'He's going right at him' – Yellowstone tourist ignores signs of enraged bison

Bison at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
(Image credit: Getty)

A man visiting Yellowstone National Park had a frighteningly close encounter with one of the native bison recently, when he decided to crouch down inches from the animal's snout to get a close-up photo, completely ignoring the agitated animal's body language.

The incident was caught on camera by another park visitor, Mary Ann Kennedy, who was stunned just how close the photographer was willing to get, and noted that the bison was "going right at him".

Kennedy's video was shared on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone (currently suspended), which highlights bad behavior at US National Parks and other sites of natural beauty. Such incidents often involve bison, with visitors spotted trying to pet, and even ride the animals.

This time the visitor was lucky and the animal chose to leave after investigating the camera, but a raised tail is a clear signal that a bison is distressed and likely to charge. Other warning signs include vocalizations such as grunts, pawing the ground, and making bluff charges to scare you away.

Not all visitors who approach bison are so fortunate, and according to the National Park Service (NPS), they are responsible for more injuries than any other animal at Yellowstone, including bears and snakes. Last summer, three people were gored at the park within the space of a month, including one woman who suffered a serious puncture wound from an animal's horn.

Bison are one of Yellowstone's main attractions, but the NPS warns visitors to stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) away from them at all times, and to ideally watch them from the safety of a vehicle. If you're not sure whether you're far enough away, close one eye, hold out your arm, and give the bison a thumbs-up. If you can completely hide the animal behind your thumb, you're OK.

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.