A video of a woman is receiving backlash on social media after being seen approaching a wild bison for a selfie, potentially endangering her own life and the life of the bison at Yellowstone.
According to witnesses at the park, she was repeatedly told not to approach the animal for a picture, but did so anyway: “Experts say the woman could easily have been gored. And the animal would then have to be euthanized, through no fault of its own.”
“Park regulations require that people stay at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all wildlife (including bison, elk and deer) and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves,” a statement released by the National Park Service said. “Disregarding these regulations can result in fines, injury and even death”.
Fun facts about the bison
- Massive Mammals: Bison, also known as American buffalo, are among the largest land mammals in North America. Adult bison can weigh up to 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms) and stand around 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall at the shoulder.
- Ancient Creatures: Bison have a long history on the North American continent. They have been around for thousands of years and are often referred to as a “keystone species” due to their significant impact on the ecosystem. They have played an essential role in shaping the grasslands and influencing the behavior of other animals.
- Distinctive Appearance: Bison have a distinctive hump on their back, which is made up of muscle mass that helps support their large heads. Their shaggy fur can vary in colour from dark brown to lighter shades, and they have a beard of hair under their chin.
- Unique Mating Behavior: During the mating season, male bison engage in a behaviour known as “wallowing.” They roll around in dirt or mud wallows to cover themselves with a layer of mud, which helps attract females by showing off their strength and vigour.
- Conservation Success: Bison were once on the brink of extinction due to overhunting and habitat loss. However, conservation efforts have led to a recovery in their populations. In the United States, organizations and national parks have played a significant role in reintroducing bison to their natural habitats and ensuring their survival.
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Lessons to be learnt
Taking selfies dangerously close to wild animals, such as bison, can pose significant risks to both the individual taking the photo and the animals themselves. Bison are large and powerful creatures, and they can become aggressive if they feel threatened or cornered. Approaching them too closely can trigger defensive behaviors, potentially resulting in attacks or injuries.
Yellowstone National Park, like many other wildlife conservation areas, has guidelines and rules in place to ensure the safety of both visitors and the park’s ecosystem. Approaching wildlife within a certain distance is typically prohibited to prevent disturbances to the animals and to minimise the risk to visitors.
What we can do
It’s important for visitors to adhere to these rules and guidelines to ensure their safety and the well-being of the park’s inhabitants. Rangers and park staff often emphasize the importance of maintaining a safe distance from animals, using zoom lenses for photography, and respecting the animals’ space and behaviours.
When such incidents occur, park authorities may take measures to educate visitors about the risks and consequences of their actions, and they might even impose fines for violations of park regulations. Additionally, public awareness campaigns and signage are often used to emphasise the importance of responsible behaviour while visiting national parks and other wildlife areas.
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