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)
  • Camilamuoz
    7/02/2015 - 11:42 p.m.

    In Yellowstone National Park, has been distributed some flyers with a drawing of a man being attacked by a bison, as a warning for people. Tourism has increased in Yellowstone, and the people is more close to the animals, that's a reason why attacks are more frequent. There have been two attacks in yellowstone, the first attack was a old man, he the man had serious wounds and the second attack was in Old Faithful, a bison gored a girl, she had serious wounds too. I think that people who go to Yellowstone National Park have to be very careful with the bisons, and how near are they of them. They should think and realize that the bisons are WILD animals. And about the phones, they can be a hazard because all people carry their phones to the park to take pictures with the bisons. But they don't know that when they pose for the photo they are very close to the bisons, and they exposed to themselves to be attacked by a bison.

  • FranciscaSanhueza
    7/08/2015 - 05:41 p.m.

    People shouldn't bother animals because they are in their natural environment, and tourist must have respect with that and follow the instructions that Yellowstone park give to them. The behavior of bison or another exotic animal can't be controlled by a person, and for me, is something that no one has to do it because animals are free.

  • florenciabenaventerubio
    7/09/2015 - 11:11 p.m.

    People are obsessed about the use of the cellphones, with impressing the rest , to have the best shot, no matter what risks you could have, just for the sake of showing off, an act which I find really illogical.
    The animals are free to live in their place of habitat, it is their right, if they are in a free place, must be respected as such, and that can only be achieved by teaching the public about the dangers, more information on the subject, and not allow people who have this type of behavior.
    Reporting on everything that relates to the animal, educate the people.

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