Have you ever tried to do the right thing, and it just didn’t work out? Well, we almost got run down by a couple angry, ginormous bison while we were innocently walking Brodie one morning near Yellowstone Lake.
Bison have been getting some bad press this year after goring several people. There are sign everywhere stating that you should NOT get close to the wildlife. I want to say all the people in that situation are just stupid, and most of them are. But, maybe some of them were trying to do the right thing.
There are some cases where it sounds like the people aren’t really trying to get close to the bison. You see, sometimes the bison are right near walk ways or trails and you can’t walk anywhere else. Most of the time, people are just being dumb and get WAY too close to these animals.
Our story is a little bit like that… We really tried to do the right thing.
Let’s look closer at this beast called bison.
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Bison are one of the major attractions at Yellowstone, and you’re almost sure to see a herd if you spend any time in the park. There are about 5,000 in the park, making up the largest herd on public land.
They are massive, weighing in between 1,000 to 2,000 pounds! Somehow they can run up to 30 mph. Read more Yellowstone bison facts here.
We took this video right next to our cabin. The bison are everywhere!
There is a section of the park called The Fishing Bridge near the Lake. Back in the day, people used to fish off the bridge for cutthroat trout. The population of cutthroat is in danger nowadays and invasive species are threaten them so you can’t fish of the bridge anymore.
After breakfast, we headed over to the bridge area with Brodie for a morning walk. It was pretty early so the crowds and traffic were light. We got out of the car and started walking across the bridge. We noticed 2 bison on the other side of the bridge laying on a hillside.
Then they got up.
We were on the sidewalk on the side of the road, to the left on the guard poles in the image above. The bison seem to use the road often (as you can see from the “Share the Road” PSA). We were about halfway across the bridge when the bison started to head over.
The cars just go slower and give the bison the right of way.
These bison hopped in the right lane and headed in our direction with a line of cars behind them.
We got to the other side of the bridge, then decided to head down a trail to the right of the road, right next to the river. At that time, the bison were midway across the bridge, moving fairly fast, and they were 200 feet away. We were at a safe distance and I was able to take a some great pictures of the bison crossing the bridge.
Why? I am not sure. He was in the right hand lane and cars were behind him. I guess he didn’t follow the rules of the road.
He looked even harder with his buggy, predatory eyes. He turned his head and body.
We saw both bison were sort of looking our way. We were looking right back – starting to panic.
Bison are prey.
I asked Elizabeth if she could scramble up the hillside behind us. She didn’t understand at first, but realized she had to go NOW. The hillside is dotted with trees and provided some cover and that’s what I wanted. Of course, the bison could simply run up the hill like it was nothing, but the trees would provide some obstacles for them and cover for us.
They were still staring at us when we were heading 30 feet up the hill. It was sandy, rocky, and the footing was terrible. Brodie was confused since he wanted to watch the bison more. We finally got to a spot that had several trees so we stopped.
We made it out alive…
Right then, the bison ran across the street in the other direction! The ran up the opposite hill on the other side of the road! They were FAST and didn’t even slow down as they scaled the hill.
After we talked about it, we decided that the bison probably thought Brodie was a threat, like a wolf. They are natural enemies. (Check out this video on YouTube. Beware it is really graphic.) It escalated when we sat there and stared at the bison when they looked down our path.
The bison left and we went to check out the bridge again.
The Bison Retreated
While we were on the bridge, the bison came back down the hill, crossed the road, and went over to the hill where we took cover.
If you have a dog, don’t let it look bison in the eye. The bison don’t like it very much!
Here is a clip from a documentary I watched earlier this year, and it’s the reason I thought Brodie made the bison take note of us.