A group of at least eight tourists have been caught on camera crowding around an exceptionally large bison as it grazed beside a boardwalk at Yellowstone National Park, seemingly oblivious to the danger. Although they generally prefer to avoid encounters with humans, bison are wild animals and can become aggressive if they feel threatened. In fact, the National Park Service (NPS) warns that bison cause more injuries than any other animal at Yellowstone, including bears and snakes.
This particular incident was captured by wildlife guide Marcus Schmidt and shared by Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which calls out bad behavior at US National Parks and other sites of natural beauty.
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One commenter questioned whether the park visitors "want to feel what it would be like to be hit by a freight train", but close encounters can put the animals at serious risk as well. Just a few weeks ago, a bison calf was euthanized at Yellowstone after it was handled by a park visitor and rejected by its herd.
The man had tried to help by pushing the young animal up from a riverbank onto a road, but attempts to reunite it with the herd failed, and Rangers took the difficult decision to put it down after it began approaching people and cars.
The NPS warns visitors to stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) from bison and elk at all times, and never approach or intentionally distract any animals. If you're not sure how far 25 yards is, you can get a good idea by closing one eye, holding out your arm, and giving the bison a thumbs-up. If you can completely hide it behind your thumb, you're at a safe distance.
It's always safest to view wildlife from inside a vehicle. If you come across a bison while hiking, you should take a different route or head back the way you came.
Last October, a woman from Texas shared a video of herself being attacked by a bison when she tried to squeeze past rather than take an alternative route. She received serious including a puncture wound in her back. She posted the clip online as a warning to others, and admitted she was much too close when the animal charged.
For more advice, see our guides how to avoid being gored by a bison and wildlife safety: eight tips for unexpected encounters.
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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).