Can Everyone Please Stop Trying to Pet the Bison at Yellowstone?

It's dangerous for people and animals alike.

When I was a child, I used to run straight towards the water as soon as we got to the beach. I wanted to submerge my entire body under the waves and was not interested in anything that would prevent me from doing so. But sometimes, we'd arrive and the ocean would be churning, with a strong current and roaring undertow. On these days, my mother had to grab my hand and sit me down, so that I wouldn't wade in and get swept out to sea.

"You can always enjoy nature," she'd say. "But you must also respect it, and sometimes respect includes a healthy amount of fear." It was a simple lesson for a child, but based on recent news, not everyone has learned it.

A person was very nearly trampled by a bison after she attempted to touch the animal during a recent visit to Yellowstone National Park. In a video posted by TouronsOfYellowstone on Instagram, the person can be seen reaching out their hand as the bison grazed near a walkway. Before making contact with the giant, infamously not-pettable animal, the bison charges slightly, bucking its head towards the tourist. Fortunately for everyone involved, no one got hurt. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident at the park.

The TouronsOfYellowstone account has multiple videos featuring tourists venturing within feet of grazing bison, either trying to take photographs of or with the animal.

There are as many as 5,500 bison in Yellowstone, and the animals can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. The majestic creatures appear pretty docile while lounging or grazing, but if they feel threatened the animals can be very aggressive, making them dangerous. Bison can charge at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, in fact. The National Park Service enforces a 25-yard distance rule between the animals and all park visitors.

Not only can the interactions between bison and visitors be dangerous to people, but it also puts the animals at risk.

"Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival. Park regulations require that people stay at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all wildlife (including bison, elk and deer) and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves," a statement released by the National Park Service said. "Disregarding these regulations can result in fines, injury and even death. The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules."

In case none of the above information made it clear enough: Resist the intrusive thoughts and don't touch the bison!

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.