Bison. Photo: Department of Wildlife Resources / Lynn Chamberlain
Utah, July 11, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) – The Utah Department of Wildlife Resources is issuing a summer safety reminder to give bison plenty of space.
“If you are hiking or camping this year, especially on Antelope Island, there are some important safety tips to keep in mind when you encounter a bison,” the DWR statement said.
“Antelope Island State Park is a popular recreational destination for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, camping, bird watching, and boating on the Great Salt Lake. Many species of wildlife also live on the island, including mule deer, pronghorn and bison. “
Antelope Island is home to one of the largest and oldest public bison herds in the country, the statement said.
“Due to the large bison population on the island, it is quite common to see one of the animals. About 515 bison live on the island during the winter months. After the female bison had their calves in spring, the total number was around 750 animals. Bison can also be found in the Henry Mountains in southern Utah. “
There have been several cases in the past two years of visitors to the island being accused and injured by a bison. While these incidents are rare, people should still know what to do when they encounter a bison.
“People usually get too close,” said Jeremy Shaw, Antelope Island park manager. “You want to get closer and closer for photos. But in the end there is always a dangerous interaction with wild animals because the person has come too close. “
Here are some tips on how to avoid a bison from becoming aggressive when you encounter one:
- If you see a bison and they stop paying attention to you, you are too close and should be slowly retreating.
- If a bison is in the middle of the road, wait for it to pass. Do not get out of your vehicle.
- If there is a bison on the side of the road, feel free to drive past it. But even here you stay in your vehicle.
- If you see a bison in the distance, don’t go across the pastureland to approach it. Take your photos from a safe distance.
- If you are hiking and there is a bison nearby or on the way, you should either back away and return the path you came or leave the path and give the animal a very wide bend as it passes. It’s okay to get off track when your safety is at risk.
“We have trail restrictions on Antelope Island in the hinterland, but safety trumps those rules,” Shaw said in the prepared statement. “If you are hiking in the hinterland and come across wildlife in your way, we recommend going around it.
“However you think you should keep your distance from the animal, double it up. You should stay that far back. “
These safety tips also apply to other wildlife species. For details on what to do when you encounter different species of animals in the wild, visit the Wild Aware Utah website.