Man who taunted bison pleads his case
Claims he thought it was a car accident—but it turned into a train wreck of web video infamy
He’s the man now known around the globe for appearing in a recent viral video taunting a bison in Yellowstone National Park.
But Raymond Reinke—who describes himself as a pet owner with compassion for wildlife—claims that’s not the whole picture.
Reinke, 55, of Pendleton, Ore., spoke Aug. 5 to the Lookout through a visitation phone at Gallatin County Detention Center about the events leading up to his man vs. bison standoff on July 31. Reinke’s bizarre and alarming encounter with the bison inspired this lead from The New York Times: “Why did the bison cross the road? Apparently to get away from the belligerent human who was taunting it.”
Reinke takes issue with the taunting charge, insisting he was doing the bison a favor by shooing it off the road. He believed the bison was unnecessarily boxed in by the tourist traffic and decided to do something about it. “They (the motorists caught in the bison jam) were harassing that thing. They put it in a box. It didn’t have anywhere to go,” said Reinke (pronounced “like the Rhine River”).
As for the string of law enforcement calls involving Reinke in three national parks, he insisted all the recent trouble started with an argument over whether a dog named Boots would one day hurt another dog named Digger.
Boots is a boxer. Digger is a little blue heeler Chihuahua mix.
Reinke’s unidentified friend, roommate and traveling companion reportedly feared Digger was in danger when the much bigger Boots mouthed Digger’s little head and used its paws to pin Digger down. On July 28, the two travelers fought loudly enough about their dogs to attract the attention of authorities at Grand Teton National Park, said Reinke.
This led to a drunk and disorderly conduct charge for Reinke, who spent a night in the Teton County Jail. That’s one of three holding facilities he’s visited during his recent swing through national parks, from Grand Teton to Yellowstone to Glacier, where he was apprehended at the Many Glacier Hotel.
Reinke is now in the Gallatin County Detention Center waiting to meet with a public defender. When asked what he’d like to say to the millions of people who’ve seen the video of him squaring off with a bison, Reinke insisted he was just trying to get it off the road for its own good.
He admits things didn’t turn out as planned. Reinke said he couldn’t see the bison from where he was stopped in a long line of traffic that he claimed was stalled for more than 45 minutes. When he walked up the road to see what was causing the delay, Reinke said he expected to find a car crash.
Instead, for the first time in his life, recalled Reinke, he encountered a bison in the wild.
Admittedly, from that moment on, Reinke said things didn’t go as planned.
“I thought I was doing a good deed,” he explained, again characterizing his curiosity to see what was up ahead as an effort to lend a hand at the scene of an auto accident.
Then, there was the bison, said Reinke, adding contritely, “I stared down a buffalo, man. That’s not a good thing to do.”