Yellowstone tourists learn the hard way that bison really don't appreciate cars in their personal space

Bison on road at Yellowstone National Park, seen through car window
(Image credit: Getty)

Hormones are running high in Yellowstone National Park as bison enter their mating season, known as the rut. Males are particularly prone to aggression as they compete for dominance, so it's more important than ever to make sure you give them plenty of space, whether you're traveling by foot or car.

A video compilation posted last week via Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone (which you can see below) shows exactly what can happen to even careful drivers during this time of year if they encounter a particularly highly-strung male.

The National Park Service (NPS) warns that "The safest (and often best) view of wildlife is from inside a car," and this collection of clips shows exactly why. Bison are powerful animals, and their sharp horns can easily tear through a vehicle's bumper if they take exception to your presence.

Last year, a couple went viral after they posted a video of their close encounter with a bison that rammed their car without provocation and pierced the front right tire. The Instagram account on which it was shared usually documents bad behavior like people taunting elk or trying to pet bears, but this incident was just bad luck. 

Bison safety

Summer is one of the best times of year to see bison, as the males engage in bellowing, wallowing and fighting. It can also be particularly dangerous, but with the right precautions you can enjoy the spectacular sights safely.

The NPS advises always staying at least 25 yards (23 meters) away from large herbivores like bison and elk, and 100 yards (91 meters) from wolves and bears.

"Approaching bison threatens them, and they may respond by bluff charging, head bobbing, pawing, bellowing, or snorting," says the NPS. "These are warning signs that you are too close and that a charge is imminent."

If you're planning a visit to a US National Park over the coming weeks, take a look at our guide wildlife safety: eight tips for unexpected encounters. Our list of wildlife photography tips from a pro will also come in handy, giving you expert advice to help you capture natural animal behavior while keeping you and them safe.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.