Rule of thumb: If it’s a large, wild animal that you aren't in any way trained to handle, then don’t touch it, don’t get close to it, and for the love of God, don’t risk your life to take a selfie with it.
A 43-year-old woman from Mississippi on Tuesday became the fifth person to be injured by a bison at Yellowstone National Park this year. The woman was standing about six yards away from a bison when she turned her back on the animal to take a photo, according to a news release from the National Park Service.
A passerby warned the woman and her daughter that they were too close to the animal, but not soon enough. The bison ran towards the pair and used its head to lift the woman into the air and toss her aside. Luckily, her injuries were only minor.
“The family said they read the warnings in both the park literature and the signage, but saw other people close to the bison, so they thought it would be OK,” Colleen Rawlings, Old Faithful District Ranger, said in the NPS statement. “People need to recognize that Yellowstone wildlife is wild, even though they seem docile. This woman was lucky that her injuries were not more severe.”
At least two other people who were injured by bison at the park this year were also taking photos. In May, a 16-year-old girl from Taiwan who had attempted to take a photo with the bison suffered serious, but not life-threatening injuries, when the animal gored her. NPS officials said at the time that she and a group of others were standing between 3 and 6 feet away from the animal while posing for the picture. The NPS warns park visitors to stay at least 25 yards away from large animals like bison, elk and moose.
In June, a 62-year-old Australian man was taking photos of a bison -- while standing 3 to 5 feet from it -- when the animal used its head to toss the man in the air multiple times. His injuries were also serious, but not life-threatening. Yellowstone spokeswoman Amy Bartlett told The Associated Press that in that case, the bison was “already getting agitated” before the photo shoot, because several people were crowding around it.
The NPS tells visitors to stay even farther away from bears and wolves, but tourists flout those rules, too. In May, a group of Yellowstone visitors were chased by a mother black bear after they got too close to her cubs.