“Nature has an incredible way in life and death.” Watch as these protective bison ward off the apex predators of Yellowstone National Park in order to protect a fallen member of their species.
“When a bison dies in Yellowstone, most of the time the herd that’s in the area will come to pay their respects and surround the dead bison and protect it for hours,” begins wildlife photographer and author Julie Argyle. This is exactly what Argyle captured last week in the world’s first national park.
Or, as she puts it, “This was definitely the case the other day. As you can see in the video, Wolves tried to come in and were chased away several times and two grizzly bears also tried to come in.”
As the “bison funeral” took place in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, Argyle says none of the predators “were allowed to get close to the dead bison until hours after it happened.”
All of the above is on display in Argyle’s footage, which she posted to her photography page May 31, 2022.
“Nature has an incredible way in life and death,” she adds of her footage. Indeed it does.
‘Bison Funeral’ in Yellowstone National Park Provides Remarkable Insight
Anthropomorphizing wildlife, or attributing human characteristics or behavior to wild animals, is a tricky subject. We know animals feel and think, and there’s a whole lot of science to back up their emotional states, too. But do they experience the same grievances we do? Decades of research documents African elephant mothers and families grieving – and slipping into deep depressions – after the death of a calf or close member of their herd. And try to tell any dog, cat, or parrot owner that their animals don’t have emotions. Why should bison be any different?
Argyle sees this sort of “emotional behavior” in Yellowstone National Park all the time. Much of it is documented through her photography and videography. In this specific case, however, she tells FTW Outdoors that she didn’t know how long the “bison funeral” lasted. Once “near whiteout” storm conditions swept the valley, she had to cease filming and vacate.
Argyle was able to discern that the deceased bison was an adult and not a calf.
Bison: King of Yellowstone
The largest land mammals in North America, bison have become hallmarks of conservation and the National Park Service. They’re America’s national mammal, and are inseparable from both our European settlement and Indigenous American histories.
As of 2022, Yellowstone National Park estimates around 5,450 bison reside within their borders. This is up thousands from the early 20th century. Now, “It would be a rare day to come and spend in the park and not see a bison,” says Yellowstone Ranger Beth Taylor.
For more on this remarkable species and their history, see our Research Indicates There Are No Pure North American Bison Left, All Have Domestic Cattle DNA next.