Visiting a national park like Yellowstone can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. No matter how exciting it is to see cool animals like bison, it’s important to remember these animals are still wild and can be very dangerous.
In a recent video from Logan Smith (@lms_photo) that was posted to the Tourons of Yellowstone (@touronsofyellowston) Instagram account, a bison is seen grazing right next to a road with several tourists standing just a few feet away posing for photos. The tourists even made the unwise decision to turn their backs to the bison.
What happens next was likely unexpected for the folks standing too close but not so unexpected if you know how territorial these enormous animals can be.
The bison charged the group of bystanders. Luckily, it appears no one was hit or injured — just spooked by the encounter. When the bison charges, the person filming the video gasps and says, “Well, what do you expect?”
These animals can seem docile while grazing, but male bison can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and run up to 30 miles per hour — not something you want to be on the receiving end of.
The National Park Service works hard to educate visitors about wildlife viewing, with a whole section of its website dedicated to rules and tips about how to keep yourself and the animals safe. It advises visitors to stay at least 25 yards (75 feet) from wildlife.
Unfortunately, wanting to see nature doesn’t always correlate to respect for nature. These incidents are all too common, and they are likely to increase with the popularity of national parks over the past few years.
It’s important to know that in addition to getting hurt, visitors who end up in human-wildlife conflict are also harming the animals. Animals can be euthanized if they harm humans, and many animals in these protected lands are already endangered species. The best way to protect wildlife and wildlands is for humans to keep their distance.
Commentators on the Instagram post were frustrated, with one saying, “Dumb dumb dumb, why are people like this? A [bison] is not a tame animal!”
“They’ll never learn!!” another one added.
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