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Watch thoughtless Yellowstone tourist attempt to pet and ride huge bison

American bison in field
(Image credit: Getty)

A man visiting Yellowstone National Park risked serious injury when he approached within arm's reach of a huge male bison and attempted to pet it. The man also asked whether he could ride the animal. He captured the entire encounter in a video, which you can watch below.

He starts by approaching the bull as it lies chewing the cud, and telling it he's its friend, straying much too far into his personal space. He then asks eagerly whether he can ride it, and flinches when it rejects his advances.

He then attempts to pet the animal and reaches out to stroke its fur, causing it to stand. The man accuses it of being "not very friendly".

This visitor was fortunate to have encountered a particularly patient bull, but not everyone is so lucky. Bison cause more injures at Yellowstone than any other animal, including bears, often when people underestimate their speed and strength.

After several injuries earlier this year (including two people who were gored within a week (opens in new tab))  the National Park Service published a poster imploring visitors not to "pet the fluffy cows" – a message that clearly didn't get through to everyone.

"It’s illegal to feed, touch, tease, frighten, or intentionally disturb wildlife," said the NPS in an Instagram post (opens in new tab). "Remember that wildlife in parks are wild and can be unpredictable when they’re disturbed or surprised."

Yellowstone's bison population fluctuates between 2,300 and 4,500 animals, and they are enormously powerful creatures. A female can reach up to 1,200lb, while males can weigh as much as 2,000lb, and can run at 35 miles per hour. 

The park advises that visitors always stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) away from the creatures, and take particular care during summer and early fall, as the animals enter their mating (or rutting) season. During this period bulls can be particularly temperamental and aggressive as they compete for dominance, bellowing, clashing with rivals, and sometimes ramming the cars of park visitors.

For more advice on how to stay safe, see our guide how to avoid being gored by a bison.

Cat Ellis
Editor

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).