It is with pride that we announce the “National Bison Legacy Act” was signed into law by President Obama last week, naming the buffalo America’s official mammal. And even though this distinction may have you wanting to spend some time observing these majestic beasts—there’s no need to try to befriend one anytime soon…
Multiple buffalo interactions over the last week have highlighted the unfortunate and devasting results when visitors interfere with Mother Nature. By all accounts—though they may seem docile—buffalo ARE wild animals. They have natural instincts, and when threatened, will protect themselves and their calves by any means necessary.
As you drive through some of South Dakota’s buffalo-roaming parks, you will pass a number of signs clearly indicating, “Buffalo are dangerous. Do not approach.” These signs aren’t simply a suggestion—they are imperative to ensuring your safety. As tempting as it may be to get close and snap the perfect selfie, the safest place to view buffalo is from within your vehicle. You should never approach buffalo or try to feed them.
On its website, the National Parks Service warns of the dangers of large wildlife. It states that visitors must stay at least 25 yards away from bison.
“Bison can run three times faster than humans can sprint and are unpredictable and dangerous,” they explained. “Visitors must give the animals enough space and alter their own behaviour to avoid interacting with an animal in close proximity. Do not approach wildlife, no matter how tame or calm they appear.”
As we embark on the summer season ahead, we hope you have the opportunity to encounter and witness the nation’s official mammal—but all from a safe, responsible distance.
Main image courtesy of Eden Bhatta of The Tainted Tripod.