Officials at Yellowstone National Park say that a 62-year-old Australian man was tossed into the air several times by a bison after he got within five feet of the animal. The incident occurred on Tuesday after a crowd had gathered around a resting bison near Old Faithful. Bison are not an unusual sight in the park and are allowed to roam freely, but finding one so close to the asphalt path attracted many tourists. Bystanders say the victim was a part of the crowd and was reportedly taking pictures of the animal on his iPad.
“Possibly, the person who ends up being gored or attacked is maybe not the one who is harassing the animal,” Park spokesperson Arm Bartlett told CNN. “(The bison) may have been approached all day long… eventually the animal reaches its breaking point and charges people.”
Unfortunately for the victim, he found himself in the path of a bison that has been poked one too many times. Officials say the man was thrown into the air more than once and later admitted to a hospital. Although the extent of his injuries was not specified, the victim was well enough to be released later in the day.
Experts continue to remind visitors that bison, even if they seem friendly or are close to human structures, are still wild animals and should not be approached beyond 25 yards.
“Just because the animal is near the trail or boardwalk doesn’t mean it’s tame,” Bartlett told the Associated Press. “A ranger can’t be at every bison all the time, so people need to keep that common sense.”
This is the second bison attack in Yellowstone in less than a month. On May 15, a 16-year-old Taiwanese exchange student was seriously gored when she attempted to take a “selfie” with another bison also near Old Faithful. Bison injuries—even fatal ones—occur nearly very year in the park, yet officials say having two incidents within such a short time frame is unusual. Some say this may be a sign of increasingly carelessness from visitors despite repeated warnings not to approach wild animals. Rangers are asking tourists to keep an eye on their surroundings and not be distracted by their cameras or phones.
“Bison can sprint three times faster than humans can run and are unpredictable and dangerous,” Yellowstone officials said in a press release last month. “Just because an animal may be near a trail or boardwalk does not mean it should be approached within the recommended safe distances. Visitors are advised to give the animals enough space and be willing to alter their plans to avoid interacting with an animal in close proximity.”