Yellowstone hiker ignores warnings to take selfies with massive bison on boardwalk

Close-up of bison at Yellowstone National Park, USA
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A man has been spotted at Yellowstone National Park defying instructions from Rangers and common sense to pose for selfies with one of the huge bison roaming the grasslands. A photo of the man, snapped by another park visitor from a safe distance, was posted on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone this week as a timely reminder to give animals plenty of space as hiking season kicks into gear.

The photo, which you can see below, was taken by the teenage son of Keri Daniel, who said he couldn't believe what he was witnessing. 

Just a few days ago, the National Park Service (NPS) posted a warning on X (formerly Twitter) reminding people that their selfie goals should not include wild animals, and that getting too close is dangerous to both people and wildlife.

According to the NPS, bison are responsible for more injuries at Yellowstone than any other animal, including wolves and bears, and each year there are reports of people being seriously injured after getting too close. In 2023, two women were gored by bison at US National Parks within the space of a week. Both survived, but were hospitalized with abdominal injuries.

Selfie-taking is particularly risky; turning your back to the animal means you are likely to miss changes in behavior like pawing the ground and raising the tail, both of which signal that the animal is distressed and liable to charge.

Five people were attacked by bison at Yellowstone in 2015, including one woman trying to take selfies with her daughter in front of an animal.

"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."

Approaching or distracting wild animals at US National Parks is illegal, and punishable by a fine or jail time. The NPS advises staying at least 25 yards (23 meters) from bison and elk at all times. If you're not sure how far that is, close one eye, hold out your arm, and give the animal a thumbs-up. If you can completely hide it behind your thumb, you can carry on watching, being mindful of any behavioral changes.

For more advice, see our guides how to avoid being gored by a bison and wildlife safety: eight tips for unexpected encounters.

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.