Are bison fleeing Yellowstone ahead of volcano eruption?

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Yellowstone National Park has responded to a video that apparently shows Bison running inside the park two weeks prior to Sunday’s earthquake, leading to speculation online that the animals “sensed” Sunday’s earthquake and were fleeing ahead of a possible volcano eruption.

A 4.8-magnitude earthquake struck the park on Sunday, the strongest to hit the park since 1980.

Videos posted on YouTube back in February show Bison leaving the park. A video shot on March 14 shows several Bison running on a road inside Yellowstone Park. The video’s description reads:

“This herd of Yellowstone National Park Bison dashes from Mammoth Hot Springs eastward along the roadway and deeper into the park.”

After Sunday’s earthquake, the March 14 video went viral with some claiming the Bison “sensed” the earthquake, prompting additional conspiracy theories that the earthquake could soon set off the Yellowstone Super Volcano.

On Monday, Yellowstone officials posted a video hoping to dispel the viral myths.

“We get some pretty wild rumors out there,” Yellowstone Public Affairs Chief Al Nash said in the video. “We see between 1,000 and 3,000 earthquakes each year, but most are so small no one feels them.”

Nash said bison, elk and several other animals have moved outside the park, but primarily due to changing seasons.

“They tend to migrate… outside the park to lower elevations where they think there might be something to eat that’s easier to get at,” Nash said. “When the snow melts off and things start to green up, those same animals will walk back into the park.”

“We have seen no signs to suggest the Yellowstone Volcano is about to erupt,” Nash said.

The belief that animals can predict earthquakes has been around for hundreds of years, however it has never been proven by scientists.

According to a study, ants are able to sense earthquakes before they strike. For three years, researchers tracked red wood ants living in active faults. There were 10 earthquakes between magnitudes of 2.0 and 3.2 between 2009-2012.

Before an earthquake, the ants were “awake throughout the night, outside their mound, vulnerable to predators,” researchers said. Normal ant behavior would resume the day after the earthquake. Researchers believe the ants could detect gas emissions or shifts in the Earth’s magnetic field.

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