Huge bison teaches three Yellowstone tourists a lesson about personal space

Bison standing in road at Yellowstone National Park
(Image credit: Getty)

Three hikers visiting Yellowstone National Park had a very close call when they strayed too close to a huge bison grazing on the roadside. The three girls approached the animal to get a better photo, but got the fright of their lives when the animal expressed its annoyance with a bluff charge.

The incident, which you can watch below, was recorded by another park visitor and shared on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone this week. The account focuses on examples of bad behavior at US National Parks and other sites of natural beauty, often involving wildlife. Past incidents have included a motorist having a tire punctured after taunting an elk, and visitors attempting to chase bears.

Although they are usually docile and prefer to avoid close encounters with people. bison are wild animals and can become aggressive if they feel threatened. In fact, according to the National Park Service (NPS), they are responsible for more injuries than any other animal at Yellowstone. Last year, three people were injured by bison at the park within a few weeks, prompting officials to share a poster asking visitors not to pet the 'fluffy cows'.

The park asks visitors to stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) from bison at all times, and never approach or otherwise disturb the animals. Instead, Park Rangers advise watching from a safe distance using a zoom lens or binoculars.

If you're not sure whether you're at a safe distance, close one eye, hold out your arm, and give the animal a thumbs-up. If you can completely cover the bison with your thumb then you are safe to stay and watch. If not, it's time to back up and give the animal its space. For more advice, and what to do if a bison charges, see our guide how to avoid being gored by a bison.

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.