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 not to get too close to bison. They're wild animals and 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 and 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 that 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 as it lay on the grass near a paved trail. The man was taking photos of the shaggy beast from just a few feet, but the whole crowd was much too close, park officials said.

Anything less than 75 feet is unsafe, they warn. Also, stop staring at your camera or phone and be aware of your 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 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 as a black bear and her cubs tried to cross a bridge in Yellowstone and began running in their direction.

Then on May 16, a bison in the Old Faithful area gored a 16-year-old girl from Taiwan as she posed 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 possible situation.

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

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COMMENTS (80)
  • rachelh10503
    6/09/2015 - 09:00 a.m.

    Wild animals definitely aren't pets. They shouldn't be treated like pets unless they are trained. Since pets are trained, they will be a lot less likely to harm humans and children.

    • Karolina-fie
      3/27/2017 - 10:03 a.m.

      i think u are correctttttt i am with u compltlet

    • Wanida-fie
      3/27/2017 - 10:21 a.m.

      that's right.wild animals are so not pets that is way many peopl are getting hert.

    • Nancy-fie
      3/27/2017 - 10:23 a.m.

      I agree because they get warnings before they go near wild animals and they should think twice before they get hurt or hurt the animals.

  • citlallis6503
    6/09/2015 - 09:40 a.m.

    I think that people should be more aware of their surroundings and be more alert and wise of the things around them like animals and people and be smart about their decisions and don't go near an animal who has a good chance of killing you.

  • Miag-Pav
    6/09/2015 - 09:58 a.m.

    I don't now how I would react if I saw a bison coming at me at 40mph. When I go to Yellowstone, I definitely have to make sure to keep a safe distance from these wild animals.

  • Rachelc-Pav
    6/09/2015 - 09:58 a.m.

    People need to know that its not safe at all to go near dangerous, wild animals. Only professionals can really do so, and even as a professional it is still dangerous to go anywhere near untamed animals.

  • quentinc0909
    6/09/2015 - 10:39 a.m.

    You should never really approach or should I say provoke a wild animal because you don't know if they're hostile or not. Also, bison are wild animals so definitely don't provoke them.

  • coryp120
    6/09/2015 - 10:51 a.m.

    it is whoever got hits fault because the people of yellow stone didn't make the bison mad the people who got hit did. they give a flyer that plainly states be careful by the bison

  • FrancoS2211
    6/09/2015 - 10:56 a.m.

    Wow this is scary in so many ways. Imagine a buffalo charging at you. It brings so many dangers and it could even possibly kill you with just one hit. Scary!

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