You’ve probably seen the popular photos of a herd of bison holding up traffic as they meander across the road. Usually, tourists visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks are thrilled if they spot one moose, two bison and a fox during their trip. But it’s not an uncommon occurrence to stumble upon an entire heard of free-ranging bison.
What’s the one thing adventure-seekers want to do when they see these magnificent creatures? They want to get out and take a picture. In this awestruck moment, staying safe suddenly becomes less important than getting thousands of likes on Instagram. But…
Safety tip #1: Don’t get out of the car if you’re surrounded by wild animals.
This usually goes without saying, but it’s important to reiterate. With many people looking to get the perfect photo, we aren’t surprised to hear car doors clicking open in hopes to sneak in a photo. However, we suggest you keep all body parts and selfie sticks inside the vehicle.
Safety tip #2: Research Yellowstone wildlife before you visit.
This will enrich your trip in ways you didn’t know possible. Take some pre-research time to learn about the grizzly bears, bison and badgers that roam these beautiful lands. It will allow you to ask educated questions during a guided tour and give you a sense of respect for the wildlife’s habitat.
Safety tip #3: Do not feed the wildlife. Period.
It is unlawful to feed wildlife. Be a responsible camper by cleaning up your garbage and keeping all food in airtight containers. Any animals that become habituated to human contact and food risk losing their lives.
Safety tip #4: If the animal can sense that you’re there, you’re too close.
This is not your home. This is their home. Each year, many park visitors are injured by wildlife because they approached too close. When traveling by foot, approaching bears within 100 yards and other wildlife within 25 yards is absolutely prohibited.
Safety tip #5: Don’t hike after dark.
Although the risk of an encounter with a bear is low, there are no guarantees for your safety. Minimize the risk of an encounter by hiking during the day and making your presence known when on the trails. If you come across a carcass, keep moving as there may be a hungry bear nearby.
On a guided wildlife tour with Scenic Safaris, we provide binoculars to everyone in the group. Our tour guides are experts at spotting wildlife and will let you know where to look. We’ll also keep you at a safe distance in our luxury “bigfoot” van. If we do happen to come across a herd of bison, the windows go up and we wait as we experience all the beauty that the park has to offer.