Yellowstone Bison: Mensa Material?

By Candace Dempsey, author of Murder in Italy, the true story of Amanda Knox. 

Yes, I, too, want to believe Yellowstone's bison are Cassandras able to predict natural disasters way ahead of scientists. That they know just when to get the hell out of Dodge. But I couldn't help laughing--and being skeptical--when Britain's Independent newspaper went crazy on Twitter tonight: Animals are fleeing Yellowstone Park in vast numbers, sparking fears a super volcano may erupt. 

Like much of the Twitterverse, the Guardian fell for the "ALERT! Yellowstone Buffalo Running for Their Lives!"video that went viral right around April Fool's Day (Yes, should've been a clue.). Said video claims to show the mammoth beasts thundering out of the snow-driven park in droves, sensing doom. A massive earthquake, maybe. A volcano erupting under the hot springs and fumaroles.

Having worked in Yellowstone National Park one enchanted summer, I tried to suspend disbelief (if they're so smart, how come they nearly went extinct?). Then some spoilsport scientist told the Christian Science Monitor  that bison are migratory. They often leave the park, looking for green things to chow down. To add insult to injury:

Park officials have noted that these two dozen or so bison are actually running deeper into the park, not away from it. In fact, many of Yellowstone's 4,600 bison are outside the park right now.Why? Not because of Sunday's 4.8-magnitude earthquake, which was Yellowstone's biggest quake in decades but is still just one of the 1,000 to 3,000 temblors the park sees each year. 

Why did the bison cross the road? They were hungry. Sometimes real life isn't stranger than fiction.