Girl (9) flung into air by bison at Yellowstone park

Animal came charging at girl as she tried to run away at US park

Bison walks in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, US. Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Bison walks in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, US. Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters


A bull bison roaming Yellowstone National Park in the US injured a 9-year-old girl this week, charging at her as she tried to run away and head-butting her into the air, according to park officials and a video posted on social media.

The girl was treated for her injuries and released, officials said. But as footage of the dramatic encounter spread across social media, the episode served as the latest warning of what can go wrong when tourists get too close to wildlife.

The girl, who was not identified, was visiting from Odessa, Florida, when she encountered the bison near the Old Faithful Geyser area on Monday afternoon, according to the National Park Service.

A group of about 50 people had been within 5 to 10 feet of the bison for at least 20 minutes before the bison charged, officials said. Visitors are supposed to stay at least 25 yards from large wild animals in the park.

In a video clip, the bison can be seen ambling in a field while tourists walk in the background. Suddenly, the animal charges toward a cluster of people. Two people who appear to be adults escape. But as dust flies and people scream, the bison catches up to the young girl and thrusts her in the air with its head.

July is the height of tourism season at Yellowstone. Each summer, more than 2 million tourists swarm the park, putting them in proximity to the hundreds of animal species that live there, including bald eagles, bears and wolves. About 4,500 bison roam Yellowstone, the only place in the United States where the animals have lived continuously since prehistoric times, according to the park.


Bison weigh 1,000 to 2,000 pounds, can run 48 km/h and are considered aggressive and unpredictable. They have injured more people in Yellowstone than any other animal. But humans can’t seem to stay away. Interactions between humans and bison in recent years have left both species worse for the wear. Last summer, authorities arrested a man who was captured on video goading and lunging at a bison on a paved road in Yellowstone. In a separate encounter that year, a woman was gored by a bison after a crowd got too close. In 2015, a woman was injured while trying to take a selfie with a bison.

In 2016, it was the bison that suffered. A calf had to be euthanised after visitors picked the animal up and put it in an SUV because they thought it was cold. The calf could be seen standing in the back seat of the vehicle, an odd contrast captured in a widely shared photo.

The calf was then rejected by its herd, officials said, and had to be put down because it was “causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway,” the National Park Service said. The tourists were later cited for transporting the calf, officials said. Park officials said they were investigating the encounter between the bison and the 9-year-old girl and had not issued any citations. The National Park Service did not immediately respond to questions about the encounter or the video.

Yellowstone encourages visitors to take the Yellowstone Pledge, a promise to respect the park and the animals that live there. “Wildlife in Yellowstone National Park are wild,” the National Park Service warned again this week. “When an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space.”

Officials urged visitors to stay 22 metres away from large animals like bison, and at least 90 metres from bears and wolves. “If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal,” the National Park Service said. – New York Times