Man harasses mother bison and calf for photos at Yellowstone National Park, despite warnings from Rangers

Mother bison with calf in field
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A man has been spotted approaching a bison and her calf at close range for photos at Yellowstone National Park, despite warnings from officials that cows are fiercely protective, and likely to lash out if they believe their young are threatened.

The tourist was spotted trying to hide behind a parked car while the two animals crossed a road, and was lucky to go unnoticed. According to the National Park Service, bison are responsible for more injuries at Yellowstone than any other animal, possibly due to their passing resemblance to domestic cattle.

"Bison are unpredictable and can run three times faster than humans," says the NPS. "Always stay at least 25 yards (23m) away from bison."

A video of the close call, recorded by Bea Bondus from the safety of a vehicle, was shared via infamous Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone this week, and comes as a timely reminder to respect wildlife as the park begins to re-open for the summer season. Select roads are now open to the public, including the West Entrance to Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful, and Norris Junction to Canyon Village. More roads will open next month as weather permits.

Interfering with wildlife is strictly prohibited at US National Parks, and those prosecuted face fines, bans, and even jail time.

Last year, Park Rangers at Yellowstone made the difficult decision to euthanize a bison calf after a well-meaning member of the public tried to reunite it with its herd by pushing it up from a river bank. The man, who was caught on camera handling the animal, pleaded guilty to intentionally disturbing wildlife, and was ordered to pay fines and fees totalling $1,040.

"Yellowstone National Park wants to remind the public that approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival," said officials in a statement after the sentencing.

"Park regulations require that people stay at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all wildlife (including bison, elk and deer) and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves. Disregarding these regulations can result in fines, injury and even death."

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.