If you saw a hulking bison wandering around outside your car, what would you do?
Would you slow down and admire the majesty of nature? Would you snap a quick picture and drive on? Or would you get out of your car, hunch your shoulders and growl at it before quickly skittering away when the big bison becomes upset?
One man chose the last of those options, according to a video making the rounds on social media — and Yellowstone park rangers are not happy about it. The video was posted by bystander Lindsey Jones on Wednesday, and has since been viewed more than 4 million times. “Meanwhile in Yellowstone National Park...” she wrote, along with the hashtag “#dontdrinkandbuffalo.”
Rangers arrested a suspect on Thursday night, the National Park Service announced Friday. Raymond Reinke, a 55-year-old man from Pendleton, Oregon, has been booked at the Yellowstone Jail and was expected to make a court appearance on Friday, rangers said.
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The video shows a bison walking across the road and grunting loudly while a man in a blue shirt and shorts approaches it from behind. The bison is not looking at the man at first and is off the road when the man stops. In the background, a child says, “Come on Buffalo, you can’t let them boss you around!”
The bison turns around. The man yells at it and beats his chest.
“Oh my God, no no no no ... “ a woman says. The bison trots forward quickly, but doesn’t break into a full charge. The man runs away, then spins around and raises his arms.
“Rawr,” he growls.
The bison charges at him full-on and he begins to run away as the camera jerks. Someone says they cannot watch. When the camera swings back up, the man is back on the road and the bison is walking away. The man stares at the bison for a moment before walking back toward the other cars.
Other bison have not been so accommodating when humans encroach on their space. In July, a Tennessee man was rammed by a bison after he hopped a fence to get a closer look at the animals.
Hundreds of commenters didn’t find the man’s actions funny or brave, and said there should be consequences for what he did.
“The individual’s behavior in this video is reckless, dangerous, and illegal. We need people to be stewards of Yellowstone, and one way to do that is to keep your distance from wildlife,” Yellowstone superintendent Dan Wenk wrote in a Facebook post. “Park regulations require people to stay at least 25 yards from animals like bison and elk, and 100 yards from bears and wolves. These distances safeguard both visitors and the remarkable experience of sharing a landscape with thousands of freely-roaming animals. People who ignore these rules are risking their lives and threatening the park experience for everyone else.”
He reminded visitors to dial 911 if they saw anyone who was in danger of hurting themselves or the park.
It turned out Reinke had been bedeviling National Parks across the region in recent weeks, rangers said. He was arrested July 28 at Grand Teton National Park after rangers suspected him of drunk and disorderly conduct. After a night in jail, Reinke was released on bond — and that’s when he headed to Yellowstone, rangers said.
In Yellowstone, he was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over for a traffic offense, and he “appeared to be intoxicated and argumentative,” according to rangers. Reinke got a citation for not wearing his seat belt in the vehicle.
A short time later, Reinke harassed the bison, rangers suspect. On August 2, rangers connected the dots and got an arrest warrant, the National Park Service said.