Yellowstone National Park is one of the most complete and untouched ecosystems left in the Contiguous United States of America. There are so many species of fauna that roam within its borders.
And humans love to see this natural almost unaltered beauty. Consequently, a lot of people in the park come within close proximity of many of these animals. And I just wanted to tell you some things to ABSOLUTELY NEVER DO if you happen to be in the park and near to animals.
The park has rules on how to interact with the animals, but I want to go into a bit more detail. The park rules can be found here:
There are a few animals that are very common to come across during your travels through the park.
Elk: Elk are one of the most numerous and more docile of all animals in the park. Particularly the northwestern section of the park has a huge population. The elk here are literally in the middle of the road. The male who carries the harem in the area also sometimes charges cars, so be careful.
Mammoth Hot Springs has them sunning on the grass courtyard of the hotel and walking past the restaurant front entrance hourly. The resident employees are quite used to it, but visitors are baffled by it.
Bison: Bison are very prevalent in the areas around old faithful. They are very calm and tend to keep to themselves. They move in large numbers, and are very capable of hurting you and your car.
They are found in a lot of different areas of the park in smaller numbers, and tend to stay away from humans. These are not the “most dangerous” thing that you will encounter. (I used quotes because nothing is really dangerous if you don’t do anything entirely idiotic.)
Bears: There are bears in the park. They can kill you. You probably won’t even see one if you go. They are not responsible for most accidents that occur in the park. Don’t worry about them.
Wolves: Wolves hunt in packs, obviously. There are only about 500 in the park, so you also probably won’t see them. If you encounter a wolf pack in close range and away from the inhabited areas of the park, then you might die.
The most important rule to remember in the park is to just stay away. The herbivores (elk, moose, bison, and deer) require 25 yards, but farther is safer. The carnivores (wolves and bears) require 100 yards, but farther is still safer.
If you are staying away from the animals, then 99% of the time you will be fine.
However, sometimes there arises a situation that which is out of your control. If you are ever caught within an unsafe distance, trapped with no escape route, or any other crazy situation, just remember to stay calm.
Most of the time the herbivores are not going to bother you if you aren’t making them feel threatened in any way. So, staying calm and problem solving in the situation is key. If you do that then you are going to find a way to get away safely.
The carnivores require a bit more caution.
Yes, staying calm is important, but also remembering the proper way to deal with an attack if, God forbid, that happens.
The visitor centers and rangers will answer any questions that you may have, so always make sure you know everything you can.
But if you neglect to use any of those resources, and, for some outrageous reason, think that reading this post will prepare you for everything that you might need to know, then here is how to deal with a bear attack.
ALWAYS CARRY BEAR SPRAY! It’s like mace only way stronger and it shoots like 40 feet. While hiking make loud noise and hike in groups of 3 or more ALWAYS. The noise lets any wildlife know that you’re there and most bears will just stay away from you anyway. If you happen to see a bear that might be within 100 yards of you, walk the other way. That will eliminate 90% of the likelihood that you will get attacked. If you can’t walk the other way, try to continue on your path making sure the bear knows you are there and attempt to get by it.
If it starts to charge at you, STAND YOUR GROUND! It is probably a show. Most of the time they will stop, back down, and walk away.
If it charges at you and you’re certain that it is not stopping, then grab your bear spray from its holster and unload on that bad boy. Spray it pointing at a slightly upward angle and right in that bear’s face. If the bear is just too hardcore for you pansy bear spray, then hit the ground face first, take off your backpack and spread your feet far apart like a starfish, and tuck your head down and cover it with your hands. This makes it hard to flip you over, and difficult to hurt your head.
If it is upon you when you’re like this, it will probably leave after a minute. Make sure you wait until it’s gone for a few minutes to get up. Then walk calmly away after you grab your backpack, and attempt to contact an emergency number.
Wolf attacks: The park doesn’t really give information on how to deal with a wolf attack for 2 reasons. They are highly unlikely. And you are probably going to die if a pack of wolves attacks you. So just be cautious when in areas that are likely to have wolves. If you are able to, try and spray the wolves with your bear spray, it is likely to stop them.
Moral of the story: Be careful while out and about, don’t make dumb decisions and you probably won’t die.