Despite repeated warnings, tourists continue to get too close to bison while exploring Yellowstone. Sadly, this time it was more than just a close encounter.
It’s easy to forget that these wilderness areas aren’t zoos, and the animals you see are feral. Although it may seem like a great photo-op when you meet these creatures, it’s crucial to respond appropriately.
Today, we’re sharing about a recent attack and how to stay safe in this beautiful park.
Let’s get into it!
A Bison Attacks Tourist in Yellowstone
Rescuers recently airlifted a 47-year-old Phoenix, Arizona, woman out of Yellowstone to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. Officials were rather tight-lipped regarding the situation because there’s an ongoing investigation. They didn’t release her name, condition, or details about the run-in.
However, they did mention the attack occurred near the Lake Lodge Cabins, which sit on the north shore of Lake Yellowstone. A spokesperson shared that two hikers were in a nearby field when they crossed paths with a pair of bison.
One of the beasts charged at the hikers as they walked away from the wild animals. The encounter resulted in a female hiker experiencing significant chest and abdominal injuries requiring immediate medical attention.
Officials used the opportunity to remind the public about the importance of safety while visiting the park. Hopefully, this situation will encourage future guests to adhere to warnings.
About Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone takes the prize as America’s first national park. Most of its 2.2 million acres are in Wyoming, but portions are in Montana and Idaho. While the landscapes are breathtakingly beautiful, what separates this park from the rest sits deep underground.
It’s home to one of the largest active volcanic systems in the world that heats more than 10,000 geothermal features. You can see hot springs, fumaroles, mud pots, and geysers.
In addition to its volcanic qualities, it’s a fantastic place to view wildlife. Bison, moose, elk, and bears make their habitats throughout the area. You’ll want to remember this, especially if you plan to tackle any of Yellowstone’s 900 miles of trails.
Luckily, seeing some of the most popular destinations is relatively easy by car. Driving the 142-mile Grand Loop Road lets you see Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and Mammoth Hot Springs. Make sure you carve out time to experience the bright colors of Grand Prismatic Spring. They’re simply out of this world!
About Bison in Yellowstone National Park
Bison are magnificent creatures that lived here continuously since prehistoric times. Today, it’s home to the largest population of bison living on public lands. At last count, officials estimate 5,900 of them freely roam.
If you want to view one of these massive animals, drive to Hayden and Lamar Valleys. Additionally, it’s common to find them feasting in prairies during the summer. There’s no telling where you’ll catch them standing in all their glory.
When we say bison are massive, we’re not exaggerating. Males can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and stand nearly six feet tall. Generally, older males will separate themselves from the pack and become aggressive. Considering they can run upwards of 35 miles per hour, listen to officials and keep your distance.
How Common Are Bison Attacks in Yellowstone?
Most visitors worry about grizzly bears. However, bison are responsible for more injuries than any other animal in the area. The park typically experiences at least one attack every year. Unfortunately, these numbers spiked from 1978 to 1992, averaging four annual incidents. Thankfully, they’re rarely fatal and are more of a warning to leave them alone.
Generally, these attacks occur because visitors test their luck and get too close. Whether they’re trying to take a selfie or pet them, these furry creatures quickly put tourists in their place. On the other hand, some guests are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Because these animals are free to roam, they can end up anywhere. Many hikers have unexpectedly encountered them on trails. The worst-case scenario is accidentally stepping between a mom and her calf. If she feels you’re a threat, she likely won’t take any chances and will charge.
Bison attacks aren’t uncommon: Yellowstone Bison Attack Almost Ends Badly for Campers.
What To Do If a Bison Charges You?
Snorts, shaking their heads, and pawing at the ground are warning signs of a potential ambush. However, bison sometimes give little warning. We mentioned earlier that these creatures can run up to 35 miles per hour, so they’re clearly very fast. It’s essential to take action immediately if they start running toward you.
Find something to hide behind. Move from spot to spot as the animal tries to get to you. Hopefully, it quickly loses interest and goes on its way. Climbing into a vehicle or building can offer plenty of protection.
Another solid option to consider is to climb a tree. As you can imagine, bison aren’t great climbers. In fact, they can’t climb at all. Choose a solid tree because they could knock it over and send you falling to the ground.
If you experience an attack, protect your head and neck. There’s a good chance they’ll rough you up but leave the scene once they no longer perceive you as a threat. Lay as still as possible and give them time to exit.
View Yellowstone Bison and Wildlife From a Distance
Keeping your distance is an excellent way to avoid an attack regardless of the type of wildlife. Invest in a zoom lens for your camera or a quality set of binoculars. By staying far away, you lower the chances of spooking them.
Stay 100 yards away from dangerous creatures like bears and wolves. For larger animals like bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes, keep at least 25 yards. It’s a good idea to err on the side of caution and give them as much room as possible.
Many of the recent attacks result from guests trying to take photos. Do yourself a favor, and resist the urge to test your luck by getting as close as possible. As the signs remind you, “Leave it alone and give it space.”
Bison aren’t the only animals to watch out for in Yellowstone: The Most Dangerous Creatures in the Rocky Mountains.
Don’t Underestimate the Bison in Yellowstone
Unfortunately, we haven’t heard any updates regarding the woman’s condition, but we wish for the best. In addition, we hope you’ll take the opportunity to learn from this situation. Stay away from wildlife and allow them to roam in peace.
While they may appear to be friendly or cuddling, they’re not. The bison in Yellowstone are wild animals that can seriously mess you up!
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