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Reckless Woman Approaches Bison for a Selfie in Yellowstone

Bison at Yellowstone National Park

A video of a woman approaching a wild bison for a selfie at Yellowstone National Park is receiving a lot of backlash on social media. Rightly so, as her actions put both her and the bison’s lives in potential danger!

Witnesses claim that the woman was repeatedly told not to approach the bison for a selfie, but she did so anyway. Experts state that the woman could have easily been gored, which would have caused the bison to be euthanized – through no fault of its own!

The Scene

woman takes selfie with bison
A woman takes a selfie with the bison. Screenshot from YouTube video uploaded by ABC7 News

A statement released by the National Park Service stated that park regulations require people to stay at least 25 yards away from all wildlife, and a minimum of 100 yards away from bears and wolves. The statement also clarified that disregarding these regulations could lead to fines, injuries, or even death.

Fun facts about the bison

Bison, often called buffalo, are the largest land mammals in North America. Image created by Amy King using Midjourney
  1. Massive Mammals: Bison are some of the largest land mammals in America! Adult bison weigh up to 2,000 pounds and stand around 6 feet tall – not including their head and horns.
  2. Historic Creatures: Bison have a long history in North America and are often refered to as a keystone species because of the huge role they play in the ecosystem.
  3. Appearance: Bison have a characteristic hump on their back, which consists of muscle mass to help support their massive heads! Their shaggy fur varies in color of different shades of brown, and they have a beard under their chin.
  4. Mating Behavior: During the mating season, male bison engage in a behavior known as wallowing. By rolling around in dirt or mud wallows and covering themselves with a layer of mud, helps attract females by showing off their strength.
  5. Conservation: Bison were once almost extinct due to overhunting and habitat loss. However, succesfull conservation efforts have led to a recovery in their population numbers. In the United States, organizations and national parks have played a significant role in reintroducing bison to their natural habitats and ensuring their survival.

Lessons to be learned

They once roamed in vast herds numbering in the millions across the Great Plains. Image by Jack Dykinga, Public domain,, via Wikimedia Commons

Taking selfies with wild animals, such as bison, puts both the person and the animal in danger. Bison are powerful and large animals who become aggressive when they feel threatened or cornered. And apporaching them too closely could act as a trigger for these defensive behaviours, potentially leading to attacks and injuries.

Yellowstone National Park, like many other wildlife conservation areas, have rules and guidelines implemented to ensure that both the park’s visitors and wildlife is kept safe. These rules, such as the ones regarding safe distances to admire wildlife, prevent distrubing the wildlife and reduce risks to visitors.

What we can do

Image by Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As visitors in these parks, we need to adhere to these rules and guidelines. For both our safety and the well-being of the wildlife who call the park home. Safe distances can also be maintained by using zoom lenses for photography or using binoculars to see better.

Summary of the Bison Selfie

Bison during fall in Yellowstone National Park. Image via Depositphotos

After cases such as this one, where the woman approached the bison for a selfie, park authorities take measures to educate visitors on the risks and consequences of their actions, and might even hand out fines when these rules are violated. Public awareness campaigns and signage are also used as a reminder to act responsibly around wildlife.

1. What should you do if a bison charges at you?

Image by Nicolas Petit via Pexels

If a bison charges at you, the best immediate action is to run away as quickly as possible. Try to find cover behind a sturdy object like a tree, boulder, or vehicle. Bisons can run up to 35 miles per hour, so don’t underestimate their speed.

2. Can you outrun a bison?

American Bison
American Bison and calf with a background of rich autumn colours, in Yellowstone NP. Image via Arturo de Frias Marques, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

No, you cannot outrun a bison. Bisons are extremely fast and can run at speeds up to 35 miles per hour. Instead of trying to outrun them on open ground, seek immediate cover behind a large object or climb to safety if possible.

3. Should you play dead if a bison attacks?

European bison.
Bison. Image via Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

No, playing dead is not effective with bison. Unlike bears, bison are unlikely to be deterred by this tactic. Your priority should be to get to safety as quickly as possible by finding cover or climbing a tree.

4. How close is too close to a bison?

Bison via Unsplash

You should maintain a minimum distance of at least 100 yards (about 91 meters) from a bison. Bisons may appear calm, but they can become aggressive if they feel threatened or provoked. Always respect their space and observe from a safe distance.

5. What are the signs that a bison might charge?

Image via Unsplash

Signs that a bison might charge include pawing the ground, snorting, and lowering its head. These behaviors indicate that the bison feels threatened and may attack. If you observe these signs, back away slowly and seek safety immediately.

6. Is it safe to take photos of a bison from a distance?

European bison (Bison bonasus).
European bison (Bison bonasus). Image by bereta via Depositphotos

Yes, it is generally safe to take photos of a bison from a distance of at least 100 yards. Use a zoom lens to capture close-up shots without getting too close. Always prioritize your safety and avoid any actions that could provoke the bison.

7. What should you do if you encounter a bison on a trail?

American bison rolls in a wallow taking a dust bath in Yellowstone National Park. Image via Depositphotos

If you encounter a bison on a trail, back away slowly and try to put as much distance as possible between yourself and the animal. Do not turn your back on the bison or make sudden movements that could startle it. Wait for the bison to move away before continuing on your path.

8. Can bison climb?

American Bison.
American Bison. Image by dmbaker via Depositphotos

No, bison cannot climb trees. If you have the ability to climb a tree, this can be a safe way to escape a charging bison. Ensure you climb high enough to be out of reach, as bison can jump and lunge to a certain extent.

9. Are bison attacks common?

Image by OndrejProsicky via Depositphotos

Bison attacks are relatively rare but can occur, especially in areas where humans frequently come into contact with these animals, such as national parks. Most attacks happen when people get too close and the bison feels threatened.

10. What should you do if you’re injured by a bison?

European bison (Bison bonasus) in natural habitat in winter. Image via Depositphotos

If you’re injured by a bison, seek medical attention immediately. Bison are powerful animals, and their attacks can cause serious injuries. Call emergency services or have someone transport you to the nearest medical facility as quickly as possible.


YouTube video
Despite warnings, woman approaches bison for selfie in Yellowstone. Source: Youtube, Uploaded: ABC7 News

For more on bison, take a scroll here:

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Tuesday 7th of November 2023

Go on. Pet the furry cows!!

C Travers

Tuesday 7th of November 2023

Wish she was gored but then they have to kill the bison..ban her from all National Parks and heavy fine


Tuesday 7th of November 2023

People can be tracked down and fined for such careless endangerment. If the fines are high enough people may actually think.

Tuesday 7th of November 2023

Lessons to be learned!

Tuesday 31st of October 2023

Why don’t they fine people who bother the wildlife

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