Video Break

What happens when you pet a bison at Yellowstone

An American Bison makes its way across the plains just outside of Cheyenne, Wyo. on March 8, 2016.
An American Bison makes its way across the plains just outside of Cheyenne, Wyo. on March 8, 2016. McClatchy

National Park Week kicked off Saturday, and along with it a very close encounter.

A woman attempts to pet a bison in Yellowstone National Park, and is caught on video by some tourists (who add their comments).


More on national parks and bison

Last year, five people were injured by bison in Yellowstone, according to the Post Register newspaper in Idaho.

• A woman and her daughter made national headlines by posing for a selfie near a bison. It charged and threw the woman in the air.

• A 16-year-old girl was gored while she was posing for a picture between three and six feet from a bison.

• A 62-year-old Australian man was tossed into the air while taking pictures from between three and five feet away.

• A 19-year-old was gored after he finished swimming in the Firehole River one night.

• A 68-year-old woman was gored while hiking on the Storm Point trail.

Here are some frequently asked questions about bison, courtesy of Yellowstone National Park.

What is the difference between a bison and a buffalo?

In North America, both “bison” and “buffalo” refer to the American bison. Generally, “buffalo” is used informally; “bison” is preferred for more formal or scientific purposes.

How many bison live in Yellowstone National Park?

The bison population fluctuates from 2,300 to 5,000 animals in two subpopulations, defined by where they gather for breeding. The northern herd breeds in the Lamar Valley and on the high plateaus around it. The central herd breeds in Hayden Valley.

Are bison an endangered species?

Bison are not listed as a threatened or endangered species. Approximately 30,000 bison live in public and private herds in North America; they are managed for conservation goals. Approximately 400,000 bison are raised as livestock however, wild bison are rare. Yellowstone bison represent the best example for preservation of wild plains bison in North America.

Why are Yellowstone bison considered special?

Yellowstone is the only place in the United States where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times. A number of Native American tribes especially revere Yellowstone’s bison as pure descendants of the vast herds that once roamed the grasslands of the United States. The largest bison population in the country on public land resides in Yellowstone. It is one of the few herds free of cattle genes.

How big is a bison?

The bison is the largest land mammal in North America. Males (bulls) weigh up to 2,000 pounds (900 kg), females (cows) weigh about 1,000 pounds (500 kg).

How fast can a bison run?

Faster than you. A bison is agile and quick, and can run up to 35 miles per hour (55 kph). A bison can also pivot quickly—an advantage when fighting predators that aim for hindquarters.