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
Lexile

A pamphlet drawing of a man being gored and flung into the air graphically 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 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 a statistical anomaly.

The latest attack on June 2 was an especially violent scene, as 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, bigger than a Smart car. They have horns that aren't just for grubbing around for tasty shoots.

Bison often behave much like cattle, lumbering about and lazing in the sunshine. But when they get a mind to, they can run up to 40 mph, or 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 where 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, 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."

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

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COMMENTS (25)
  • lesliew219
    6/09/2015 - 01:23 p.m.

    Your phone can be a hazard because if you try to take a picture of a crocodile than it can come over and bite you which is bad and those jaws are bad news. If your going to take a picture of a wild animal don't get close stay away.

  • coled-fel
    8/21/2015 - 02:13 p.m.

    CTC: Your phone can be a hazard because, when you're looking down at your phone, you're not paying attention to your surroundings, and you can be (possibly) be attacked by a bison or other animal.

  • ethanw-fel
    8/21/2015 - 02:14 p.m.

    Your phone can be a hazard because if your taking a picture of a animal your not watching your surroundings.

  • garretta-fel
    8/21/2015 - 02:14 p.m.

    CTC: Your phone could be a hazard because if you happened to be standing near a buffalo and looked at your phone for a while,the animal could charge at you and gore you.

  • mattv-fel
    8/21/2015 - 02:14 p.m.

    Our phones can be a hazard because we spend too much time paying attention to them, instead of our surroundings. You might not be driving, but you're still in danger of texting and walking. Anything could happen when you're not paying attention.

  • kyleighp-fel
    8/21/2015 - 02:15 p.m.

    Your phone can be a hazard by distracting you from being aware. A bear may be behind you while your photographing some plants or a bison. A bison may charge at you as your taking pictures.
    It distracts you from the situation at hand

  • kolbyd-fel
    8/21/2015 - 02:16 p.m.

    Your phone can be a hazard because you can be looking at it and not paying attention to the wildlife around you.

  • lances-fel
    8/21/2015 - 02:16 p.m.

    Phones can be a hazard because the bison is so fast and can is aloud to roam wherever they want and they are so fast they will hit u whenever your not looking before you know it.

  • ethanb-1-fel
    8/21/2015 - 02:16 p.m.

    Your phone can be a hazard because if you took a photo it could spook the animal causing it to charge you and hurting you badly

  • calaabj-fel
    8/21/2015 - 02:16 p.m.

    Your phone can be a hazard by you trying to take a picture and the flash goes off or you could be trying to send or crop a picture and you would never now when a bison could come up on you.

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