Intoxicated Man Arrested for Kicking Yellowstone Bison

( – Those middle-aged and older may remember the cartoon character Yogi Bear’s message to kids: “Don’t feed the bears.” The real-life nature reserve that inspired the character, Yellowstone National Park, is adding a new warning: “Don’t kick the buffalo.”

Park rangers report that 40-year-old Clarence Yoder recently learned that lesson the hard way. Yoder, from Idaho Falls, was arrested after an April 21st incident in which he kicked a bison while drunk. Although Yoder sustained only minor physical injuries, he’s now in legal trouble.

After being evaluated for his injuries at a hospital, Yoder was booked at the Gallatin County Detention Center. He is charged with being under the influence of alcohol to the point of endangering himself, disorderly conduct, and with charges related to disturbing wildlife. Park staff say Yoder was harassing a group of bison and kicked one of them in the leg.

Yoder’s friend and companion (and possibly getaway driver?) on the trip hasn’t escaped trouble either. McKenna Bass, 37 and also of Idaho Falls, was charged with drunk driving, failing to yield to a police vehicle, and disturbing wildlife. Both suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges, but the case has not been adjudicated. If convicted, they could face $5,000 in fines and a jail term of six months.

Yellowstone National Park staff have to continually educate and remind visitors not to disturb the animals. The rules limiting contact are for the safety of the animals and their human admirers. Many people seem to forget that the large creatures roaming preserves like Yellowstone are not cartoon characters or domestic pets, but wild animals that will defend themselves if they feel threatened.

The park advises visitors to stay at least 25 yards away from large animals such as bison, bighorn sheep, deer, and moose. 100 yards distance is required if the animal in question is a predator, such as a bear or a wolf. In a desperate situation, the park advises people to turn around and leave any area if they can’t avoid an interaction with a large animal.

This is the first injury of a human by a buffalo this year, according to the park. The last incident happened in the summer of 2023, and three such incidents happened the year before.

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