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Are the bears or bison in Yellowstone dangerous?

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Are the bears or bison in Yellowstone dangerous?

Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 05:16 PM
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Are the bears or bison in Yellowstone dangerous?

Not backpacking, just regular car vacation with a little very light hiking. So I am assuming chances of running into something that will eat or injure us is slim - but guide books seem to present a scarier picture. I thought Yellowstone was too crowded in summer for animals to be an issue. Comments? Thanks.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 05:24 PM
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If you see Yogi and Boo Boo, you could actually get out of the car and snap pictures. They are very professional about that.

All the animals in the park are well trained to behave, so nothing to worry about. The few shy ones just don't like pictures, but a little picnic basket will fix that in no time.

Please post a reprt and pictures upon tour return!

Have a great trip!


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Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 05:33 PM
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Only if you bother them.

Some people DO seem to think the animals in the park are there for photo opportunites. DO NOT move in for your close-up. I did see a bison charge a guy who got too close to him next to Old Faithful, but he was going up to stand next to a WILD BUFFALO for a photo op. Talk about scrambling to get away! Both were on that faux-wood decking (plastic) and it was really funny to watch that guy scramble for some sort of traction to get away fast.

Don't feed them, get close to them, etc. I've visited Yellowstone many times and haven't seen a bear up close (Now, the Smokey Mountains of my childhood was a different story!)
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Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 05:37 PM
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Yes - all the animals in the park have been domesticated - they are carefully trained for picture taking, hand shaking etc.

If any of them show their teeth - they're just happy and smiling. Be sure to walk right up and pet them - offering a snack by hand - you didn;t really need those fingers did you?

(I saw video of a woman bitten by a polar bear at the zoo - she had climbed over the outer bar and was trying to pet it through the inner bars. She thought it was OK because the bear was "slow and stupid" I think we all know who was really "slow and stupid".)
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Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 06:02 PM
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Gail,

Yes, Yellowstone is crowded in the summer, but that doesn't equal no animals around. When my husband and I were there 3 years ago we didn't see a bear, period, much less close enough to worry about and we did quite a lot of day hiking away from the crowds. That's not to say you might not, but the bears in Yellowstone aren't as abundant as they are in Yosemite or Sequoia.

Buffalo are entirely different. Driving, especially in the Hayden Valley area (I think;I don't have my Yellowstone info handy) you are likely to come on at least one "bison jam." They just wander across/along/beside the road. Where ever they choose, they go.

As starrsville said, just keep your distance and use common sense. Read, I repeat, read the literature they hand out when you come into the Park. It tells you all about the safe distances to maintain between you and the critters.

They don't however, give this literature to the critters. When we were there we stopped early one morning at a geyser basin to hike and a herd of bison came down the hillside and through the parking lot. My husband was in the bathroom at the time and when he opened the door, his exit was blocked by half the herd maybe 10 feet away. This a far, far closer than the rangers advise you to get. He just stood very still while they mosied on by displaying zero interest in him.

In addition to info about the animals, the Park literature also tells you important stuff like "stay on the paths/boardwalks" and "don't walk through unmarked thermal areas." You'd think common sense would make such warnings unnecessary, but we actually saw one woman tell her children to step off the boardwalk to get closer to the bubbling hot spring so she could get a better photo.

If you just don't think of Yellowstone as Disneyworld, you'll be fine. These are wild animals, but as long as you observe them from a safe distance they aren't going to come attack you for no reason.

Yellowstone is an incredible place. Go and enjoy it. Get up early to beat the crowds and stay out late enough to see the often fabulous sunsets.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 07:14 PM
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The animals in Yellowstone are wild. Do not approach them. You will be fine in your vehicle.

Hayden Valley is a great place to be in the early morning or dusk to observe wild life. Some years we have seen bears and some we haven't. One time we saw a grizzly bear...we stayed in the motorhome, but we saw others following after him...STUPID FOOLS! On another occasion we saw people approaching a moose and the ranger came by and told them to get back.

Bears, moose and buffalo can move very fast so keep a distance!

Utahtea
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Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 07:21 PM
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Please don't think anyone telling you they are domesticated is serious. YES they are dangerous. They are wild animals. I've seem plenty of cars in Yosemite with their windows bashed in and their doors yanked off (not to mention refridgerators in Colorado!) Please heed the parks warnings.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 07:34 PM
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When you enter the park, stop at the visitor's center and watch the video. That is warning enough!
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Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 07:45 PM
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it's been a long time but this is one of those things that sort of sticks in your memory.

1960's, one of those overland road trips my parents like the take. I'm somewhere under the age of eight. On the procession of cars tooling along slowly through the park, the car in front of us is committing the cardinal sin of feeding the bears. No Ranger Smith to be seen.

My dad has his arm crooked and resting on the window ledge, rolled down (it would be many years until I saw a car with A/C). Eventually, the bear benefactor ahead of us runs out of marshmallows or just gets bored and starts to move on. We start to move too, but of course, there are BEARS there, which is what you came to see after such a long trip after all, so we didn't rush by. More of a creep by, really.

I can remember though my dad turning to say something to my mom, me in the backseat but pulled as far forward as I could get when the biggest, hairiest head I'd ever seen joined us through dad's window. Way in. Checking to see why we'd been coming up short on sweets when the last window passing by had been so much more generous.

