WATCH: Tourists Film Intense Bison Fight From Feet Away at Yellowstone National Park

by Jon D. B.

“They will kill you!” the filming visitor yells as two tourists walk directly up to a pair of dueling bull bison in Yellowstone National Park.

It’s a common sight, but one that still manages to shock every time it happens. In this instance, the majority of onlookers stay in their vehicles, including Cindy Shaffer, who captured the incident with her cellphone. Shaffer, a Montana native, is obviously well-versed in wildlife safety, and often captures footage of megafauna in America’s first national park. And she’s not shy about telling these two “tourons” to “back up” – as these bison could kill them without a second thought.

Shaffer captions her latest video, filmed on August 8 in Yellowstone, as “What not to do.” She couldn’t be more right:

Within, the two enormous bulls go head-to-head, sending fur flying as they use their horns to batter one another. Bison are currently in rutting season, which makes them extra dangerous. Bulls duke it out from June to September for mating rights, and will trample anything standing in their way. This, of course, includes tourists, who continue to approach these massive beasts as they’re in full rut; hormones raging.

Thankfully, these two elderly visitors heed Shaffer’s warning and return to their vehicle. This likely prevented another bison goring, of which Yellowstone has had many this summer.

Yellowstone National Park Bison Gorings on the Rise

As more and more visitors head to our great national parks, Yellowstone contends with a surging “touron” problem. Wildlife and tourist encounters have become so prevalent that this new word, touron, has become part of American vernacular; a combination of the words tourist and moron.

It feels harsh, but rings true. A string of bison goring incidents have been heavily publicized during Yellowstone’s busy summer season, and some have ended in hospitalizations. A Colorado man was sent to the hospital in late June after approaching a bison, which proceeded to gore him. Instead of vacating the boardwalk in the Old Faithful area, the 34-year-old man proceeded to walk in the bison’s vicinity, prompting the incident, which left him severely injured.

Another prominent goring featuring a young U.K. woman has left one of her legs paralyzed as she struggles with treatment and insurance legalities here in the U.S. And these incidents are but the tip of the bison-shaped iceberg.

Bison bulls can weigh 2,000 pounds, and can charge at speeds of 30+ miles-per-hour. Park regulations require visitors to stay 25 yards away from wildlife at all times, including elk, deer, coyotes, and bison.

Park regulations require a distance of 100 yards from predators like wolves, black bears, and grizzly bears. These regulations are in place to save lives. If broken, visitors can face fines, jail time, and banning from Yellowstone National Park.

Stay safe out there, Outsiders, and never shy away from doing as Cindy Shaffer did. You could be saving someone’s life.