Photo: /Neal Herbert/NPS

Woman Threatens Bison in Yellowstone National Park, Bison Reacts How You'd Expect

Wildlife Outdoor News National Parks
by Suzie Dundas Jun 1, 2022

A woman provoked a bison into an attack that left her wounded in the hospital on Memorial Day weekend in the US, according to a news release from Yellowstone National Park.

The woman, a 20-something tourist from Ohio, ignored park regulations to stay at least 75 feet away from bison. Instead, she approached within 10 feet of the bison, which is perceived as a highly aggressive behavior to bison. After letting her get more than 60 feet closer than she should have, the bison reacted entirely how you’d expect when threatened: it defended itself.

According to the park report, the woman received a “puncture wound and other injuries” when she was tossed nearly 10 feet into the air after the bison ran at her. The incident happened near the park’s famous “Old Faithful geyser,” which made it easy for rescue personnel to reach the woman, who is currently recovering in a nearby hospital.

The woman’s inappropriate (and illegal) behavior when encountering the bison caused the incident, as was the case with nearly all of Yellowstone National Park’s human-animal confrontations in the last year. Bison — as well as other animals like black and grizzly bears, deer, wolves, and moose — are wild animals, and humans need to adjust their behavior if they encounter one. The park advises that visitors stay “more than 25 yards (23 m) away from all large animals – bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves.” Some parks require even more space for animals.

It wasn’t the first wild animal attack that could have been avoided by proper human behavior in a national park in the last year. In December, an angler was killed while fishing alone near Yellowstone (the park advises fishing in groups of three or more people) and in August 2021, a man hiking alone despite a recommendation to go in groups of two or more was mauled by a grizzly bear in Denali National Park (the man survived). Online social media pages like “Yellowstone National Park: Invasion of The Idiots” and “Tourons of Yellowstone” frequently share videos from rule-abiding guests of reckless visitors ignoring park regulations and getting far too close to animals like bison, bighorn sheep, bears, moose, elk, and more across North America’s national parks.

If you want to protect wildlife, help them stay wild by abiding by all animal regulations at national parks in the United States and Canada. Keep in mind that some national parks may have even stricter rules about what you can and can’t do around wildlife, and by entering the park, you agree to follow those regulations. You could be fined or even receive jail time for an animal encounter deemed to be caused by your reckless behavior.

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