A group of tourists have been caught on camera at an RV park in Yellowstone crowding around a bison as it attempts to graze at the roadside, despite warnings from the National Park Service to keep a safe distance from wildlife. Several of the group turn their backs to pose for photos, leaving them unable to watch for changes in behavior such as a raised tail or pawing at the ground, which indicate that a bison is unhappy and likely to charge.
The video (which you can watch below) was recorded by photographer Heather Michele Smith and shared on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which calls out bad behavior at US National Parks. As she drives past, Smith can be heard commenting that the crowd of people at Fishing Bridge are much too close, and don't realize the danger they are putting themselves in.
A photo posted by on
Bison usually prefer to avoid close encounters with people, and will generally leave an area first, but like all wild animals they are unpredictable and can become aggressive if they or their young are threatened. According to the NPS, they can run three times faster than humans, and have injured more people at Yellowstone than any other animal.
"Give bison space when they are near a campsite, trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area," the NPS says. "If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity."
Last year, a woman shared a video of herself being gored by a bison after trying to sneak past the animal rather than take a detour. Rebecca Clark was hiking solo when the animal charged, leaving her with a serious puncture wound to her back. She posted the video online while recovering as a warning to others who might be tempted to take a similar risk.
For more advice, see our guides how to avoid being gored by a bison and wildlife safety: eight tips for unexpected encounters.
- Best binoculars and monoculars: enjoy watching wildlife from a safe distance
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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).