Give wild animals the space they need

Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks have reopened, and people have come in droves. And even though the parks have only been open for a few days, there’s already been a tourist injured by a bison.

The national parks all around the country were closed March 24, and they remained closed in an effort to encourage people to stay home. But they’ve started to reopen. Yellowstone and Grand Teton reopened, at least partially, on May 18.

And people came by the hundreds. Only the East and South entrances to Yellowstone are open for now. The entrances in Idaho and Montana are still closed for the time being. The numbers are down from what they’ve been in normal years, but there are still plenty of people coming to see the parks.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for a visitor to the parks to be injured by a wild animal. Just two days after Yellowstone opened, a woman got too close to a bison, and it knocked her to the ground. Luckily for the woman, she wasn’t injured badly enough to require medical attention, but it could have been much worse.

And there are plenty of animals out there to tempt people to get too close. Some are even somewhat famous. There are several grizzly bear sows that are somewhat accepting of human activity, and they stick around near roads and other places where they can be easily seen. A few of them even have their own Facebook pages, and people post updates about where they’ve been seen and what they’re up to. This encourages more people to come and watch them, and some people can’t resist the urge to get closer.

No matter how tolerant these bears, moose, bison and other wildlife appear, though, it’s important to remember they are wild animals, and if they feel threatened, they may run away, or they may defend themselves. If they are guarding a food source or have young with them, they may be more likely to fight than flee.

Stay safe. Keep your distance.