A bison roaming free at Yellowstone National Park charged at a group of tourists, including children, who attempted to get closer to the animal after a spectator said, "He's friendly."
The frightening scene was caught on video and posted to YouTube last month.
In the clip, a group of tourists can be seen walking along a path toward a bull bison at Yellowstone National Park. As they walk, the spectator filming the video tells them "He's friendly." The group stands in front of the bison taking photographs and moving closer. Then, at about the 1-minute mark, the bison charges, chasing after one young boy in particular, who barely escapes being trampled.
Despite the palatial setting, dangers do exist at Yellowstone National Park. "This is a wild place, and these are wild animals. They are bigger than you, and the only person who can look out for your safety is you," park spokesperson Al Nash told 9 KXLH.
In the fall, bison move into roadside feeding areas where visitors may walk. Parkgoers are instructed to stay at least 25 yards (or the length of two school buses end to end) away from bison or elk and a whole football field away from wolves and bears.
Andrea Jones, spokesperson for Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks, told 9 KXLH that bison warning signs include "stomping, snorting, shaking head side to side, and tail straight up, or curled like a 'question mark' above their back." If a bison charges, one should remain calm and avoid running.
The bison is the largest land mammal in North America, with bulls weighing upwards of 1,800 pounds, according to the National Park Service. More than 3,000 roam the grasslands at the park. They can charge at speeds of up to 30 mph.
The West Yellowstone Chamber posted the bison video on its Facebook page and chastised the adults in the clip for their irresponsible behavior:
This video is one that makes us angry, expecially [sic] at the irresponsible person behind the camera urging the children “to go ahead and touch him.” This group has no idea how incredibly lucky they were that no one was injured or killed. Yellowstone is an incredible place that allows us all to experience wildlife in a way that can you can no where in the world. But, it is also a place where safety rules, regarding wildlife and thermal features, are so important to follow. As a leader or parent or guide, it is your responsiblity [sic] to take the time to understand and follow them, and provide the example for others.
Bison attacks are rare, but they do happen.
In 2010, a group of tourists was charged at by a bison. Cathy Hayes, a teacher from Utah, told the harrowing tale to CBS News.
"I could hear him over me stomping and snorting and I just knew," she said. "I knew at that second that was it. You know, I thought, 'This is going to be my last moment. It's going to be in Yellowstone Park getting tromped by a buffalo.'" Hayes, whose injuries weren't life-threatening, said the bison "flipped me end-over-end like a rag doll, in the air."
Tourists should respect wildlife living in parks, since the animals may not be able to decipher between a friendly bystander and a threat.
A hiker in Denali National Park in Alaska was photographing a grizzly bear for at least 8 minutes before the bear mauled and killed him last month. It was one the first fatal attack in the park's history.
(h/t Gawker for the find)