Bandana-wearing hiker uses bison as photo prop in icy Yellowstone National Park

Bison in snow at Yellowstone National Park
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Much of Yellowstone National Park is still under a blanket of snow, but that doesn't stop some hikers seizing the opportunity to grab a photo with the local wildlife at dangerously close range. Just a few days after the National Park Service (NPS) shared a warning about getting too close to animals for bucket list photos, a visitor has been caught posing for a photo with a bison in the icy conditions.

This recent incident was shared online via infamous Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which calls out bad behavior at US National Parks, all too often involving wildlife.

Most roads at Yellowstone are still closed to vehicles while spring snow-clearing efforts are underway, but are due to reopen in the next couple of weeks. Bike routes opened last week between the park's west entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs for cyclists brave enough to face the chilly conditions, but riders have been warned to take particular care around animals like bison and elk, which use roads as travel corridors when snow is deep.

Hikers will need to be particularly mindful when visiting during the spring, because many animals will be guarding their young. Bison and elk are particularly protective mothers, and are likely to charge people who stray too close to their calves.

Interfering with young animals can also have tragic consequences. Last year, a well-meaning visitor tried to help a newborn bison calf up out of a riverbank at Yellowstone, but it was rejected by its herd and Park Rangers ultimately took the difficult decision to put it down after it began approaching people and cars.

Stay safe

Despite their fuzzy appearance and seemingly docile temperament, bison are responsible for more injuries than any other animal at Yellowstone National Park.

"The animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable, no matter how calm they appear to be," says the NPS. "The safest (and often best) view of wildlife is from inside a car."

Visitors should stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) from bison and elk at all times, and 100 yards (91 meters) from bears and wolves. For more advice, see our guides how to avoid being gored by a bison and how to enjoy elk rutting season safely.

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.