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bison wallowing June 20 2017

Bull Bison Put Down Outside Yellowstone After Car Collision

A bull bison was put down after being struck by a vehicle in Wapiti, Wyoming just outside of Yellowstone National Park.

The accident occurred at dusk Sunday, August 6; the bull was put down later that night and removed Monday morning.

Wyoming Game and Fish Commission game warden Travis Crane told the Powell Tribune the bull suffered severe head and leg injuries, walking around in circles and refusing to be moved. Crane believes the bull has been hit before, although, as Crane notes, it takes a lot to take down a bison. From the Tribune:

The bull was euthanized Sunday night just east of an outfitter shop, on the eastern boundary of Shoshone National Forest. The combination of a large, dark animal on the road at night can spell disaster for motorists and animals alike.

While he was trying to euthanize the bull, cars were whizzing by at a high rate of speed, Crane said. The game warden, originally from Thermopolis but now residing in Cody and employed with the Game and Fish for 13 years, said at least one bison is hit every year.

Earlier this year, a Ford F-250 was totaled after hitting another bull bison, Crane said. In that case, the bull wandered off, surviving the collision.

Cody photographer Steve Torrey said he came across a bull walking down the North Fork highway early on the morning of July 9. The bison was just inside the Shoshone National Forest on a curve that’s located near a formation known as Laughing Pig Rock.

“I felt I could not drive on by the situation as it would be irresponsible to do so knowing how fast the tourists drive around the blind corner,” Torrey recalled. “So I stayed with the bull, flashing my lights at approaching cars, most of whom slowed down.”

Mostly bulls wander out of Yellowstone National Park. The East Entrance to the park brings many tourists into the area — some seemingly in a hurry to get to their destination.

Last year, the Wyoming Department of Transportation generally changed the speed limit in the area west of Buffalo Bill State Park to the Shoshone National Forest boundary from 70 mph to 65 mph during daylight hours and 55 mph after dark. (The speed limit through the national forest is 50 mph.)

“It’s helped a lot, but unfortunately there are many in a hurry to get to the park,” Crane said. “People need to slow down and pay attention.”

When WYDOT lowered the speed limit on the North Fork highway last year, Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Phil Farman said local commuters were among the speeders.

Animals such as moose, elk, deer, bears and bison are on the move late in the day. The animals are tougher to see from dusk to dawn.

“That’s when they’re moving,” Crane said.

Bison kills from cars are rare, for the most part. In general, at least one such accident occurs each year. Last year, a bison was struck and killed by a car outside West Yellowstone, Montana.

About Sean Reichard

Sean Reichard is the editor of Yellowstone Insider and author of Yellowstone Insider For Families 2017.

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