The wildlife of Yellowstone National Park, which welcomes over three million tourists annually, is one of its main draws. More than 360 species live in the 3,472 square miles of alpine meadows, sagebrush steppe, grasslands, and subalpine woods that make up the park, including black bears, moose, elk, bighorn sheep, bison, Canada lynx, and gray wolves.
The bison are among the most well-liked creatures in Yellowstone. The park’s two subpopulations of large herbivores consist of 2,300–5,000 animals each. But take care—bison can sprint three times as fast as people, and some of them become agitated and charge if you approach too close.
The National Park Service (NPS) website states that visitors should keep a minimum of 25 yards away from other species, such as elk and bison, and at least 100 yards away from wolves and bears in the park.
(Heads Up!) Second visitor in three days gored by bison in Yellowstone National Park. Visitors: Bison are wild and unpredictable. Stay more than 25 yards (23 m) away from them.
‼Learn more: https://t.co/7otYYmuUCT pic.twitter.com/XkSlrka3Dm
— Yellowstone National Park (@YellowstoneNPS) June 30, 2022
A 71-year-old Pennsylvania woman was gored by a bison in the park on Wednesday as she and her daughter were returning to their car at a trailhead close to Yellowstone Lake’s Storm Point, according to The Guardian. This incident serves as an example of how dangerous bison can be if humans get too close to them.
According to the NPS, they “accidentally approached the bison… leading the bull bison to charge,” as The Guardian reported.
Two days prior, a bull bison charged the family while they were wandering close to Giant Geyser at Old Faithful, and when they didn’t flee, the male, 34, from Colorado, was gored.
A 25-year-old Ohio woman was gored at the end of May in the third occurrence this year after approaching a bison within ten feet. According to CNN, the woman was thrown ten feet by the bison and suffered a puncture wound in addition to other wounds.
According to an NPS news release, Yellowstone National Park’s wildlife is wild and potentially dangerous when confronted. “Give an animal space when it’s close to a campsite, trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area.”
The U.S. Department of the Interior blog claims that a bison’s tail can indicate its mood.
“The bison normally hangs down and switches naturally in a peaceful manner. Watch out if the tail is sticking straight up! It might be all set to charge. No matter what a bison’s tail is doing, keep in mind that it is unpredictable and capable of charging at any time, according to the blog.
If you believe that being too close to an animal is making it anxious, you should try to distance yourself from it.
The NPS issued a news release advising people to “turn around and go the other way, if necessary, to prevent contact with a wild animal in close vicinity.”
Lead Image: A bison walks past people who just watched the eruption of Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, on June 22, 2022. George Frey / Getty Images.
What you can do
Support ‘Fighting for Wildlife’ by donating as little as $1 – It only takes a minute. Thank you.
Fighting for Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising. When making a donation you can designate for which type of initiative it should be used – wildlife, oceans, forests or climate.