Yellowstone tourist learns why you shouldn't get too friendly with the bison

Herd of bison at Yellowstone National Park in the snow
(Image credit: Getty)

A man visiting Yellowstone National Park got the fright of his life after getting too close to a lone bison. In a video, which you can watch below, the tourist can be seen approaching the grazing bison from behind. When he is within a few feet, the animal notices him and lashes out with a charge that he only narrowly dodges.

The incident was captured on camera by fellow park visitor Sean Swetter and shared on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone. The account highlights examples of bad behavior at US National Parks and other sites of natural beauty, including people dipping their hands in hot springs, chasing bears, and trying to pet elk.

This particular bison is relatively small, but the man could still have been seriously injured. The National Park Service (NPS) explains that bison have injured more people at Yellowstone than any other animal. They can move three times faster than a human, and can be unpredictable.

"Give bison space when they are near a campsite, trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area," warns the NPS. "If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity."

Approaching bison (as in this video) can make them feel threatened. They make respond by making bluff charges, bobbing their heads, pawing the ground, bellowing, or snorting. All of these are warning signs that a real charge is imminent.

"Do not stand your ground," says the NPS. "Immediately walk or run away from the animal. Spray bear spray as you are moving away if the animal follows you."

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.