Man challenges bison to a fight at Yellowstone National Park – it's a poor decision

Bison on road at Yellowstone National Park
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A tourist visiting Yellowstone National Park has been caught on camera ignoring official advice and common sense, marching up to a particularly large bison crossing a busy road and threatening the animal by shouting and gesturing.

A video of the incident, which took place in 2018 and was shared via Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone last week, shows the animal taking exception to this behavior and forcing him back with a bluff charge.

The man was lucky to avoid more serious consequences – according to the National Park Service, bison are responsible for more injuries at Yellowstone than any other animal – but he didn't escape all repercussions. Law enforcement officers issued a warrant for his arrest, and he was later arrested at Glacier National Park after getting involved in a fight.

“The individual’s behavior in this video is reckless, dangerous and illegal,” said Yellowstone superintendent Dan Wenk at the time. "People who ignore [wildlife safety] rules are risking their lives and threatening the park experience for everyone else."

Approaching, distracting, or harassing wildlife at US National Parks is illegal, and those found guilty can expect fines, bans, and even jail time.

In 2021, a woman was sentenced to four days in jail after approaching a grizzly bear and her cubs at Yellowstone National Park. The visitor came within a few feet of the animals to take photos, and refused to move away, even after the mother charged. Samantha Dehring, from Illinois, was also ordered to pay fines totalling $2,000 and banned from Yellowstone for a year. 

"The park is not a zoo where animals can be viewed within the safety of a fenced enclosure. They roam freely in their natural habitat and when threatened will react accordingly," said  Bob Murray, acting US attorney for Wyoming, after the sentencing.

"Approaching a sow grizzly with cubs is absolutely foolish. Here, pure luck is why Dehring is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist."

For more advice, see our guides how to avoid being gored by a bison, what to do if you meet a bear, and wildlife safety: eight tips for surprise 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.