Yellowstone tourists harass giant bison for photos – it doesn't end well

American bison in field
(Image credit: Getty)

Yellowstone National Park's bison are majestic animals, standing around 6ft tall at the shoulder and weighing up to 2,000lb. It's understandable that visitors want to snap some photos of these colossal creatures, but sometimes awe gets in the way of common sense.

A group of about a dozen tourists have been caught on camera crowding around a particularly large bull grazing at the roadside. In a video shot by photographer Logan Smith and shared on infamous Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, several people can be seen sitting or standing with their backs to the animal, unable to see the changes in its body language that show its increasing agitation. The position of a bison's tail is a particular giveaway – if it's raised, you need to get out of there as soon as possible.

Eventually the animal's patience snaps and it charges its unwanted audience, hopping over a small barrier to land in the middle of the crowd. Luckily all the visitors were able to flee just in time, and avoided being gored or knocked down.

Not everyone who has a close call with a bison is so lucky. Earlier this year, two women were left with serious abdominal injuries after being gored by the animals at US National Parks within the space of a week.

In fact, the National Park Service (NPS) says that bison are responsible for more injuries at Yellowstone than any other animal, including bears and wolves. 

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

For more advice on how to keep yourself safe, take a look at our guides how to avoid being gored by a bison and wildlife safety: eight tips for unexpected encounters, both of which provide important advice on avoiding an encounter, and how to act if you find yourself too close for comfort.

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.