A deadly battle between two of North America’s largest animals was captured near Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, showing the absolute power between a grizzly bear and bison if they come face-to-face.
The “remarkable” footage was captured on May 31 by Michael Daus during a family trip to the national park and subsequently shared on YouTube. A grizzly bear and what appears to be a juvenile bison are seen dueling in a parking lot as the bear is seen mounting the bovine’s backside, digging its teeth into the animal’s hide in an attempt to bring it to the ground. Over the course of several minutes – and several fistfuls of fur – the two eventually make their way to the riverbank, before the bear finally succeeds in killing the bison, according to Daus.
According to Jackson Hole EcoTour Adventures, predators will leave carcasses but will often return to the kill the continue feeding – an important reminder to never approach a fresh carcass. IFLScience contacted the park to determine what had been done with the carcass but has not received a response at the time of publication.
Daus says that he knew the bear was in the area, having seen it near the road less than a mile before turning into the parking lot, and was “particularly relieved that the bear seemed more interested in the bison.”
Viewer discretion advised, some may find the viewing distressing.
It is not the first time a grizzly bear has been observed predating on a bison. A 2002 observational account published in the journal Ursus notes that grizzly bears will “eat meat whenever it is available to them” and a diet consisting of ungulate meat, such as that from bison and other hooved animals, is more prominent in Yellowstone bear populations than any others found in the interior of North America. Oftentimes, this meat is obtained through scavenging carcasses but elk and bison killings have been documented. Though killing adult bison is rare, exceptions have been documented of grizzly bears attacking “severely malnourished bison in spring.”
Daus responded to comments questioning the safety of being in such close proximity not just to the fight, but earlier footage in the original video that appeared to show the family very close to a herd of bison and their calves.
“Having lived nearby for decades not minutes, we certainly don’t want our actions or the appearance of our proximity to the animals to set any kind of bad example about approaching wildlife,” Daus wrote under the footage. "The camera on this phone boasts a pretty amazing lens and zoom capabilities. So I was able to get all the shots from further than it may appear. The kids enjoyed watching safely from the sunroof of the car."
Many visitors to Yellowstone have received a bad reputation over the years for not maintaining proper distances from wildlife. Footage captured last year showed a bison charging a 9-year-old girl and tossing her into the air in front of dozens of tourists. Female elk and black bears have similarly been known to come at those who do not maintain a safe distance from wildlife. A Montana reporter went viral earlier this year after hilariously taking the necessary precautions to avoid approaching wildlife. Park authorities remind visitors to “never approach animals” and to view them from inside a car, when possible. Always stay at least 91 meters (100 yards) from bears and wolves and 23 meters (25 yards) from other animals, including bison and elk.