A new report released five days ago by the Centers of Disease Control seems to reinforce common sense: if you do silly things near bison, you risk getting gorged.
The report, titled “Risk-enhancing behaviors associated with human injuries from bison encounters at Yellowstone National Park, 2000 –2015 studied the police narratives of 25 documented bison-caused injuries in Yellowstone National Park from 2000 to 2015.
The authors note that: “Bison encounters resulted in injury to 25 persons (21 visitors and 4 employees). Age
range for injured persons was 7–68 years (median: 49 years), and 13 were female. All injuries occurred in areas
of high visitor concentration. Mean visitor distance from bison before injury was 3.4 m (range: 0.3–
Twenty persons (80%) actively approached bison before their injuries; 5 (20%) failed to retreat when bison
approached. Fifteen persons (60%) were injured when in a group of ≥3 persons approaching bison. Twelve
persons (48%) sustained injuries while photographing bison. Six persons (24%) acknowledged they were too
close to bison. Education alone might not be sufficient to reduce bison-related injuries.”
Yellowstone requires that visitors stay more than 25 yards or 23 meters from the animals. All of the attacks occurred when people were much closer than that.
The researchers note that the park’s educational efforts seem to not be effective.
“Despite Yellowstone’s extensive
educational materials, the results show a recent increase in human in-
juries from bison encounters, indicating that education alone is not
sufficient to reduce bison-related injuries. Injury reduction is rarely
possible without some amount of behavior change,” the report notes. “An increasing
recognition is observed regarding the importance of using behavioral
science approaches for injury prevention and control. Applying
behavior change techniques like those used by public health practitioners should be considered to reduce bison related injuries.”