Man arrested after going head-to-head with bison at Yellowstone National

The 55-year-old suspect was captured on video harassing the bison.

August 3, 2018, 5:21 PM

A man who was seen on video attempting to go head-to-head with a bison at Yellowstone National Park has been arrested, according to the National Park Service.

Raymond Reinke of Pendleton, Oregon, was arrested by park rangers Thursday night, the NPS said in a press release.

Reinke had been traveling to multiple national parks over the last week and was first arrested by rangers at Grand Teton National Park in Teton County, Wyoming, on July 28 for a "drunk and disorderly conduct incident," according to the NPS.

Reinke made his way to Yellowstone National Park -- about 7 miles north -- after he spent the night in jail and was released on bond, the NPS said.

The incident with the bison is believed to have happened on Tuesday after Yellowstone rangers stopped Reinke for a traffic violation, during which he appeared to be "intoxicated and argumentative," the release states.

Rangers had received several wildlife harassment reports from concerned park visitors and issued a citation to Reinke later that evening, the NPS said. The video was released after the citation had been issued.

Reinke, who had previously told rangers that he planned to travel about 400 miles north to Glacier National Park, was apprehended after rangers there responded to the Many Glacier Hotel on reports that two arguing guests were "creating a disturbance in the hotel dining room," according to the NPS.

Rangers identified one of those guests to be Reinke, and he was arrested and transported to the Yellowstone Jail. He appeared in court on Friday, where he was charged with "feeding, touching, frightening or intentional disturbing of wildlife," according to a federal court document.

Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk reminded park-goers that "harassing wildlife is illegal in any national park."

The video also prompted new warnings from park officials.

"The individual's behavior in this video is reckless, dangerous and illegal," a spokesman for the public affairs office of Yellowstone National Park told ABC News. "We need people to be stewards of Yellowstone, and one way to do that is to keep your distance from wildlife."

Lindsey Jones said she was driving with her family through Hayden Valley in Yellowstone when traffic slowed due to bison. She then spotted a man trying to approach the animal.

"We noticed behind us a man in socks and no shoes walking up the road towards the bison. He gestured to the animal to get off the road and then proceeded to challenge him," Jones said. "The bison went after him a couple of times and then carried on with what he was doing before he was bothered."

She said the unidentified man "did not appear to be injured" and was "unsure of what happened to him" once she left the area.

According to the National Park, regulations require people to remain at least 25 yards from animals like bison and elk, and 100 yards from bears and wolves. These distances safeguard both visitors and the 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," said park superintendent Dan Wenk.

Rangers are actively investigating this incident.

There have been previous incidents of other visitors getting too close to wildlife at Yellowstone.

Earlier this year a woman from California was gored by a bison. She ultimately survived.

Within the same week two others were attacked by an elk.

Wildlife expert and photographer Ron Magill told ABC News that people should remember these are wild, territorial animals.

"These are not Elsie the cow. This is a wild animal that fights for aggression, fights for territory," he said.

He continued, "The best way to view wildlife is from a safe distance. You should never get closer than 20-30 yards to an animal. Realize how privileged we are to have these national parks. To have these areas where these animals can still exist."