Jul 2, 2015

Two more injured after approaching Yellowstone bison

It's getting to be a familiar story out of Yellowstone National Park this summer: a person disobeys park regulations, gets too close to a buffalo and gets hurt.

Park officials said two more people were injured by bison in recent days, meaning there's been four such incidents since mid-May.

In an encounter last week, an off-duty concession employee was attacked after happening upon a bison during a nighttime walk. Then on Wednesday, a hiker was gored after walking past a buffalo that was alongside a trail.

A bison is pictured in Norris Campground in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy Diane Renkin, National Park Service
In the wake of the incidents, Yellowstone officials are again reminding visitors to be responsible for their safety, including by staying at least 25 yards away from bison.

The concession employee, a 19-year-old woman from Georgia, had gone swimming in the Firehole River with some friends after dark on June 23, park officials said in a news release. She'd been walking back to the group's car with one of the friends when they happened within about 10 feet of a bison that had been lying down.

The employee's companion turned and ran, but before she could react, the animal charged and tossed her in the air. The group members returned to Canyon Village, where they all live and work, but the 19-year-old later felt ill and called for medical help. Park rangers took her by ambulance to a hospital outside the park. The woman was released with minor injuries later that day.

"Visitors should remember that while many of the bison and elk in the park may appear tame, they are wild animals and should never be approached," the park service says.

In Wednesday's incident, a 68-year-old woman from Georgia was hiking on the Storm Point trail, approximately 300 yards from the trailhead, when she encountered a bison near the trail. The woman kept walking on the trail, and the bison charged and gored her as she passed it.

Due to serious injuries, the woman was transported to Lake Clinic by ground ambulance and then by airlifted to a hospital outside the park.

They were the third and fourth bison encounters in Yellowstone this summer.

On May 15, a 16-year-old Taiwanese girl was gored in the Old Faithful area. On June 2, a 62-year-old Australian man got repeatedly tossed in the air near the Old Faithful Lodge.

In both of those instances, the visitors had gotten within about five feet of the bison.

If you encounter a large animal along a trail, either find a way to safely go around it or consider turning around.

"Visitors should remember that while many of the bison and elk in the park may appear tame, they are wild animals and should never be approached," the Park Service said in the news release. "Bison can sprint three times faster than humans can run and are unpredictable and dangerous."

Park regulations require visitors stay at least 25 yards away from all large animals (bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose and coyotes) and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.
If a visitor comes upon a bison or elk along a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in developed areas, they must give the animal at least 25 yards by either safely going around the animal or turning around, altering their plans and not approaching the animal.

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