Are animals really ‘fleeing’ Yellowstone National Park?

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YELLOWSTONE, Wyo. — In the days following a 4.8-magnitude earthquake in Yellowstone National Park, many bloggers and tourists have been expressing concerns about large droves of animals leaving the area.

Could this be evidence that the infamous Yellowstone Supervolcano is on the verge of eruption, ready to wipe out civilization in North American as we know it?

Park rangers and scientists say no.

Yes, Yellowstone Public Affairs Chief Al Nash said, the March 30 earthquake was the biggest Yellowstone has seen in 34 years. However, Nash said some people living less than a mile away from the quake’s epicenter, which was located in the Norris Geyser Basin, didn’t even feel the earth shake.

The 4.8 quake was part of a series of smaller quakes that have hit the greater Yellowstone region over the past few weeks. Many believe those quakes are linked to a recent 5.1-magnitude quake (and aftershocks) that hit in the Los Angeles region earlier in March.

This news didn’t seem all that alarming to Nash, who said the park experiences 1,000 to 3,000 earthquakes every year.

“It’s just part of the geological situation we find here in Yellowstone,” he said.

Nash also addressed the reports that a large number of animals — particularly bison and elk — have been seen leaving the park in recent weeks. He didn’t deny the reports, either. He confirmed them.

“We did have a large group of bison, elk and other animals that moved outside the park recently,” Nash said. “They do it every year around this time in an effort to move to lower elevations where they can find food that’s easier to access. When things start to green back up, those same animals will walk right back into the park.”

The nearby University of Utah Seismograph Station, considered an authority on seismic activity in Yellowstone, has also downplayed fears about any impending Supervolcano eruptions.

“There is no evidence to suggest a catastrophic eruption at Yellowstone National Park is imminent,” the station told the Epoch Times. “Current geologic activity at Yellowstone has remained relatively constant since earth scientists first started monitoring some 30 years ago. Though another caldera-forming eruption is theoretically possible, it is very unlikely to occur in the next thousand or even 10,000 years.”

Still, many rumors continue to spread about a possible Supervolcano eruption. And the fears aren’t completely unreasonable. After all, the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory has reported that an eruption 2 million years ago covered half of North America with ash and wiped out all prehistoric animals.

What’s more, another Supervolcano eruption would reportedly devastate the United States, dumping a 10-foot deep-layer of volcanic ash up to 1,000 miles away and rendering much of the nation uninhabitable for years to come.

Scientists believe the last full-on caldera eruption in Yellowstone was 640,000 years ago. Smaller eruptions have reportedly occurred in between and after the big blasts — most recently about 70,000 years ago.

Fears about an impending eruption seem to have been sparked by a YouTube video that shows a herd of bison sprinting along a roadway in Yellowstone. The video has been re-posted several times by different YouTube users, with many claiming the sprinting bison are fleeing the park.

However, a man who goes by “Yellowstone Leo” claims to have been the source of the original video, which was posted on March 14, 2014 — over two weeks days before the 4.8 earthquake. Leo also expressly notes in the clip’s description that the video shows a group of bison running deeper into the park.

Yellowstone spokesperson Dan Hottle confirmed that the bison in Leo’s video are in fact running back into the park. He also went a step further.

“If I pointed a camera out my window for 15 minutes, I could probably get another shot of bison running down my cul de sac,” Hottle said. “Those bison (in the YouTube video) are running because that’s what they do every day in Yellowstone.”

15 comments

  • Bellissimo Blanco

    This is normal migratory movement…Yesterday I spoke to a friend who protects the Bison & Lives in the park. He said nothing is out of the normal. The migratory numbers are higher & so it looks like there are more animals moving. It is all due to the health of the animals, the fact that they are protected better now & their numbers are up. Its a sensationalist story meant to get you all wound up.

  • sedna

    They’ll be hazed back into the park soon enough…those that survive the hazing. And the time to worry about big events is when the earthquakes stop: small quakes alleviate the pressure and help keep it from building up to a catastrophe.

  • Emanuel64

    They seemed pretty scared to me. And why is it that then animal actually ran. Not moving in a heard. This is what animals do when the sense danger hint: during tornadoes and so on….

    • Karin Keller

      These bison live in Yellowstone, where the grizzly and wolves live and hunt them. They do get scared and run. Not only that they are actually running into the park towards the super volcano instead of away from it.

  • Brett Moore

    Well, Thankfully I live in Australia so I can watch the mountain blow up from a safe distance away and only experience a climate change. Anything to make us a little cooler is good here in Aus :-)

  • Karin Keller

    I don’t know about anyone else, but for those of us who know the area. Where’s all the snow in this video that’s gone viral in the first place. Since a friend who lives in the Grand Teton Colter Bay area had help shoveling nearly 10 feet of snow about 3 weeks ago. Just wondering where all the snow in Yellowstone went with a dry road and all.

  • Michael Johnson

    Thankfully I live in the “kill zone.” God looks favorably on Wyoming again. The rest of you will likely end up eating each other.

    • Kathy

      I just had to say, love your comment. I live in Florida, which now that I’m thinking of it. I think i woukd rather be there too. Scary eitherway. Right? Eveyone will be effected by it nomatter where we live. Take care. Kathy

  • James

    If everything is all fine and dandy why didn’t they mention anything about the ground swells that have been reported? There saying the ground has raised as much as 10 inches in some areas. They can guess all the want because they don’t know if it will be in the next week, next decade or 10,000 years from now. Time will tell

  • Greg

    Its not that we don’t all believe everything the govt. officials tell us, but they start by saying this is normal migration for food this time of year, then say they were running out now back in as if they packed up some food to take home? They seem to be saying these animals jump the fence every year and run down the road, if so wouldn’t officials take out a section of fence to keep the animals from hurting themselves? Its ok by park officials that the animals run down the paved road as a heard every year, like the high probability of animal or human injury and/or property damage wouldn’t prompt some intervention? To conclude their little speal, its said that anyway the possibility of a super eruption would be thousands of years away like the 640,000 eruption that wiped out the prehistoric animals? Haven’t we been told for years that a meteor that impacted the Yucatan peninsula wiped them out? Has anyone noticed that the government no longer even tries to make up a believable story when they communicate with us or are asked for answers about something the citizens feel is important? Unfortunately this has and continues to be the norm instead of the exception. I guess we shouldn’t complain, the small group of mega rich that own this country do let us stay here and put houses on their land. We should probably stop asking them so many questions and mind our own business. Sorry about the soapbox. Common sense, if the wildlife continues to leave the area without looking back it might be wise to keep a bag packed just in case.

  • joanie

    i am in TN the way i look at it is if it does happen and it gos up than thats what god wonts know man can stop it

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