This park was known for having the largest, free roaming buffalo herd (at the time). As luck would have it, the buffalo were conveniently found in the middle of a prairie dog "town" which was next to a large parking area. There were dozens of people milling around the parking lot looking at the buffalo with a few venturing out into the flea ba... errr... I mean prairie dog field (which was 100s of acres in size).
I was desperately trying to get a good look at a prairie dog and contract bubonic plague when all of a sudden, there was a huge commotion. There were people yelling, people running, dust flying, and people, well... one person, flying.
The flying lady came down hard and the nearby photographer helped her limp to the parking lot. She had been gored through the thigh. (Perhaps I now realize why I remember all the details!)
Apparently, she and the photographer had ventured into the buffalo-containing field to take some photos of the beasts. I can't image the thought process or conversation which took place but I assume it was something like the following:
Bob (with his camera): Let's get you standing in front of the herd with the hills in the background...
Susie: Hey, hold on. There's a baby buffalo over there. Isn't it cute? Follow me.
Bob: Sure thing. How could this go wrong? This is gonna make a great Christmas card photo.
Susie: Man, these things smell.
(Susie reaches out and literally puts her hand on the buffalo calf. THIS part actually happened!!!)
Bob: That is great. Smile. Wait a second... darn lens cover... just a little closer...OK, ready..1...2...
Mama Buffalo (weighing in at a lean 1,400lbs in full stride): AUUURRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!
(bone-jarring thud; fade to black)Yes, this lady not only approached but touched a buffalo calf... a wild buffalo calf with its wild, protective, buffalo mother within goring distance. The stupidity of this act still shocks me today and made a big impression on me as a small child.
I was reminded of this entire episode when a friend sent me a link to a story entitled "Tourist gored, flung by bison in Yellowstone National Park", the text of which is found below:
Officials in Yellowstone National Park say a Massachusetts man was gored by a bull bison that threw him 10 feet in the air and then pinned him to the ground.
The man, who is in his mid-50s, suffered a broken collarbone, shoulder blade, several ribs and a groin injury in Saturday's encounter near the Norris campground. He was airlifted to an Idaho Falls, Idaho hospital and is expected to recover. His name was not released.
Park officials say the man was not taunting the animal, but let the bull approach within a few feet of where he was sitting.
Park rules require visitors to stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards away from all other animals. If an animal approaches, it is the visitor's responsibility to move a safe distance away.This make me wonder if the animals know the "Park Rules" too? (FYI, a bear or wolf could be on top of you with a few seconds starting flat-footed at 100 yards. You'd barely have time to scream.)
One word comes to mind to describe people who do not appreciate wild animals for what they are.... wild: completeandtotalmoron.
A Man in the Woods