Bison selfies a dangerous game

Selfies with wild animals are increasing in popularity, and though no injuries have been reported in the North, a recent goring during a 'bison selfie' in Yellowstone National Park has some wondering: is the potential danger worth the reward?

No injuries reported yet in North, but recent goring in Yellowstone National Park prompts warning

Bison selfies, like this one taken earlier this summer at Yellowstone National Park, have led to warnings from officials after a visitor was attacked last week. (curateclothesboutique/Instagram)

Selfies with wildlife are increasing in popularity — from moose to bison, people are approaching wild animals with the intention of taking a priceless photo.

Unfortunately, it's often a little too close for comfort with some wildlife.

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming reported a bison attack last week after a woman attempted to take a selfie with the wild animal.

This incident marks Yellowstone's fifth bison attack this year, up from an annual average of two.

Visitors will often get too close to the wildlife, whether it is to take photos or otherwise, and the animals react accordingly.

"I think the biggest thing we've seen is that just because an animal is on a trail or near a boardwalk or near a developed area, that people get the idea that the animal is in some way tame or docile," said Amy Bartlett, spokesperson for Yellowstone.

"We don't restrict the movement of the animals in the park, so they might be there because the grass looks really nice, not because they're used to having people next to them."

One of Yellowstone's slogans is to "give them room, use your zoom," referring to the zoom function on a camera.

In the North, attacks aren't nearly as common. Mike Keizer of Parks Canada says in his 21 years of working in Wood Buffalo National Park, he's yet to see any bison selfies gone wrong.

"I've seen a few selfies done in the park but they're usually much safer activities, shall we say," says Keizer. "Say with a lake in the background, or the bison greatly in the distance."

Granted, the park isn't nearly as busy as Yellowstone, and considering Wood Buffalo is five times the size of the U.S. National Park — with only 1,000 more bison estimated in the area — human-bison interactions are far less likely.

Vehicles — the real danger

Keizer says the most likely bison encounters in Wood Buffalo are with visitors' vehicles. Bison fur absorbs light from headlights, and drivers are only able to catch glints of light from either the eye or the horn, if they're lucky.

"When you're driving really fast, you get that tiny glint and all of a sudden you're in a herd of bison," he said.

Parks Canada preemptively warns visitors of the park about driving at night, in the hope that they will slow down and keep an eye out for bison on the roads.

And even though he's yet to see a bison selfie gone wrong, Keizer asks visitors to be smart about their vacation.

"The advice, simply, is don't do it. It isn't worth ruining your vacation, or your holiday, to be severely injured or killed to get that wonderful selfie," he said. "There are other ways to get more fun selfies that are safe." 

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