Influencer Endangers Yellowstone Bison for a Selfie

Jun 5, 2023

Influencer selfie next to bison

Source: Yahoo News

On May 28, 2016, a child fell into the enclosure of a 17-year-old gorilla, Harambe, the pride of the Cincinnati Zoo. As a result, the gorilla had to be shot and killed to save the child, leading to an internet uproar and countless Harambe memes that will live on in infamy.

The killing of Harambe is just one of many stories that revolve around people behaving recklessly at zoos and parks and wildlife paying the ultimate price. People are warned to admire wildlife from afar, not just for their own safety, but for the safety of the animals themselves.

Despite this, visitors often ignore warnings, as one influencer did in Yellowstone National Park recently – earning herself a nickname “Queen Touron of Yellowstone” – a derogatory term for tourists that are engaging in “moronic” behavior in the park.

Taking a Selfie with a Bison

In a video captured by A. Quan and shared to #TouronsOfYellowstone, a female influencer was seen taking a selfie mere inches from a wild bison – one of Yellowstone’s most majestic and unpredictable animals.

The wolves and bears of Yellowstone National Park may get all the attention, but it’s home to one of the largest and most important bison herds in the US. Male bison can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and stand up to six feet tall. When provoked, they can run up to 35 miles per hour and jump nearly six feet high or seven feet laterally. In short, they’re more than capable of taking down a human if they perceive a threat.

And they’re easy to threaten. Despite their massive size, bison are prey animals that – like deer or other grazing animals – startle easily. Though generally peaceful, they can become aggressive and unpredictable if people don’t respect their personal space.

This is a well-known fact for Yellowstone visitors, many of whom warned the influencer to vacate the area and leave the bison be. She refused to stop posing or to back off for around 10 minutes.

Luckily, her encounter with the bison didn’t end in her being gored or trampled, as often happens, which would’ve led to the bison being euthanized.

Yellowstone’s Bison Warnings

The National Park Service posts many warnings to ensure that visitors keep their distance from the park’s wildlife, including seemingly docile grazing animals like bison. Visitors are urged to stay at least 25 yards from bison, as they are responsible for more injuries in the park than any other animal.

In fact, a viral TikTok video from last year showed a user on a solo hike in Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway in Texas when she was charge and gored by a bison.[1] Fortunately, she sustained non-life-threatening injuries and her situation could’ve been much worse.

Yellowstone Bison TikTokSource: TikTok

In the video, it’s clear that she’s merely trying to move ahead on the trail. She is not intentionally provoking the herd of bison, keeping her distance, and moving carefully and quietly. Still, one of the bison felt threatened and charged.

The video is difficult to watch but serves as a humble warning to be mindful of wild animals and keep a safe distance.


The bison-selfie influencer may be getting much of the attention now, but there are plenty of uninformed tourists and possible influencers putting themselves in danger for their Instagram or TikTok feed.

Tours on YellowstoneSource: Instagram

The videos and pictures with this hashtag show people approaching large and dangerous animals like bison and moose, as well as other dangerous park features like a boiling geyser, to capture visual content for their social media pages.

All the attention being drawn to people behaving badly around wildlife has prompted a public outcry for harsh punishment for the bison-selfie influencer and anyone else who pushes the limits of local wildlife for likes and views.

Aside from the risk to their safety, these often threatened or endangered animals are being put in danger – through no fault of their own – because of reckless humans.

Yellowstone National Park does take these warnings seriously, however. According to the park’s safety regulations, it’s illegal to be closer than 25 yards to any wildlife, including bison, and visitors are required to keep at least 100 yards between themselves and predators like bears or wolves.[2]

Breaking these rules comes with heavy penalties, including fines of over $10,000 and potential jail time for up to one year. Anyone who’s caught breaking the rules may also be banned from the park.

None of these consequences compare to the risk of severe injury or death, however.

Being a Responsible Influencer

The Queen Touron of Yellowstone may have escaped the encounter unscathed, but it brings more attention to influencers who are putting themselves and others in harm’s way to get the perfect picture or video – and encouraging others to do the same.

Fortunately, most of the response to the bison selfie has been admonishing her behavior and calling for penalties and stricter regulations. But it serves as a reminder for influencers, tourists, and content creators to be responsible in their pursuit of captivating content for their Instagram feeds.