By Mark Moran - Producer-Editor, Contact - News


Big Sky Connection - With summer travel season heating up and people visiting national parks, wildlife experts are asking people to give wild animals their space, not only for the animal's health and well-being but for the safety of tourists. Comments from two spokespersons from Defenders of Wildlife: Chamois (SHAM-ee) Anderson, senior representative for the Rockies and Plains program; and Tracy Davids, senior southeast field representative.

Mark Moran

July 1, 2024 - Wildlife experts are warning people not to get too close to the animals in national parks as the summer travel season heats up. Overeager tourists can not only put themselves in danger, but threaten the animals.

Three million people visit Montana's Glacier national Park each year, and many want photos with the iconic Bison that are threatened and being reintroduced to the wild.

Chamois Anderson, senior representative for the Rockies and Plains program with Defenders of Wildlife, said while interaction with animals is part of the national park experience, it's important to give the bison their space - so tourists need to keep their distance.

"You know, they pull off the roadway to view bison, or maybe bears if they see one," said Anderson, "and they just want to get that selfie or that photo with their cellphone, and they approach these animals as if they're at a zoo. These are not zoos. These animals are very wild, and we need to keep them wild."

Anderson said she tells park visitors to stay at least 25 yards away from bison, and 200 yards from bears and wolves.

Defenders of Wildlife has released a video on YouTube describing what to consider when interacting with animals in Montana's Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks.

In North Carolina, Defenders of Wildlife's Senior Southeast Field Representative Tracy Davids said the group is going beyond educating tourists, and is also asking professional photographers to back off the remaining 20 or so Red Wolves in the eastern wetlands of the state.

"Particularly now during puppy season, we've had reports of photographers getting a little too close," said Davids. "Not so much putting themselves in jeopardy, but in a way that's harassing the wolves."

An 83-year-old woman from South Carolina sustained serious injuries when she was gored by a bison at Yellowstone in June.

The National Park Service says the bison was defending its space, came within a few feet of the woman, and lifted her about a foot off the ground with its horns.

The Park Service says bison injure more people in Yellowstone than any other animal, typically one or two a year.

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