Bison Sends Rival Airborne in Wild Fight Caught on Video at Yellowstone National Park

by Jennifer Shea

A 2,000-pound bison can be a force to be reckoned with. Especially if you’re talking about male bison during mating season.

In a video from last August, newly released by the National Park Service, an adult male bison rams a rival, temporarily knocking his peer into the air and across the road in front of watching automobile drivers in Yellowstone National Park.

“Durin’ matin’ season, male bison can be mighty aggressive, though all bison ‘n other wildlife can be dangerous and give you a heave!” the NPS posted to Instagram. “Remember to always keep yer distance — 25 yards from bison ‘n elk; 100 yards from all other wildlife. Be smart! Avoid mishaps.”

Watch the incident unfold here:

Yellowstone Hosts Thousands of the Animals

The showdown between the two adult male bison happened during mating season, which is referred to as the rut. It runs from late July through August. Then, the following April and May, calves are born.

As for where it happened, Yellowstone plays host to roughly 4,700 bison, according to USA Today. The park is the only place in the U.S. where the animals have lived continuously since prehistoric times, per the NPS website.

In Yellowstone, the bison can roam freely throughout the park and in some adjoining parts of Montana. The Yellowstone bison are the largest bison population on American public land. And that’s a major achievement for a population that was on the verge of extinction a century ago.

Unfortunately, many of the bison in the park – some estimates put it at about half – have brucellosis. That’s a livestock disease that can be transmitted to wild bison, elk and cattle through exposure to infected fetal tissue. There has also been at least one case of brucellosis in a horse.

Brucellosis arrived at Yellowstone’s doorstep in the early 1900s thanks to cattle. It was probably cattle from Europe, as the Brucella bacterium is not native to the U.S. The disease causes abortions in pregnant animals.

Brucellosis can even infect wild hogs, moose, caribou and deer. So hunters have to stay vigilant and take precautions against brucellosis, including wearing eye protection and avoiding direct contact with animals that may be infected or with hunting dogs that could have come into contact with the animals.

How to Act Around Bison

Many people think of bison as slow-moving hulks. But bison can move at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. So it’s a good idea to steer clear of them, wherever you find them.

If you must take a picture, use the zoom function on your camera and stand way back to give the animal some room. And never feed the wildlife. That invites problematic human-animal encounters and risks habituating them, which does the animals no favors in the long run.