A pair of tourists visiting Yellowstone National Park recently got the fright of a lifetime when they strayed too close to a pair of the park's bison, the larger of which decided to scare them back with a bluff charge.
The incident was recorded by another park visitor, and shared on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone (opens in new tab), which highlights bad behavior at US National Parks and other sites of natural beauty – often involving interactions with wildlife.
In the video, which you can watch below, the bison only charges a few paces to intimidate the two men who are well within its personal space. However, its tail becomes raised, which according to the National Park Service (opens in new tab) (NPS) is a sign that it's agitated, and may become more aggressive.
A post shared by TouronsOfYellowstone (@touronsofyellowstone) (opens in new tab)
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The NPS states that visitors to National Parks should stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) away from bison at all time, and forbids tourists from approaching, feeding, or intimidating any wild animals.
One good way to determine whether you're a safe distance away is to use the 'rule of thumb'. Hold your arm out, give the bison a thumbs up, and close one eye. If you're able to hide the bison from view using your thumb, you're at a reasonable distance. If not, you should back up and give the animal more space. For more advice, see our guide how to avoid being gored by a bison.
Although usually docile, bison are huge and unpredictable, and according to the NPS (opens in new tab) are responsible for more injuries than any other animals at Yellowstone. Despite the warnings, park visitors often underestimate the danger and are seen approaching, feeding, petting, and even attempting to ride the animals.
Earlier this year, park officials released a poster warning visitors not to pet the "fluffy cows" after three visitors were seriously injured by bison in the space of a week. On May 31 a woman was tossed in the air while walking on a boardwalk near a bison, on June 27 a man suffered arm injuries after being charged near Old Faithful, and on June 29 a woman was gored at Storm Point near Yellowstone Lake.
- The best binoculars and monoculars: appreciate wildlife from a safe distance
Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 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).
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