Careless hikers run for their lives after straying too close to territorial bison

Bison at Antelope Island State Park, Utah, USA
(Image credit: Getty)

Two men visiting Antelope Island had a shock after getting too close to one of the state park's hundreds of free-roaming bison recently. The pair came across the animal on a trail, and rather than turning back or finding a different route, one man decided to approach it while the other recorded the encounter on his phone. Predictably, the animal reacted to the intrusion, charging both men and forcing them back.

The video, which you can watch below, was shared via Instagram account TouronsOfNationalParks, which calls out bad behavior at sites of natural beauty, such as visitors trying to pet bison, chasing bears, and poking moose.

Despite the pair's giggling, the encounter could have ended very differently. Bison can be extremely dangerous when provoked, and two women were hospitalized with serious abdominal injuries after getting too close at US National Parks this summer. Last year, three people were gored at Yellowstone within a month.

Antelope Island is surrounded by saltwater, but its springs provide enough fresh water to support a huge population of animals including mule deep, bighorn sheep, pronghorns (antelope), and bison – as well as thousands of birds and small desert animals. 

Twelve bison were brought to the island in 1893, and today the herd numbers between 550 and 700 individuals. State park officials round up the animals for an annual census and health check, and some may be sold to help keep the population under control.

"Approaching any animal can be dangerous to you and stressful to the animal," warns Utah State Parks. "Feeding, touching, teasing, or intentionally disturbing any wildlife is prohibited except as approved for authorized hunting. Disturbing is any activity that causes the animal to change their behavior."

It's safest to view large mammals like bison and elk from inside a vehicle, and if on foot, you should stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) away at all times. For more advice, see our guides how to avoid being gored by a bison and wildlife safety: eight tips for unexpected encounters.

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.