Theyre called wild animals for a reason A pamphlet distributed by the National Park Service to people entering Yellowstone National Park warns visitors not to get too close to bison, also known as buffalo (AP photos)
Theyre called wild animals for a reason
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A pamphlet drawing of a man being gored and flung into the air warns tourists in Yellowstone National Park. Don't get too close to bison. They're wild animals. They can be dangerous.

Rangers distribute the flyer to people as they enter the park. But some visitors still aren't getting the message. Bison have gored two people in the Old Faithful area within the past three weeks.

Increased tourism has put more people close to the animals, Yellowstone spokeswoman Traci Weaver said. Tourism was up 18 percent in the park in May. That is compared to the same month last year.

Most of Yellowstone is in Wyoming. But it extends into Montana and Idaho, too.

"There's just a lot of people around. And the temptation is there when a bison looks calm," Weaver said.

Still, she said the two attacks in such a short period were unusual.

The latest attack on June 2 was an especially violent scene. A bison charged a 62-year-old Australian man. The animal flung him into the air several times.

A male American bison can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. That is bigger than a Smart car. They have horns. Those horns aren't just for grubbing around for tasty shoots.

Bison often behave much like cattle. They often are lumbering about and lazing in the sunshine. But when they get a mind to, they can run up to 40 mph. That is almost twice as fast as Usain Bolt's world-record speed in the 100-meter dash.

"I just don't think people realize how fast bison move. They're big animals but they move quickly. And so when a bison becomes agitated, it doesn't take him long to cover that short distance," Yellowstone spokeswoman Amy Bartlett said.

The unidentified Australian was flown by helicopter to a hospital. He was treated for serious injuries and released.

The attack happened as a group of people crowded near the bison. It was lying on the grass near a paved trail. The man was taking photos of the shaggy beast. He was just a few feet away. The whole crowd was much too close, park officials said. Anything less than 75 feet is unsafe, they warn.

In addition, visitors should not stare at their camera or phone. Instead, be aware of the surroundings. And know that Yellowstone's wild animals are free to roam where they please.

If a bison is near a trail, don't go down that trail.

"Just because the animal is near the trail or boardwalk doesn't mean it's tame," Bartlett said.

Yellowstone's summer tourist season began about a month ago. The park already has had some dicey run-ins between wildlife and tourists. A videotape showed camera-clicking tourists scrambling for their vehicles. That was as a black bear and her cubs tried to cross a bridge and began running in the tourists' direction.

Then on May 16, a bison in the Old Faithful area gored a 16-year-old girl from Taiwan. She was posing for a picture near the animal. She also was treated at a hospital for serious injuries and released.

Some who encounter bears in Yellowstone aren't so fortunate. Bears have killed at least seven people in Yellowstone since the park was established in 1872.

But bison and elk, especially the big-antlered males during mating season each fall are responsible for more injuries to people. It happens at least a couple of times every year. And Yellowstone has far too many tourists and wildlife for park rangers to even try to police every situation.

"A ranger can't be at every bison all the time," Bartlett said. "So people need to keep that common sense."

Critical thinking challenge: How can your phone be a hazard?

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COMMENTS (13)
  • John0724-YYCA
    6/09/2015 - 04:30 p.m.

    I never knew bison were that deadly because I thought that they do no harm to anyone but when I read this article I should probably take that because because a bison gorged a 62 year old man and another bison gorged a 16 year old girl and they had to go to the hospital of wide injuries so they are really deadly. I really think that next time I go there I shouldn't take pictures of bison.

  • william1108-yyca
    6/09/2015 - 04:36 p.m.

    it feels cool to tame a dangerous animal. I wish I can do that. But it would sort of be very very dangerous to do that. It might be dangerous because you might get extra hurt or you might break one of your bones. So that's why i'd like to have one or how dangerous it is.

  • ShanniaC-Bis
    6/15/2015 - 05:12 p.m.

    I thought the part the where the author said " But when they get a mind to, they can run up to 40 mph." was amazing, because I did not realize that, the size of the bison, does not affect how fast the animal can run.

  • RosaS-Bis
    6/15/2015 - 05:14 p.m.

    I thought the part where the author said that the Australian man was just a feet away from the buffalo when it attacked him was surprising because I think the Australian man should have just used common sense and stayed away then he wouldn't have been attacked.

  • LisaC-Bis
    6/15/2015 - 05:15 p.m.

    I thought the part where the author said that people don't look at the pamphlet was the right thing to do because some people don't care what it says even though it might be important to know.

  • ParkerS-Bis
    6/15/2015 - 05:17 p.m.

    I thought the part where the author was talking about Yellowstone park is funny because at school we had a state report and they mentioned yellow stone as a place to visit

  • HanyE-Bis
    6/15/2015 - 05:18 p.m.

    I thought the part where the author said "7 people have been killed by bears in Yellowstone park" was suprising because I thought these types of parks the animals are in cages or around a fence.

  • AlisonT-Bis
    6/15/2015 - 05:20 p.m.

    Your phone could be a hazard because the author said that visitors should stay alert of their surroundings instead of paying attention to their phones. Also, your phone could distract you while an animal could be near you and you wouldn't even notice which could lead to danger.

  • RileyA-Bis
    6/15/2015 - 05:21 p.m.

    I thought the part where the author said that the Bison badly hurt a few people per year was surprising because I would think that people would stay away because they are so big and it seems like they can hurt you so easily.

  • JackS-Bis
    6/15/2015 - 05:24 p.m.

    I thought the part where the author said "...visitors should not stare at their camera or phone. Instead, be aware of the surroundings. And know that Yellowstone's wild animals are free to roam where they please" was a good reason why your phone can be a hazard because you could be distracted by it and not notice a wild animal nearby.

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