Hiker caught kneeling in front of agitated bison at Yellowstone National Park

Bison wallowing in mud
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A woman narrowly avoided serious injury after kneeling down to get nose-to-nose with a huge bison at Yellowstone National Park recently. Agitated by her presence, the animal hauled itself onto the boardwalk in front of her, forcing her to back away.

A video of the incident (which you can see below) was posted by another park visitor, Jen, and shared via Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which serves to highlight examples of bad behavior at US National Parks, often involving wildlife. Past incidents have included park visitors taunting elk (and getting an antler through their car tire), chasing bears, and attempting to pet and ride bison.

The National Park Service (NPS) warns all visitors to stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) from bison at all times, for your safety and theirs. If you're not sure how far that is, close one eye, hold out your arm and give the bison a thumbs-up. If you can completely obscure the animal with your thumb, then you're in the clear. If not, it's time to back up and give it more space.

Bison at Yellowstone

Like all wild animals, bison are naturally wary of humans and prefer to avoid confrontation, but can become aggressive if they feel threatened. According to the NPS, they have injured more people at Yellowstone than any other animal, and some people have even died after being tossed in the air.

This time the park visitor escaped unscathed, but not everyone is so lucky. Three people were seriously injured by bison at Yellowstone last year after getting too close, and two women suffered abdominal injuries after being gored at US National Parks this summer.

Signs that a bison is agitated include bluff charging, head bobbing, pawing at the ground, and snorting. A raised tail (like that of the bison in the video) is also an indication that the animal is upset by your presence, and may soon charge.

For more advice on how to stay safe, see our guide 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.