'No, No, No, Don't Do It': Man Filmed Illegally Petting Yellowstone Bison—'We Expect Better From Our Visitors'

A visitor to Yellowstone National Park tried to pet a bison in an illegal act caught on video by an onlooker.

In the clip, the man reaches out to touch the bison's head over the wooden fence of a boardwalk near a thermal area, but after a couple of seconds the animal abruptly turns away.

As he approaches the animal, another man can be heard saying, "No, no, no, don't do it, no," but the warnings are ignored.

Park officials say that although no one was hurt, the act could have caused the animal to charge, placing the people on the boardwalk in danger, The Associated Press reported.

Officials are investigating the incident shown in the video to identify where it took place and who the man was.

"The individual who recently was captured on video touching a wild bison along a park boardwalk showed an incredible lack of judgment and common sense," Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement provided to Newsweek.

"Not only did he put himself and others at risk, he violated regulations designed to keep these animals wild. We expect better from our visitors," he said.

The encounter is just the latest example of Yellowstone visitors placing themselves in danger by getting too close to bison.

In July, a bison charged at a 9-year-old Florida girl and hurled her into the air.

Eyewitnesses said that a group of around 50 people were standing within 5-10 feet of the bison for at least 20 minutes, causing the animal to become agitated and charge.

Miraculously, the girl—who was with a family group at the time—received only relatively minor injuries.

In a statement, the National Park Service (NPS) urged visitors to give animals at Yellowstone sufficient space.

"Yellowstone National Park reminds visitors that wildlife in the park are wild," the statement read. "When an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space. Stay 25 yards (23 meters) away from all large animals—bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes and at least 100 yards (91 meters) away from bears and wolves. If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity."

Although they appear fairly docile, spending most of their time grazing on grass, bison can be unpredictable and may quickly become aggressive if provoked.

In fact, bison have injured more people in Yellowstone than any other creature, according to the NPS. Despite their size—they may weigh up to 2,000 pounds—the animals are agile and capable of running at up to 30 miles per hour.

Every year, there are a handful of incidents where people are injured by the animals. In 2018, for example, one woman was gored in the hip.

There are approximately 4,500 bison living in Yellowstone in what is the nation's largest and most important bison population on public land. Yellowstone is the only place in the lower 48 states where free-ranging bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times, according to the NPS.

bison, Yellowstone National Park
A bison walk through a meadow near the Midway Geyser Basin area of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming on August 22, 2018. George Frey/Getty Images