Custer State Park stresses wildlife safety after incident at Yellowstone National Park

CUSTER, S.D. — You may have seen the viral video of the 9-year-old girl who got a little too close to a bison at Yellowstone National Park.

Although she walked out without serious injury, it doesn’t always turn out that way.

Visitors at Yellowstone screamed as they watched the bison charge full speed towards a small group – eventually sweeping a young girl off her feet and into the air.

Although bison come off as gentile giants, when they get angry, they become one of the most dangerous animals found in the Black Hills.

Custer State Park warns people not to be deceived by the animal’s calm demeanor and to stay at a safe distance or in a vehicle when viewing bison and bulls.

“If visitors do get out of the vehicle we recommend they stay a hundred yards or more away from them,” said Kobee Stalder, said Custer State Park, program manager.

People have been severely injured and even gored by the animals for getting too close. The park hasn’t seen any incidents involving people and bison in three years and they hope to keep it that way.

“They can run up to 35 miles per hour and most of the time you see visitors that are out there in flip-flops. If that animal does become angry and upset and charges you, you aren’t going to be able to outrun that animal, even if you did have proper running shoes,” said Stalder.

The mating season just started and officials warn that people should be extra precautious.

“Especially at this time of year we’re in the rut, the mating season, so the bulls are especially agitated and very temperamental because obviously there’s a lot of testosterone running through them at this point in time,” said Stalder.

In addition, people should never honk or make loud disruptive noises when they are driving through or near the herds.

Overall it is important to remember that you are in their space and if you respect that, they are likely to respect you.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News