Yellowstone Visitors Ignore Warnings, Including Road Signs And Head-Butting Bison

May 5, 2018
Originally published on May 11, 2018 4:46 pm

National Parks and Monuments are preparing for the onslaught of summer tourists, and park officials are hoping visitors will remember these are wild places with wild animals. Yellowstone National Park has already seen two dangerous incidents over the last week.

Two out-of-state visitors had to be rescued when their vehicle got stuck in deep snow on a closed road.

Lance Mathess is the Park County Search and Rescue Coordinator. He said the two men were relying on their GPS system, which told them the road was open.

"They probably figured the road closed sign was a mistake, and they drove around the sign, and quickly realized the road closed sign was not a mistake," said Mathess.

Also, on that same day, a woman near Old Faithful was head-butted by a bison.

Mathess said tourists should be prepared to give wildlife the proper space.

"Remember that the animals are wild," said Mathess. "Stay in your cars and stay away from them because they are very, very unpredictable and for your safety, you need to respect that."

Yellowstone spokesperson Neil Herbert said that means 100 yards for bears and wolves, and 25 yards for all other wildlife.

Herbert added it's best to rely on local sources for things like directions and road closures.

"Conditions change quickly. We may have rock falls that can cause road closures," said Herbert. "This spring we've had above-average snowfall, that could delay some road openings, and because of avalanche danger, could cause temporary closures on some of the steep mountain passes in this area."

Road information for the park can be found here, as well as road information for Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

Last year, Yellowstone saw its second-busiest year on record, with over 4 million visits.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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