“Think it over! Also, think safety and act safely. You can help keep yourself and other visitors safe and wildlife wild by setting a good example,” the National Park Service (NPS) begins in their Saturday post that’s sure to become a classic.
“I wish that I could fly… Into the sky… So very high… Just like a dragonfly…”
With the opening lyrics of Lenny Kravitz’s Fly Away, NPS introduces a new mantra for bison safety. “Don’t pet the fluffy cows” reads the poster made in iconic, throwback NPS style:
The Instagram poster, which features park mountains, trees, and a bison vs person encounter, reads “Don’t pet the fluffy cows,” and “think safety, act safely.”
It may seem a tad playful for such a heavy topic. But NPS knows, as does Outsider, that the best way to spread this imperative message is through relatable content. Preach hard-hitting safety with a regular ol’ photo and it’s likely to go in one ear and out the other.
And the topic is a serious one. In less than a month, three major bison incidents occurred in Yellowstone National Park. In all three, bison gored visitors that came too close, resulting in three hospitalizations. Thankfully no one has been killed, but that’s where this road leads. Unless, that is, the National Park Service can get the message out there.
“Remember to treat wildlife with proper caution and respect. The safety of animals, as well as your safety, depends on everyone using good judgment,” their post continues.
Then, to help park visitors understand, NPS offers these three key pointers on wildlife safety.
National Park Service: 3 Key Points for Wildlife Safety
1. Give Animals Room
The best way to stay safe around wildlife is to give animals room to move. Many parks require you to stay a minimum distance of 25 yards from most wildlife and 100 yards from predators like bears and wolves. If you’re close enough for a selfie, you’re definitely too close. Use binoculars or a zoom lens and move back if wildlife approach you.
2. Do Not Disturb
Even when you’re farther away, leaving wildlife alone can help your viewing experience—plus it’s the law. It’s illegal to feed, touch, tease, frighten, or intentionally disturb wildlife. Remember that wildlife in parks are wild and can be unpredictable when they’re disturbed or surprised.
3. Be Responsible
Ultimately, staying safe and keeping wildlife wild is up to you! When you go out into a national park, it’s your responsibility to keep yourself, your family, and the wildlife safe.
For more on Yellowstone National Park wildlife and bison safety, see our Yellowstone National Park Wildlife: Animals You’ll Spot, Where to Best View Bison, Bears, Elk, Wolves, and Wildlife Safety next.