The annual pilgrimage of the Firehole Rangers is fast approaching, and while some may disagree, the idiots I’m referring to in the headline of this blog post are not the Rangers themselves.
As is always the case this time of year, my thoughts, and those of the others in our group, are consumed by Yellowstone. This year, however, Yellowstone is not only on the minds of the Firehole Rangers, but also at the forefront of the media. Yellowstone is a splendid place, but unfortunately the past few weeks have banner bad news weeks for Yellowstone.
First it was the story aboot the bison calf that appeared “cold”, thereby compelling a man Canadian citizen to load the newborn calf into the family SUV and drive it to a park facility. Seriously. After the calf could not be reintroduced to the herd due to having been slathered with vile, human scent, the young critter had to be euthanized. Here’s one link to the full story on ABC NEWS. Thanks, Canadian person, for being directly responsible for the demise of America’s newly-declared National Mammal.
The Firehole Rangers see bison in all shapes and forms each year, and more often than not the weather is less than inviting at 7000 feet in the Rocky Mountains. The bison often look wet and cold but never once have we imagined that someone could be so unbelievably stupid as to actually put one in their car. Oh, Canada…
The following week 4 more Canadians engaged in behavior unbecoming an intelligent mammal by leaving the boardwalk at the Grand Prismatic spring and stomping across the delicate crust to the edge of the boiling spring to take the ever-important selfie. Huffington Post reports on that incident. High Life Hosers.
The Rangers have been to Grand Prismatic spring and never once, out of respect for the delicate environment (and personal safety), did we entertain the thought of stepping off the boardwalk. The closest thing to illegal behavior we witnessed involved a group of non-Canadian foreign tourists, one of whom had dropped the lens cap to his camera onto the crust of the geyser. But rather than quickly stepping off the boardwalk and easily retrieving the lens cap, this tourist group went to great lengths to avoid breaking the law. It was worth the price of park admission just to watch that drama unfold. Butt to their credit, they followed the rules.
Lest one should think the idiocy of park tourists stops with the two aforementioned events, there’s more! In April a visitor was caught on film doing something that’s hard to fathom. Apparently the woman (possibly Canadian, but as of yet unconfirmed) decided that Yellowstone is a giant, free range petting zoo as she not only violated the rule that clearly says to not approach wildlife, but she actually touched the animal. And not just once. Watch the video here. Note that the bull shakes off her touch several times (I counted 6). That was one patient bison. Not sure what she was smoking, but Darwin was watching closely and for whatever reason chose not to induct this moron on that day. The commentary in the video is spot-on.
The Rangers fish amongst bison every year that we visit the park. The massive older bulls, seemingly the size of black delivery vans, are often seen peacefully lounging by themselves while the younger bulls galavant in small bachelor groups. The cows with their newborn calves are grouped into larger herds. Without fail we see them while fishing the Firehole, and we always give them a wide berth. While bison appear docile this time of year, it doesn’t take a Canadian rocket scientist to acknowledge that these huge creatures could quickly dispatch of a comparatively small, slow, weak and often overweight, upright-walking mammal with opposable thumbs and what is more and more in question—a highly developed brain. Sometimes while we’re fishing the bison will approach our general direction, seemingly unconcerned by our presence, and certainly less impressed by our my fishing prowess. On a few occasions the beasts have been close enough to reach out and touch with a good cast. Even that is too close for me.
The warnings are clearly posted throughout the park in plain English. If by chance park visitors can’t read English, illustrations make the warnings pretty clear: “Don’t be an idiot”. I can think of a lot of more pleasant ways to die than by being gored mercilessly by an American bison.
Breaking through the delicate crust of a boiling geyser and quickly turning to human stew isn’t high on my list of ways to go, either.
Note: Lest one should think this is an anti-Canada rant, rest assured I like Canada and have said as much, publicly, HERE.