"Do people just think they’re hairier deer?" – Yellowstone tourist incites rage by using bison as props for selfies

American bison in field
(Image credit: Getty)

Tempers are flaring after a man visiting Yellowstone National Park was filmed crouching beside a pair of bison to take photos, then turning his back to snap a few selfies with the animals for good measure.

"Do people just think they’re hairier deer?" asked one commenter after the footage was shared on infamous Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone ('touron' being a portmanteau of 'tourist' and 'moron').

"All the time he had his back turned to get a photo, he was missing out on really enjoying these magnificent creatures," added another poster. "Stand away from them and use your zoom feature. Your face in the photo ruins it."

Although the video (which you can see above) was posted this week, it appears to have been shot during the summer. Most roads in Yellowstone are currently closed to everything except commercial snowmobile and snowcoach trips, with bison left to forage in the snow (and slide around on icy creeks) mostly undisturbed.

If you're curious about how these mighty animals survive during the cold months the short film -37°F in Yellowstone National Park by photographer Drew Simms gives an unusually intimate view of bison facing the challenges of bitterly cold temperatures, heavy snowfall, and scarce food during the off-season. It was recorded during a camping excursion last winter, and shows a side of the huge animals that most people never see.

Wildlife safety at Yellowstone

The National Park Service (NPS) warns visitors to stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) from bison and elk at all times. If you're not sure how far that is, try holding out your arm, closing one eye, and giving the animal a thumbs-up. If you can hide it completely behind your thumb, you're at a safe distance to keep watching with a pair of binoculars, a monocular, or your camera's zoom.

"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."

You are far more likely to be injured by a bison than a bear at Yellowstone, and people are seriously hurt almost every year after getting too close. Last year, two visitors were gored by bison within a week at US National Parks, sustaining serious abdominal injuries. 

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.