Thoughtless family members take turns posing for photos with bison at Yellowstone National Park

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

A group of visitors have been spotted posing for photos just a few feet from a herd of bison at snow-bound Yellowstone National Park, taking it in turns to snap pictures of one another with the animals by the park’s north entrance.

The tourists stopped for their photo session by the Roosevelt Arch, which stands some 50ft tall and is made from hundreds of tons of local basalt rock. It would normally be a spectacular photo spot, but in a video posted on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone last week (which you can see below), the family totally ignores the towering landmark, preferring to use the bison as a backdrop. One woman can even be seen carrying a small child.

Most of the park is currently closed for spring snow plowing, with the north entrance being the only road currently open to general vehicles. Other roads are due to re-open in mid-April (see the official road status map for current conditions). 

It’s always important to give bison plenty of space (the National Park Service recommends at least 25 yards, or 23 meters), and even more so during the spring. Soon after roads reopen, visitors will be treated to the sight of bison with their calves, also known as ‘red dogs’ due to their ginger-colored fur, but females (cows) are extremely protective of their young and may attack any visitors to get too close.

Keep your distance

Even if there are no adult animals nearby, disturbing calves can have serious consequences. Last year a newborn bison was euthanized after a well-meaning visitor tried to help it up a riverbank. The calf was rejected by the rest of the herd, and began approaching people and vehicles.

“Every day in national parks, some animals die so that others may live. In fact, as many as 25% of the bison calves born this spring will die, but those deaths will benefit other animals by feeding everything from bears and wolves to birds and insects,” said the National Park Service in a statement after the incident.

“Allowing this cycle of life to play out aligns most closely with the stewardship responsibility entrusted to us by the American people. Unfortunately, the calf's behavior on roads and around people was hazardous, so rangers had to intervene: but the calf’s body was left on the landscape.”

Males (bulls) become particularly aggressive during the mating season in late summer and early fall, as they compete for dominance and the right to mate. Last summer, two people were gored by bison at US National Parks within the space of a week. Both survived, but suffered serious abdominal injuries.

For more advice, take a look at 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.