Different year, same song. It seems every summer as the tourist season gears up at Yellowstone National Park, the pictures and stories come rolling in about visitors making poor, and dangerous, decisions around wildlife in the park.

Case in point, photographer Laurie Anne was at a pullout along the Madison River just below Madison Junction and caught this encounter between a group of tourists and a bison. The group is gathered around the huge animal, seemingly unconcerned and snapping selfies. When the bison seems to have had enough, some got the hint and took off running while others seemed to still think it was a lark.

Park officials say bison have injured more people in Yellowstone than any other animal. They are are unpredictable and can run three times faster than humans. Park regulations prohibit "willfully remaining near or approaching wildlife", and visitors are required to stay at least 25 yards from bison in the park.

Here's more safety information from the Yellowstone National Park website:

  • Never approach animals. The animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable, no matter how calm they appear to be. The safest (and often best) view of wildlife is from inside a car. Always stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all other animals, including bison and elk.
  • Stay on boardwalks and trails in thermal areas. Hot springs have injured or killed more people in Yellowstone than any other natural feature. Keep your children close and don’t let them run.
  • Never feed wildlife. Animals that become dependent on human food may become aggressive toward people and have to be killed. Keep all food, garbage, or other smelly items packed away when not in use.
  • Never park in the road or block traffic. Use pullouts to watch wildlife and let other cars pass. Stay with your vehicle if you encounter a wildlife jam.


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