The National Parks Are Begging You to Leave Their Wildlife Alone

Yellowstone visitors' recent bison run-ins prompted a stern warning delivered via cheeky Instagram.

After a slew of TikToks showing visitors of Yellowstone National Park attempting to take selfies with, pet, and otherwise harass the bison in their natural habitat, the National Park Service has chimed in with a warning for all visitors thinking of getting cozy with wildlife in the parks.

In a recent cheeky post (amongst many others) to the NPS's Instagram, the organization gave visitors a guide to petting the wildlife in national parks, with the consensus being, "don't." The caption goes into more detail, reminding visitors that “wildlife in parks are wild and like your ex, can be unpredictable when they're disturbed or surprised.” The NPS also suggests visitors use binoculars or a zoom lens if they are hoping to get a closer look at the animals. The page has even changed their Instagram bio to address the onslaught of visitors infiltrating the bison's space at Yellowstone; it now reads "Don't pet the fluffy cows."

Last week, Yellowstone separately called on visitors to maintain distance from and respect the wildlife due to a number of recent incidents. Over Memorial Day weekend, CNN reports that visitors took a newborn elk for a ride in their car and dropped the calf off with the local police department. Unfortunately, the elk ran away, and its whereabouts are currently unknown, but the incident is under investigation.

If a sassy Instagram post and ardent pleading from the National Park Service aren't enough to get you to give their wildlife some well-deserved space, it might be time to revisit the golden rule, “treat others as you would like to be treated.” In this case, if you have no desire to be poked and prodded at or thrown into a stranger's car, chances are wildlife feel the same.

Looking for more travel tips?

Whether you need help sneaking weed onto a plane, finding an airport where you can sign up for PreCheck without an appointment, or making sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to when your flight is canceled, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for up-to-date travel hacks and all the travel news you need to help you plan your next big adventure.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Kelsey Allen is an editorial assistant at Thrillist.