"Selfie goals should not include wild animals" Park Rangers warn bison-loving hikers

Couple taking selfie on road by 'wildlife crossing' sign
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The National Park Service (NPS) is reminding visitors to keep their distance from wildlife when hiking, and enjoy watching animals from a safe distance rather than being tempted to creep up for a selfie.

"Felt cute, might be in pain later," the NPS posted on X (formerly Twitter). "Selfie goals should not include wild animals."

That might seem like common sense, but as we've seen over the last few years, when presented with a particularly spectacular photo opportunity, it can be tempting to throw caution to the wind, particularly if the animal in question doesn't appear particularly dangerous. Most people would think twice about snapping a selfie with a bear, but taking one with a bison can be almost as dangerous.

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Every year people are seriously injured after getting too close to bison, accidentally or on purpose, and 2015 was a particularly bad year with five attacks at Yellowstone National Park alone. As the BBC reports, one victim, a 43-year-old woman, had stopped to take a selfie with her daughter in front of a bison when the animal charged. 

"When they turned their backs to the bison to take the picture, someone warned that they were too close," said the NPS in a statement after the attack. "They heard the bison’s footsteps moving toward them and started to run, but the bison caught the mother on the right side, lifted her up and tossed her with its head."

The NPS issued another warning the following year after a woman was filmed trying to take a selfie with an elk, which became distressed and charged at her.

"People generally are just so excited to be in a park, and the next cool thing is if they can get a picture of wildlife, and then the third thing is 'Can I get a picture of me and the wildlife?'" NPS spokesperson Jeffrey Olson told ABC News at the time.

Rangers warns visitors that visiting a National Park is not like going to the zoo; there are few barriers, if any, to separate you from the animals, and you are in their territory. 

"Animals may appear to be calm and docile but are unpredictable and can easily be startled," says the NPS. "Remember that you, the visitor, are responsible for your safety and for the safety of the animals, too."

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.