Loaded With Nope: Don’t Pet the Bison
In my mind, this falls under the category of things you don't have to tell me once, let alone twice. The National Park Service's suggestion: Don't pet the bison.
According to KRDO, the National Park Service recently released a guide instructing people as to the proper technique for petting bison. The technique, in a word, is "Don't." According to KRDO, If you fancy a bison belly rub, check your insurance first.
The agency also posted a diagram on Facebook to go with its guide to smart wildlife watching.
I'm not much of a YouTuber, but even I have seen the footage of the little girl getting jettisoned umpteen feet into the air by a disenchanted bison. In July, a bison gored a teenager at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.
My dad's dog, Leopold, will tear your arm off if you try to rub his belly. Leopold is a Pekingese weighing in at an earth-shattering eight pounds. A male bison can weigh close to a ton.
Okay, so how much personal space do these things need? The National Park Service recommends maintaining a distance of at least 25 yards. How fast can they run? According to www.fws.gov, "Bison can run at speeds approaching 35 mph which is as fast as a horse. And they are also extremely agile, able to turn quickly and jump high fences. So do not approach bison – view them from the safety of your vehicle."
So, at 2,000 pounds, roughly the weight of a Mazda Miata, and a speed of 35 MPH, you might want to stay out of a bison's path. You wouldn't want to go head to head with a Miata charging you down at 35 MPH, would you?
According to KRDO, the National Park Service recommends against stopping in mid-road to admire bison. I would never have guessed this, but traffic accidents are the most common cause of injury or death at Yellowstone. The park suggests you "use pullouts to watch wildlife and let other cars pass. Stay with your vehicle if you encounter a wildlife jam."
The video of the little girl getting tossed in the air like a rodeo clown was enough to convince me. How about we all follow the National Park Service's suggestion, and not pet the bison.