Idiots invade Yellowstone

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.


yellowstone-bison-calfFirst 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…

Yellowstone Bison calf cold

A bison cow with her cold calf that we did not put in our car.

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.


No pants were torn, nor were any laws broken

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.


Fishing amongst giants

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.


Sign says: Don’t be an idiot



Note: Lest one should think this is an anti-Canada rant, rest assured I like Canada and have said as much, publicly, HERE.


12 thoughts on “Idiots invade Yellowstone”

  1. Matthew says:

    Bison are clearly anti-tourist. As the illustration shows, it is targeting a short-short wearing, ball cap adorned, camera wielding indoorsman.
    We should get the bison to pay for a wall around the dangers you’ve outlined.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Let’s go one better: no entry to any National Park until the applicant has successfully completed a basic IQ test. That would, clearly, eliminate all the problems.

  2. Al says:

    It unfortunately appears that foreign tourists are trying to “out American” the American tourists. Sad. Next they’ll be changing out all their Tim Horton’s for McDonald’s. Though that would be a massive upgrade.

  3. “Us” normal people find it highly entertaining watching stupid tourists. Really, if it wasn’t for the entertainment value, who would care except those of us that don’t wish to lose our privileges to partake of our park system or wish to see our wildlife killed due to “human error.” Oh and by the way, stupidity knows no national boundaries. (Insert favorite political rant here.)

  4. This post is great. Headed to Yellowstone for the first time this summer with the family. Hope as stupid tourists we don’t make any major gaffes…I don’t want to be gored by a buffalo or eaten by a grizz.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Thanks for stopping by for a comment. Make sure you take a fly rod when you go. The Firehole is an easy fishery, but it’ll likely be too warm by the time you get there. But there are many other easily fished rivers in the park—even if you can only steal away for a short spell. I’m sure you’ll not stoop to the stupidity of the stupid tourists. After all, you live amongst sink holes. If you were an idiot you’d have been swallowed up by now. Good luck!

  5. One of my wife’s all-time favorite books is “Death in Yellowstone” by Lee Whittlesey. I’ve always enjoyed this totally unrelated quote that helps explain why the book was necessary:

    “Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.”
    –Rick Cook, The Wizardry Compiled

    And I’ve frequently contributed the following when she’s scratching her head about some stupidity she reads in the news or sees on TV: By definition, 49.9% of the population is of below-average intelligence.

    Take a look at the stranger next to you in Yellowstone, and flip a coin…

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      First, I must thank you for the book recommendation. I’m expecting a “People of Walmart Meet Yellowstone” sort of read and hope I’m not wrong. Oh, and speaking of coins, I find it ironic that the Canadian silver dollar features the American Bison.

  6. Joe says:

    Lady was charged and nearly wiped out by a big cow elk in Yellowstone just a day or two ago as well. She got pretty close to take a pic with her Iphone. No word if she was one of my embarrassing Canuck sisters.


    1. Kirk Werner says:

      I saw that one, too. And then the recent Aussie who got stomped by a bison. Darwin is being too lenient these days.

  7. Clint says:

    First of all….on behalf of all Canadians I apologize for the idiocy of these people. It goes to show that stupidity is not limited to any one nationality…there’s stupid people everywhere. That said, it’s funny that Canadians are the ones being portrayed as the idiots given that half your population thinks we live in igloos (I don’t…honest).

    Anyway, cut your Northern neighbours a little slack eh…we aren’t all a bunch of hosers. Besides, I don’t think you Americans want to get into a war of words on who’s dumber…dumberererer. After all….you just overwhelmingly voted for Donald Duck…I mean Trump to be your president. Not that Hillary was a better choice…she wasn’t….but really, was that the best you could do??

    The world just let out a collective belly laugh when we saw the results of the election….followed by silent introspect….and then panic at what this imbecile could possibly do to the World Order.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      What you point out is true: one stupid egg (or a few) spoils the whole bunch. As to the state of American politics, both candidates were the result of a system that had become so bipolarized that it was broken. The only way to fix it was to send a message that we, the People, are sick of corrupt politics and politicians and are raging against the machine with a vote for the elected President. Time will tell whether or not we just took the first step toward demanding the change that is sorely needed. This campaign showed that the 2 party political system is not working for everyone. Don’t worry—being our closest, favorite neighbor, no harm will come your way. But watch yourselves or we’ll build a wall 😉

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