OUTDOORS + RECREATION

Expert says to give bison their space and distance

Jul 1, 2022, 6:00 PM | Updated: 8:09 pm

Two people have been gored by bison at Yellowstone National Park in less than a week. An expert at ...

Two people have been gored by bison at Yellowstone National Park in less than a week. An expert at Antelope Island State Park says it's important for people to give bison their space and distance. Photo credit: Kira Hoffelmeyer, KSL NewsRadio

SALT LAKE CITY — In wake of two people being gored by bison at Yellowstone National Park this week, an expert says people need to give bison plenty of space and distance.

“They’re not necessarily aggressive in general,” said Wendy Wilson, assistant park manager for Antelope Island State Park. “But when they feel threatened, that’s when they become aggressive because it’s a reaction to feeling threatened.”

Wilson says there have been a few human encounters with bison at Antelope Island State Park.

“It actually does happen at Antelope Island,” she said. “We’ve had a handful of bison encounters over the past four or five years.”

She says the reason why you hear about it at places such as Yellowstone is because of the size and popularity of the park.

“We probably hear about it more from Yellowstone, I think mainly is because they have 10 times as many visitors as we have,” she said. “So, there is more opportunity for bison encounters to go negative at bigger places like Yellowstone.”

Giving bison space and distance

Wilson says that bison have a bubble of safety.

“They are cautious and nervous around what they perceive to be a threat,” she said. “And humans, they perceive to be a threat.”

When around bison, Wilson recommends individuals stay 100 feet away. She says some bison have a bigger bubble of safety than others do.

Additionally, Wilson says to watch the animal for signs when you are around them.

“If they stop what they are doing to look at you,” she said. “That’s the first indication that you’re probably approaching that boundry.”

Furthermore, Wilson says if you continue to approach a bison, it will raise its tail as a warning sign.

Wilson says bison can run up to 40 miles per hour and can change directions quickly. She warns that humans can’t outrun a bison.

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Expert says to give bison their space and distance