Social distancing rules: People, 6 feet. Bison, at least 75 feet

How close should you get to bison in the wild? Not very, says this humorous National Park Service graphic.
(National Park Service)

In these days of social distancing, the National Park Service is reminding people that 6 feet between humans is now the rule. But for wildlife, it’s much farther. For example, if you’re less than 75 feet from a bison in the wild, you’re too close.

Yellowstone National Park, which hosts a herd of more than 5,000 bison, is now closed to visitors because of the coronavirus outbreak. On Wednesday, the park tweeted a video of Montana TV reporter Deion Broxton who quickly cut short his broadcast when he saw a herd coming toward him.

“A perfect example of what to do when approached by wildlife! Thanks Deion for putting the #YellowstonePledge into action!” the park’s tweet said.


The park advises people to stay 100 yards from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards from any other animal, including bison and elk.

Closer to home, the Catalina Island Conservancy increases that distance to at least 125 feet from its bison. A herd of about 150 bison, descendants of those used in a movie production in the 1920s, roam the hills around Two Harbors. Hikers may see them on trails or fire roads and need to keep their distance.

The conservancy, which manages wildlife and habitat on the island off Southern California, offers these tips:

“Stay at least 125 feet away from any bison! Note: there is no guaranteed safe distance.”

“They may appear docile, but can be defensive if they feel threatened.”

“Do not approach bison to take pictures or for any other reason. Your bison selfie isn’t worth your life!”

“Bison can weigh up to 1,800 pounds and can run up to 35 mph.”