A Yellowstone National Park visitor captured rare footage of a bear attacking a bison. The cameraman filmed the fight on May 31 while on a day trip to the park with his family.
In the video, YouTuber Michael Daus says the encounter went down near one of the park’s scenic overlooks. It was shot around 2 p.m., which is typically not a time of day known for wildlife watching.
The clip shows the young bison charging at the bear before the bear attacks and eventually kills it. “A healthy young grizzly crosses the road as we turn into the parking area for our hike to the Grand Prismatic Overlook,” Daus writes. “Upon returning to the parking lot, the griz and what appears to be a healthy but smaller, young bison are going at it.”
Daus felt concerned when seeing the grizzly and bison so close to the parking lot. “We weren’t crazy about returning to find the bear so close, just beyond the opposite side of the small parking area,” he said. “We didn’t even see it until we were at our vehicle. I was particularly relieved that the bear seemed more interested in the bison, so while very close to the car, we simply maintained what felt like a safe distance.”
The clash starts when the young bison chases the grizzly at about 1:11 in the video. At first, the bison appears to have the upper hand. However, the grizzly manages to bite down on the bison’s spine just above its hindquarters.
Yellowstone National Park requires all visitors to maintain 100 yards distance from bears or wolves. Daus voiced his concern while filming that he and his family were “not at a safe distance.”
At the end of the video, Daus states that the fight happened over the course of about 17 minutes. For most of the video, the grizzly sinks its teeth deeper into the bison’s hindquarters while the animals wade into the Firehole River. In the end, the bear stands atop the bison tearing at its flesh.
Bison are common prey for grizzly bears in Yellowstone. Bears and wolves are the bison’s only large predators in the national park. According to the National Park Service, bison and elk make up major portion of a grizzly’s diet between March and May.