Yellowstone visitors provoke bison, pay price

Earlier this week, it was reported by a number of sources, including the National Park Service themselves, that an unnamed woman and her friend were attacked by a bison in Yellowstone National Park. The story was that the pair were passing through a parking lot near Old Faithful when they wandered too close to a bison, who became agitated and attacked, slamming into the woman and sending her soaring end-over-end into the air. The woman and her friend, we were told, were lucky to walk away with minor injuries. But, as often is the case with these kinds of stories, there is more here than meets the eye.

It turns out that the woman in the story is 49-year old Kathy Hayes of Utah, and the man accompanying her was her brother-in-law. The two did indeed come across a bison, as the original tale went, but once the full video was released, it told another side of the story.

As you can see below in the video that comes our way courtesy of CNN, Hayes and her companion did spot a bison in the parking lot, and then proceeded to approach it on their own, getting as close as 10 yards. Park regulations prohibit visitors from coming within 25 yards of bison or elk for obvious reasons. (FYI: Safe distance for a bear or wolf is 100 yards.) While playing the video, watch very closely. On one of the close-ups of the bison, you can see that someone throws a stick at the animal, striking it in the hind quarters, which immediately sends it into an agitated state. The beast then turns on the two humans invading its turf, and the video becomes a mix of the Blair Witch Project meets Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom as Hayes scrambles to get out of the way while still holding the camera, which dutifully goes on recording the proceedings.

After tossing her into the air like a rag doll, the bison does wander off and leaves Hayes and her companion alone. She ended up suffering just some severe bumps and bruises, but is honestly lucky to have come away alive. Her brother-in-law wasn’t quite so lucky however, as he ended up suffering a broken shoulder, as well as injuries to his hand and foot, but as the park service press release stated “He was not injured by the bison.” In other words, he hurt himself while scrambling to get out of the way of the creature he provoked.

Where I come from, that’s known as Karma.

[Photo credit: J. Schmidt]