"I'm cheering for the assault cows" – Yellowstone tourists scorned after posing for photos with bison

Bison herd at Yellowstone National Park
(Image credit: Getty)

Tourists at Yellowstone National Park are facing harsh criticism after wandering into a bison herd to take photos of themselves with the animals. The people were caught on camera posing with bison at a parking lot in one of the park's geothermal areas.

A video of the incident, recorded by Yellowstone tour guide Katie Milesky, was shared this week via infamous Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which calls out bad behavior at US National Parks and implores visitors to take care around wildlife.

"As a Park Ranger/EMT for the National Park Service I can tell you **** like this happens way [too] often," wrote one commenter. "People then complain why is Park Ranger blank so mean... well **** like this forces us to be stern."

Other commenters were more candid, with one writing "I’m cheering for the assault cows."

Stay safe around bison

According to the NPS, bison are responsible for more injuries at Yellowstone than any other animal, including wolves and bears, and each year there are reports of people being seriously injured after getting too close. In 2023, two women were gored by bison at US National Parks within the space of a week. Both survived, but were hospitalized with abdominal injuries.

Selfie-taking is particularly risky; turning your back to the animal means you are likely to miss changes in behavior like pawing the ground and raising the tail, both of which signal that the animal is distressed and liable to charge.

Five people were attacked by bison at Yellowstone in 2015, including one woman trying to take selfies with her daughter in front of an animal.

"When they turned their backs to the bison to take the picture, someone warned that they were too close," said the NPS in a statement after the attack. "They heard the bison’s footsteps moving toward them and started to run, but the bison caught the mother on the right side, lifted her up and tossed her with its head."

Approaching or distracting wild animals at US National Parks is illegal, and punishable by a fine or jail time. The NPS advises staying at least 25 yards (23 meters) from bison and elk at all times. If you're not sure how far that is, close one eye, hold out your arm, and give the animal a thumbs-up. If you can completely hide it behind your thumb, you can carry on watching, being mindful of any behavioral changes.

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.