August 3, 2018 / 10:41 PM / 14 days ago

Man in Yellowstone bison video arrested on wildlife harassment charge

PINEDALE, Wyo. (Reuters) - A man seen in a widely circulated video provoking a Yellowstone National Park bison by waving his arms at the creature, prompting it to charge him, was arrested by rangers on suspicion of harassing wildlife, park officials said on Friday.

  Raymond Reinke, 55, of Pendleton, Oregon, was taken into custody late Thursday by rangers at Glacier National Park in Montana, where Reinke had traveled after being cited on Tuesday evening by Yellowstone rangers for the bison incident that took place earlier that day.

  The encounter, captured in a video that has gone viral since being posted online midweek, showed the man later identified by authorities as Reinke gesticulating as he ran toward a bull bison whose crossing had stopped traffic on a park roadway.

  The bull then charged the man, who fled as an unidentified woman witnessing the event is heard to say, apparently referring to the bison, “Now he’s gonna be mad.”

  Just days earlier, Reinke was arrested at Grand Teton National Park in what rangers said was a drunk and disorderly conduct incident. He was jailed overnight on July 28 and released on a bond that was subsequently revoked, prompting authorities to issue an arrest warrant on Thursday, according to Yellowstone.

  Millions of visitors annually flock to the park that spans parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to view wildlife, including its famed bison, also known as buffalo.

  Yellowstone rules dictate visitors give animals a wide berth, requiring them to stay at least 25 yards (meters) from bison and elk and 100 yards from predators such as wolves and bears.

  The man-versus-bison video is the latest example of humans approaching too close for creatures’ comfort at one of America’s most popular national parks. In June, a bison there gored a woman after a crowd surged within feet of it, according to the park.

  Yellowstone spokeswoman Morgan Warthin said bison, like other wild animals, are best viewed from afar.

  “The fact that visitors are so passionate about Yellowstone and the animals is extraordinary. Yet we ask them to keep their distance to safeguard themselves and safeguard the remarkable landscape with hundreds of thousands of free-roaming animals,” she told Reuters.

  Reinke made an initial appearance in federal court in Wyoming on the misdemeanor charge on Friday, she said. Attempts to contact him for comment were unsuccessful and it was not immediately clear if he had retained an attorney.

Editing by Steve Gorman and Sandra Maler

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