In a photo taken by another park visitor, a large group can be seen crowding around a bison grazing near their tent, surrounding it from all angles. Bison generally prefer to avoid close contact with people, but like all wild animals they can become aggressive if threatened, which might happen if they have no easy route to escape an uncomfortable situation.
The incident was caught on camera by another vacationer, Andy Huffman, and shared online via Instagram account TouronsOfNationalParks, which calls out examples of bad behavior at sites of natural beauty around the world.
Other recent posts have included an elk charging tourists at the Grand Canyon, a photographer creeping up behind a bison at a State Park, and a couple using a bison as a photo prop.
A photo posted by on
Bison are an important part of the ecosystem at Badlands National Park, which is now home to one of the biggest federal bison herds in North America. As the National Park Service (NPS) explains, the reintroduction of bison to the area began in 1963, when 50 animals were brought in using a pair of trucks. Today, there are almost 1,000 individuals roaming the grassland, which is enough to maintain genetic diversity and ensure the herd survives long-term.
The opportunity to see these majestic animals is a real highlight of any visit, but visitors are warned to give them plenty of space. However calm they may seem, their mood and behavior can change quickly.
"Park regulations require visitors to keep a 100-foot distance from park wildlife, especially bison, which can run faster than 30 miles per hour and can inflict fatal wounds with their sharp horns," says the NPS.
Keep your distance
Close encounters with wildlife can be dangerous for animals and people alike, and the NPS recently issued a warning reminding visitors to keep their distance and respect safety regulations.
"Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in some cases, their survival," officials wrote in a statement following the deaths of several animals at Yellowstone. "When an animal is near a campsite, trail, boardwalk, parking lot, on a road, or in a developed area, leave it alone and give it space."
For more advice, see our guides how to avoid being gored by a bison and wildlife safety: eight tips for unexpected encounters.
- Best binoculars and monoculars: enjoy wildlife from a safe distance
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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.