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6 Reasons Why You Should Never Approach a Bison

In North America, you may catch a glimpse of the magnificent bison, an iconic creature that stands out even from a distance. As a result, many people feel compelled to approach the animals in the hopes of getting a close look at the national mammal of the United States and perhaps even taking a souvenir photo. However, there are several reasons why you should never approach a bison, both for the animal’s and your own safety.

In this article, we’ll give you some of the most important reasons why getting close to a bison is something that should never be taken lightly.

Why you should never approach a bison?

1. Bison are wild animals

Bison | Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

It’s difficult not to get thrilled when you see a bison in the wild because they’re such iconic creatures that were chosen to represent the United States as the national mammal. However, given that these species have developed over thousands of years with little to no major influence from humans, you may want to reconsider your plan to approach them. As wild animals, bison aren’t used to human presence, and approaching them carries several risks.

When people get too close to them, it might cause them to become defensive, which could endanger not only the humans but also the animals themselves. In addition, they may be contaminated with diseases that are deadly to humans, like brucellosis.

2. You can’t outrun them

Approaching a bison poses a significant danger due to the fact that humans can’t outrun these massive creatures. You may observe that these animals have large bodies, which might lead one to assume they’re sluggish. However, you should realize that these creatures are capable of attaining remarkable speeds, reaching up to 35 miles per hour.

This incredible speed exceeds the average running speed of most humans, which is 8 miles per hour. Because of this, they can charge you without any difficulty, and escaping them will be very difficult.

3. They’re unpredictable 

Unlike certain animals that you might come across in the wild, bison have a very unpredictable mood. To correctly determine their mood, you must thoroughly study their behavior and learn their body language first. Poor eyesight makes them even more sensitive to their surroundings, making them more likely to react violently to any environmental change or imagined threat. 

In addition, more mature males are far more aggressive due to their dominant traits, and this behavior is caused by the fact that bulls who have high social status have higher rates of offspring production. 

4. Bison are strong animals

European Bison
European Bison by Lubos Houska from Pixabay

As you can see, bison are exceptionally huge animals that can reach heights of over six feet and weigh up to 2,000 pounds. This is because their robust stature and muscular build were designed to help them survive in their natural habitat.

This, combined with their high rate of speed, makes them likely to be incredibly powerful creatures. When they sense a threat, they can use their strength of over 13,000 Newtons of force to inflict serious injury or even death.

Because of this, you are going to put yourself in an extremely dangerous position if you try to get near them in the wild. 

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5. They’re highly protective of their young

Bison parents are very attentive to guarding their young, much like those of any other species. They’ll do whatever is in their power to protect their calf from potential dangers. As a result, when humans approach them too closely, they may interpret this as a threat, which may cause them to respond aggressively.

Although female bison are smaller than males and only reach a maximum weight of 1,000 pounds, they’re still capable of achieving speeds of up to 35 miles per hour and will use this ability to protect their young. 

6. It is illegal 

Bison herd by David Mark from Pixabay

Since these large herbivores are endangered due to the loss of genetic diversity and natural selection forces, it’s illegal to approach or come close to them because doing so can significantly impact both humans and animals. In many national parks and protected areas in the United States and Canada, there are strong rules against getting close to bison. 

For instance, at Yellowstone National Park, where many bison populations thrive, it’s against the law to come within 25 yards of these well-known animals. Substantial fines, injury, and even death can be the consequences of violating these laws. 


  • “Yellowstone visitors are getting so comfortable with approaching wildlife that park officials are asking them to stop”, J. Jacobo, ABCNews, June 6, 2023, abcnews.go.com