ENVIRONMENT

Caution: Bison ahead

Jun 15, 2024, 10:43 AM | Updated: 11:08 am

The best thing people can do to stay safe around bison is to give them space....

The best thing people can do to stay safe around bison is to give them space. Photo taken in July 2022. (Kira Hoffelmeyer, KSL NewsRadio)

(Kira Hoffelmeyer, KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — When going hiking and camping in Utah this summer, it might be a good idea to keep bison safety in mind. Especially if taking a trip to Antelope Island State Park.

Faith Jolley with the Division of Wildlife Resources came onto the KSL Outdoors show to talk about bison and how to stay safe around them.

“They are wild and there are some things you should keep in mind,” Jolley said.

According to Jolley, the best thing you can do is give bison some space and watch your distance. She said whatever distance you think you should stay away from the bison, double that distance.

Most likely, if you think you’re too close, then you are too close to the animal.

On Antelope Island State Park in particular, there are trail restrictions meant to keep people on the hiking trails. Jolley said if you run into a bison while on a trail at the park, safety always trumps the island’s trail restrictions. 

“If you come across bison and it’s in your path or it’s near the trail, either leave the trail or go all the way around the bison,” Jolley said, adding to keep a large distance from the bison if choosing to go around it.

“Or just back away slowly and really give it that space.”

Keep in mind that the bison may look docile and cute, but they are still wild animals.

“With, particularly bison and moose, they’re not predators so people don’t really think they’re dangerous. They look like fluffy cows or whatever but in reality, both of these species can be pretty aggressive if you’re getting too close,” Jolley said.

“[People] just always end up getting too close. They’re trying to take their selfies; they’re trying to get up and see it right up close. And that’s when we see a lot of these incidents. It doesn’t end well.”

Where are the bison?

Most people will run into bison on Antelope Island State Park. However, Jolley said there are some other areas in Utah where people may find the animals. 

“We do have a bison herd on the Henry Mountains and in the Book Cliffs,” Jolley said. “But they’re both super remote, so most people are never going to see these bison.”

Caution with other animals

Another animal to take caution around are moose.

In June, the moose are having their babies. This is the time of year where a mother moose can become more aggressive and territorial, according to Jolley.

“We see incidents every summer. We just recently had one where a lady had her dogs and there was a mom and two babies, and it just [charged],” Jolley said.

“And people get hurt, you know, they’re big and they’re fast and so you definitely just want to give them as much space as you can.”

In the fall, Jolley said its breeding season, and the bulls can become aggressive and territorial as well.

Jolley said if you stumble upon a moose, just back away slowly, and do what you can to give them their space.

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Caution: Bison ahead