Hopefully, it wasn't a bear faint of heart, because it got an earful of words not usually spoken in mixed (species) company. Gas pedal and window crank broke the standoff.

Then again, he may have just been doing a survey for the park service.

Oh, uh... anyway, I guess I'm saying that you shouldn't take safety or the predictability of great big animals with lots of great big sharp teeth for granted.

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Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 10:18 PM
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You should NEVER feed any of the animals in the park. Human's are more dangerous to them than they are to us. When they associate too closely with humans and loose their fear, they can become aggressive and that is NOT good news for the animal. There are a lot of bears up at Tahoe and some people, no matter what keep insisting on feeding them because they are "cute". There was a mother bear and her cubs shot and killed not too long ago because they did not fear people, did not stay away, and they were considered to be a danger. Do the animals a favor, and admire them from a safe distance..for your sake and theirs.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 01:39 AM
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Thanks for the info. I really did know that they are wild animals and not Disney creations. Perhaps I should have asked question with qualifier - if one uses reasonable intelligence are the animals dangerous. I think anyone who gets hurt trying to pet a bison deserves what they get.

I read that most National Parks eliminated all park garbage dumps in the 70s to avoid the "domesticated bear at the dump" situation. Apparently years ago Yellowstone had bleachers set up at their dump so visitors could watch the bears feed!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 04:31 AM
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Gail, You'll do fine, if as you've noted, you use common sense and hike in the more populated spots. Park rangers would be irresponsible if they didn't highlight the potential danger of wild animals. And as you've heard above, there are some real nitwits out there diluting the gene pool.

We too saw some moron with telephoto lens get charged when he got too close to a bison herd, one with calves no less! Having seen that I fully agree that a motivated bison can sprint from 0 to 30 mph in a heartbeat.

Last summer during our visit to YS, there was a bear attack. A guy (park employee) went bird watching at dusk on a back country trail. He surprised and then was accosted by two black bears. He did the drill and dropped to the ground in a ball and played inanimate object. The bears eventually left him alone and he was able to walk back to his car and drive himself to get medical attention. He was very lucky to get away with a few severe lacerations. But he did take a risk, hiking alone in the back country at dusk.

There are signs posted usually at the trailheads, if bears have been recently sighted or are known to frequent the area. Bear Management Area, I think the signs said. Funny way to put it but it got our attention.

Have a great trip, it's a beautiful place.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 09:03 AM
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Interesting . . . dropping and covering is generally regarded the wrong thing to do against black bears, but the proper technique for grizzlies, given their different temperaments and tendencies. The ranger was lucky.

Although the odds of injury in a car accident or lightning strike are probably greater, common sense goes a long ways. One thing that a lot of folks forget is don't keep a lot of food in your car.

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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 09:09 AM
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A bear is a bear is a bear. You couldn't pay me to get out and take a picture. These are wild animals no matter what and if they feel threatened for any reason, they will snap.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 01:17 PM
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The Travel Channel had a show on Yellowstone and they said that there are more injuries from Bison than from bears at the park - mostly because people use a little more sense dealing with a bear. The size and shape of the bison is a little deceiving - it doesn't look like they can move quickly but they can. Also, bison are perfectly willing to defend their territory.

We've been to Yellowstone twice and seeing the animals was definately a highlight. You'll be fine if you use good judgement.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 01:30 PM
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repete, The person wasn't a ranger but one the park's many summer employees.

The literature we were given made a distinction between a bear's posture in approaching (defensive or predatory) not the type of bear. I'm no bear expert, that's for sure, and related most of the details above from an article in the newspaper we clipped out and brought home.

I defer to your expertise.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 01:34 PM
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If I see a bear, I doubt my focus will be on determining if it is predatory or defensive (although I do recognize there would be some value in that). And while bison do look rather cuddly, I think I would prefer to appreciate them from a greater distance as well.

With our luck, it will be like the swamp boat tour we took in the Everglades to see manatees. Ended up seeing a lot of birds and many mosquitoes the size of birds.

Thanks again
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 02:19 PM
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I don't know if things are different now becuse maybe policies have been changed, but when I was in Yellowstone many years ago, the bears were all around, hanging around the roadways begging for food. Some idiots would get out of their cars not only for pictures but to feed them. The worst part was they were training their cubs to beg also. Like I say, don't know if that behavior is still prevelent today.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 02:38 PM
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The parks now stress not feeding the animals. They prefer wildlife interact with people as little as possible as it is dangerous for both. Makes sense to me.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 06:59 PM
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obxgirl,
My bad about the ranger vs. worker. Posture is important and an easier-to teach concept than determining species.

. . . but if you can tell the difference, only a small percentage of black bears are actually predatory toward humans. There was a particularly gruesome case near Glenallen, AK, in the early '90s I believe.

The stats, however, are pretty telling. Despite the huge numbers of black bears in the U.S. and a much, much smaller number of grizzlies, the grizzlies kill almost twice as many people over a given period. And that's despite many more human encounters between humans and black bears.

Unless you come between a griz and cubs or a food source you're likely safer than if you encounter a park bear that numbskulls have fed (and likely sentenced to death.)

It's hard not to think about the possibilities. It's a strange balance of excitement and risk, but gail should read up as obxgirl did, use common sense and have a great time! It's a wonderful place.



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