Yellowstone Bison Goring Victim: Don’t Repeat My Mistakes

A year later, the victim of a Yellowstone bison goring is warning visitors to the Park to heed the guidelines on keeping an appropriate distance from Park wildlife.

It’s a lesson that can’t be stressed enough: Yellowstone wildlife is dangerous, and visitors should have the proper respect for the potential danger involved. Everyone who visits Yellowstone is warned of the dangers and told about how far a distance to keep from the wildlife. Wildlife small and large can attack: this week, for example, a woman was attacked by an otter in the Hebgen Basin outside the Park, near the Madison River Bridge.

Her injuries may not have been serious, but serious injuries do happen every summer because visitors don’t heed the warnings. Last summer Robert Dea of Newbury, Mass., was visiting the Park and observing a lone bison bull near the Norris campground. When the bull approached Dea and a group of observers, Dea chose to stay put as the bison advanced. Bad move: the bull decided Dea was a threat and attacked in exactly the manner officials expect when they warn of the dangers of the wildlife.  From the Billings Gazette:

That’s when the bison wheeled around and butted Dea in the lower back, sending him flying at least 10 feet into the air. He landed on his left shoulder, suffering a torn groin, broken shoulder blades and several broken ribs.

Park rangers administered first aid and Dea was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Idaho Falls. He spent eight days in what he called “a pain-filled haze” before moving to a hotel for three more days of recuperation. Insurance covered most of the bills, which he described as “enormous.”

“I still dearly love animals — yes, even bison — and support efforts to clear a place for them to survive and prosper in their natural habitat without being hunted and hounded by human encroachment,” Dea said last month.

The good news is that Dea didn’t suffer permanent injuries as a result of the attack. Still, he went through months of recuperation as a result of the attack — an attack, at the end of the day, that could have easily been avoided.

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