Yellowstone tourist learns the hard way why you don't stick a phone in a bison's face

Bison at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
(Image credit: Getty)

A young woman has been caught on camera being butted off the boardwalk after holding her phone right in front of a bison's face at Yellowstone National Park. The woman appeared to be trying to get a close-up photo of the animal, and seemed completely unaware of just how dangerous they can be when provoked.

Bison, like all wild animals, prefer to avoid close contact with humans but can become aggressive if they feel threatened. Visitors to Yellowstone are warned to stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) from bison at all times.

This incident (which you can watch below) was caught on camera by fellow park visitor Russ Bjorn, and shared on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which highlights bad behavior at US National Parks and other sites of natural beauty. Other recent incidents have included people trying to pet bison, and even asking to ride them.

The National Park Service (NPS) warns visitors that bison have injured more people at Yellowstone National Park than any other animal, including bears and snakes. Just last year, three people were gored by bison within a month, prompting Park Rangers to publish a poster imploring guests not to 'pet the fluffy cows'.

The safest place to watch wildlife is from within the safety of your car, but if you're on foot then there's an easy way to tell whether you're giving the animals enough space. Close one eye, hold out one arm, and give the bison a thumbs up. If you can completely hide the animal behind your thumb then you're OK. If not, move back to give the bison more room.

Pawing at the ground, grunting, making bluff charges, and raising the tail (as you can see in this video) are all warning signs that a bison is agitated and likely to charge for real. 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.