Blooming wildflowers and sparkling geysers remain a perennial display of Mother Nature's own Fourth of July fireworks in Yellowstone National Park. The chance to see abundant wildlife up close and personal also brings thousands of visitors to the park over the summer holiday season.
Sometimes those encounters can get a little too close and personal, as was the case this past Saturday, when a male visitor from Massachusetts in his mid 50s was gored by a bull bison near the Norris Campground.
Though not deliberately taunting the animal, the man instead simply let the bison approach to within a few feet of where he was sitting and refused to move away. The chance for a more brazen view resulted in the man suffering a broken collarbone, shoulder blade, several ribs and a groin injury when he was tossed nearly 10 feet in the air and pinned to the ground. He was airlifted to a hospital in Idaho Falls, ID and is expected to recover.
The animals, which typically weigh between 1,000 pounds for females and 2,000 pounds for males, often congregate near roads and other developed areas where Yellowstone’s 3.5 million annual visitors gather.
Yellowstone officials are reminding park visitors that wildlife are, in fact, wild. Intentionally approaching or disturbing animals is a violation of park regulations, which could ultimately lead to the death of the animal involved. Park rules require that you stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves at all times, and at least 25 yards away from all other animals including elk and bison. If an animal approaches you, it is your responsibility to move a safe distance away, not the animal's.
Park rangers vigorously enforce these regulations that are designed to protect both people and animals. Visitors are also reminded to be vigilant at all times with proper food storage by keeping food, garbage, coolers and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or food storage boxes. Those hiking are also advised to stay on designated trails, hike in groups of three or more people, carry bear spray and to be alert for wildlife. The best defense against attacks is to stay a safe distance from wildlife and use your binoculars, spotting scope or telephoto lens to get a closer look, and never feed, approach, disturb or entice wildlife, including birds, in any way.
Hiking in Glacier.com