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Parks Service uses humor in new bison safety campaign

Jul 11, 2022, 2:18 PM | Updated: Jul 17, 2022, 4:07 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

What advertisements stick in your brain? If you said “the funny ones,” you’re the person the National Parks Service hoped to reach with their latest bison safety campaign.

The new public service announcement was posted on the agency’s Instagram account. It’s a drawing that shows a stick-figure human being tossed into the air by a bison.

And in large font, the poster warns park visitors not to “pet the fluffy cows,” and to think safely, act safely.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by National Park Service (@nationalparkservice)

 

But it’s no joke

The new poster was released after the news that a third person, in less than a month, had been gored by a bison at Yellowstone National Park. All three victims were hospitalized.

And the National Park Service said that all three had gotten too close to the bison, something that Utah wildlife officials also warn about.

“People usually get too close,” Antelope Island Park Manager Jeremy Shaw said.

“They always want to get closer and closer for photos. But ultimately, any time there is a dangerous interaction with wildlife, it’s because the person got too close.”

Bison in Utah

Antelope Island is closely associated with bison. It is home to what the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources calls the nation’s largest and oldest public bison herds. But the DWR also says bison can also be found in the Henry Mountains in southern Utah and the Book Cliffs, in eastern Utah. 

Think safety, act safely

There are several things to know about safety around bison, an animal that can weigh up to 2,000 pounds — if it’s a male — and stand 6 feet tall.

And though they are large, they can run up to 35 miles per hour. But don’t get yourself into the position of having to race this animal. instead:

  • If a bison stops what it is doing and starts paying attention to you, you are too close and should slowly back away.
  • If a bison is in the middle of the road, wait for it to pass. Do not get out of your vehicle.
  • If a bison is on the side of the road, feel free to slowly drive past it. But again, stay inside your vehicle.
  • If you see a bison in the distance, do not walk across the rangeland to get closer to it. Take your photos from a safe distance.
  • If you are hiking and a bison is close to you or on the trail, you should either back away and return the way you came, or leave the trail and give the animal a very wide berth when passing it. It is OK to go off the trail if your safety is at risk.

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Parks Service uses humor in new bison safety campaign