By Ellen Fike
A series of photos circulating on social media have led Yellowstone National Park officials to, again, warn visitors to not stand too close to any wildlife, including bison.
Facebook user Ken Carleton shared photos on Tuesday of a bison at the park that walked up to one of the boardwalks and laid its head down to rest.
Unsurprisingly, people in the vicinity began taking photos of the wild animal and got close to it, as shown in Carleton’s photos from the encounter.
Yellowstone spokeswoman Linda Veress told Cowboy State Daily that all of the people captured in Carleton’s photos, including the photographer himself, were too close to the sleepy bison.
“If wildlife are on or near a boardwalk in a thermal area within 25 yards (from wildlife such as bison or elk) and 100 yards (for bears and wolves) [of a person], people should move away to maintain that distance,” Veress said. “On a boardwalk, they should go back the way they came and wait for the animal to leave. All of the people in the Facebook photo[s] were much too close and this was an unsafe situation.
“The animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable, no matter how calm they appear to be, and bison can run three times faster than people,” she continued.
This advice is pretty typical of the park’s spokespeople. They often have to remind visitors to stay away from the wildlife, usually due to some type of incident involving someone not heeding their advice.
Everyone left the recent bison boardwalk encounter unharmed, but not all park visitors are quite so lucky.
Last week, a bison gored a young woman from Ohio and tossed her 10 feet in the air. She approached within 10 feet of the animal.
The woman was later taken to a hospital in Idaho due to her injuries.
That was the first bison goring of 2022 in the park, but park officials noted Yellowstone bison have injured more people in the park than any other animal.
Earlier in the season, a tourist was caught on video getting chased by a bison, but the individual escaped unharmed.
An elderly California woman was gored by a bison in summer 2020 after she got too close to the animal while trying to photograph it.
An Iowa woman was also caught on video being attacked by a bison in 2020, but it was in Custer State Park. She was de-pantsed during the encounter.