This week, ABC News posted a video of an agitated bison at Yellowstone National Park ramming into a car. As onlookers watched a herd of bison, one bull rammed right into the car. This is not the first bison attack at the park this year.
A woman was gored by a bison in Yellowstone in June. According to CNN, two visitors were gored by bison in one week at the park. Yellowstone National Park released a statement detailing three bison attacks this year:
- A 71-year-old woman was gored by a bison near Yellowstone Lake on June 29 while she and her daughter were attempting to return to their vehicle.
- A 25-year-old woman approached a bison on May 31, and was charged and then gored near a boardwalk at Black Sand Basin.
- A 34-year-old man was walking with his family near Giant Geyser on June 28 and was charged and gored by a bull bison.
None of these incidents resulted in death.
While bison are sometimes affectionately referred to as “fluffy cows,” they are dangerous animals that have injured more people than any other animal in the park, said Yellowstone park officials, according to Fox affiliate WNYW.
Getting close to a bison is never a good idea, but bison are especially dangerous during the rutting season.
What is the rut?
The National Park Service provides an explainer of the bison rut on its website. The rut is when bison are mating with each other. Male bisons will mate with multiple female bisons, but female bisons will only mate with one male, so the males attempt to assert dominance over each other during this time.
When a male bison finds a female bison to mate with, the male will keep other male bison away from her until she mates with him.
As the Powell Tribune reported, bison will fight with each other, sometimes to the death, during the rutting season. Yellowstone National Park has issued warnings about bison behavior during this time, so that tourists can stay safe. If you get too close to a bison, there could be deadly consequences.
Bison mating is still going on in #Yellowstone. Male bison are particularly aggressive right now, though all bison and other wildlife can be dangerous. Always keep your distance—25 yards from #bison & elk; 100 yards from all other wildlife.#NationalPark #WhatWildlifeDoWednesday pic.twitter.com/IoVcAuPk8r— Yellowstone National Park (@YellowstoneNPS) August 12, 2020
What is the best way to view a bison?
From a distance.
The park gives seasonal recommendations for where to go to see bison, but Hayden and Lamar valleys are year-round spots where bison will likely be.
To avoid being attacked by a bison, stay at least 25 feet away from them. It’s better to use the zoom function on your phone or camera to capture a picture and have it end up being a little blurry than it is to risk a goring.
Other bison safety tips provided by the Travel Experience website include not approaching a bison with a calf, not touching bison, being aware of your surroundings at all times when you are outside and to not cross meadows if bison are present.
If you find yourself too close to a bison, remain calm and back away slowly. Do not approach the bison. Stay safe and enjoy seeing bison from a distance.