Taking selfies with the bison at Yellowstone is a terrible idea – and this is why

Bison herd at Yellowstone National Park
(Image credit: Getty)

A man found himself in a sticky situation at Yellowstone National Park after wandering up to a herd of bison to snap photos and finding himself surrounded on all sides.

A video of the incident, which you can see below, was shared this week via Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone. The account calls out irresponsible behavior at US National Parks, all too often involving wildlife like bison, bears, and elk.

Bison are the most dangerous animals at Yellowstone according to the National Park Service (NPS), responsible for more injuries than any other creatures, including bears and wolves. Last summer, two women were gored by bison at US National Parks within the space of a week, and just a few days ago an 83-year-old woman suffered serious injuries when she was gored.

"The bison, defending its space, came within a few feet of the woman and lifted her about a foot off the ground with its horns," said a spokesperson for the NPS in a report after the incident.

This particular man remained on the boardwalk, but bison can easily hop up onto the path, even if doing so causes the wood to splinter. It's always best to give the animals plenty of space and use a telephoto lens to take pictures of them engaging in natural behavior from a safe distance.

Wildlife safety at Yellowstone

The (NPS) warns visitors to stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) from bison and elk at all times. If you're not sure how far that is, try holding out your arm, closing one eye, and giving the animal a thumbs-up. If you can hide it completely behind your thumb, you're at a safe distance to keep watching with a pair of binoculars, a monocular, or your camera's zoom.

"The animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable, no matter how calm they appear to be," says the NPS. "The safest (and often best) view of wildlife is from inside a car."

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.