Man arrested on suspicion of harassing Yellowstone bison

Alleged to have also caused trouble in Grand Teton, Glacier


Authorities allege an Oregon man harassed a bison on Tuesday as part of a string of disruptive behavior in Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier national parks.

Raymond T. Reinke, 55 is facing six misdemeanor charges in Wyoming’s U.S. District Court, including one of harassing wildlife.

At a Friday hearing in Yellowstone, a U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carman ordered Reinke to be held in in jail at Mammoth Hot Springs until at least Wednesday. That’s when Reinke is scheduled to enter pleas — and when Carmon will hear arguments on whether the Pendleton, Oregon, resident should be released from jail pending further proceedings.

Reinke’s trouble started with a Saturday, July 28 incident in Grand Teton National Park, which the National Park Sevice says involved “drunk and disorderly conduct.” Reinke was arrested and cited for being under the influence of alcohol to a degree that endangered himself or others, interference with/resisting an officer and unreasonable noise.

After a night at the Teton County jail in Jackson, Reinke was released on an unsecured bond, according to Park Service officials and court records. Carman ordered him to not drink alcohol and to obey the law, among other conditions, while he awaited a hearing set for later this month.

However, authorities allege Reinke ran into trouble again a few days later.

Around 2:45 p.m. Tuesday, rangers in Yellowstone National Park reportedly pulled over the vehicle Reinke was riding in and cited him for failing to wear a seat. Reinke was argumentative during the stop and “appeared to be intoxicated,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Pico wrote in a filing.

Unaware of Reinke’s bond conditions, rangers allowed him and his traveling companion to go on their way, Pico wrote.

Just hours later, around 8:10 p.m., visitors reported that Reinke was “harassing and herding bison” in Hayden Valley, the prosecutor said.

“A video taken by visitors shows a man, identified as Reinke by rangers, shouting at and approaching a bison,” Pico wrote.

In the video clip, fellow visitors can be heard yelling at Reinke as he stands in the middle of traffic, waving his arms, flexing and otherwise taunting the bison — which appears to nearly gore him at one pont.

“Get out of there, you dummy,” a bystander yelled at Reinke.

A child’s voice can also be heard cheering on the animal: “Come on buffalo — don’t let them boss you around.”

A woman named Lindsey Jones uploaded the footage to her Facebook page with the hastag #dontdrinkandbuffalo.

Yellowstone rangers caught back up with Reinke near the Tower area and cited him for disturbing wildlife and having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle. (His traveling companion, meanwhile, was cited for possessing a controlled substance.)

Pico said the rangers remained unaware of Reinke’s past citations — and had not yet seen the footage of the incident; Reinke was again allowed to go on his way with citations and an order to appear in court at a later date.

Things changed after Jones uploaded her footage of the incident to Facebook Wednesday morning. The clip quickly went viral: More than 6 million people viewed the video on her personal page, plus countless others who saw it on the sites of the many media outlets who put together stories about the altercation.

On Thursday, prosecutor Pico asked for Reinke’s bond in the Grand Teton case to be revoked and requested a warrant. The decision to seek Reinke’s arrest came after “Yellowstone rangers connected Reinke’s extensive history” and after law enforcement officials saw “the egregious nature of the wildlife violation” in the video, Park Service officials said in a news release.

In a statement posted to Yellowstone’s official Facebook page on Thursday, park superintendent Dan Wenk called the behavior shown in the footage “reckless, dangerous and illegal.”

Reinke had told authorities that he planned to travel to Glacier National Park, so rangers there began looking for him Thursday night.

However, at the same time that the officers were starting their search, they were summoned to the Many Glacier Hotel for a report of two guests “arguing and creating a disturbance in the hotel dining room,” Park Service officials said in the release.

“Rangers identified one of the individuals involved as Reinke,” said the release. He was arrested on the warrant.

Glacier rangers transported Reinke to Helena, Montana, that night, where Yellowstone rangers picked him up and brought him the rest of the way to Mammoth.

“We appreciate the collaboration of our fellow rangers in Glacier and Grand Teton national parks on this arrest,” Wenk said in a statement. “Harassing wildlife is illegal in any national park.”

Yellowstone officials continue to remind people to obey park regulations by staying away from wildlife (at least 25 yards from animals like bison and elk and 100 yards from bears and wolves).