Wednesday, November 30, 2011

BBC's Frozen Planet: The Realities of Predator-Prey Inter-relationships (NNSL)

Bison-flipping bull's actions not out of the ordinary: hunter 

Herb Mathisen
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Raw and visceral footage shot in Wood Buffalo National Park has caused a stir online and, as a result, given one bison in particular a bad rep for, quite literally, throwing his herd mate to the wolves. 

Video of a large male bison plowing through a younger herd mate being attacked by wolves has gone viral, garnering more than 1.6 million hits on as of Nov. 21. The footage, taken in Wood Buffalo National Park by the BBC in 2009 and 2010 for its upcoming series, Frozen Planet, has sparked outrage online, due to what some see as the bull's cruel actions. - photo courtesy of
A clip from the BBC's upcoming Frozen Planet series has gone viral on, having amassed more than 1.6 million hits – as of Nov. 21 – since being uploaded Nov. 6.

The 21-second video – titled "Douchebag Bison" - begins with an immature bison under attack by a pack of 10 wolves. Three bison rumble passed it oblivious, followed by a hard-charging bull that plows right through the young bison, effectively flipping it over, and allowing it to fall prey to the wolves while the herd gallops away.
This popular clip was pared down from the full, four-minute segment that is set to appear in the documentary.
The video has spawned more than 3,700 comments – most of which are of the four-letter word variety typical of online comment boards – with the majority expressing shock at the apparently callous actions of the bull.
"Why didn't he just ram the wolves???" asks one commenter, 7commenter7.

Others took a more humourous tack: "I heard Peta (sic) is now after that bison," writes the user, aresgil.

It's the first time Stuart Macmillan, a park resource conservation manager, has witnessed bison acting in this fashion. He said it's really anyone's guess as to what the bull was thinking.

Macmillan's theory is that the bison was attempting to ram the attacking wolves, but accidentally ran into the yearling. However, he agreed it was also possible the bison was attempting to protect the herd by sacrificing the yearling or even trying to boost the fledgling beast.

"It's pretty hard to ascribe motive to a bison," he said.

Gabriel Lafferty, an experienced hunter from Fort Resolution, said the bull's actions are not out of the ordinary.
Lafferty said he used to help with bison round-ups when he was younger and he saw similar scenes play out.
"Usually the bulls will kill the young ones in the corral like that because they are in the way," he said.
"They would just put their horns right into them and they would flip them right over the eight-foot fence."
Lafferty said the three to four-year old bulls are typically the most aggressive.

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