YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WY — A 9-year-old Odessa, Florida, girl was injured Monday when she and two others were aggressively charged by a bull bison in Yellowstone National Park, park officials said. A video shows two adults running away while the bison lowered its head and hurled the girl into the air.
The park’s public affairs office said about 50 people gathered near Observation Point Trail in the Old Faithful Geyser area Monday were within 5 or 10 feet of the bison for about 20 minutes before he charged the group.
The girl is expected to recover. Her family took her to the Old Faithful Lodge, where she was treated by park emergency officers. She was later taken to Old Faithful Clinic for treatment and released, the park service news release said.
Watch what happened:
The widely circulated video was filmed by Hailey Dayton, 18, who was visiting the park with her family.
“My brother and I were looking at the hot springs, and we saw a bunch of people running down to the path to the bridge,” Dayton told NBC News Wednesday. “We saw through the trees some people petting the bison, super close.”
Because the bison was agitated by the people and noise, “it just kind of attacked,” Dayton said. “After that, everyone was screaming. There were a bunch of kids crying.”
Petting bison — and all wildlife in the park — is strongly discouraged.
“Getting close to wildlife is not a smart idea,” Denise Germann, the public affairs officer for Grand Teton National Park, told NBC’s “Today” show. “I know everybody likes to get that selfie. They like to get that great photo but safety needs to come first.”
About 4,500 wild bison roam Yellowstone. Despite their size — an adult bull can weigh about 2,000 pounds — bison can run up to 35 mph, as fast as a horse. Extremely agile animals, they can turn quickly and jump high fences, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Yellowstone National Park’s estimated 4 million annual visitors are asked to take a park pledge and give animals room to roam.
“Wildlife in Yellowstone National Park are wild,” the news release from the park’s public affairs office said.
“If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity,” the release said.
Besides bison, the park is home to bears and elk, which the park service said “have injured and killed people.” Other animals in the park include moose, bighorn sheep, deer, wolves and coyotes.
Visitors should say 100 yards away from bears and wolves, and 25 yards away from all other animals, including bison. They’re also encouraged to carry bear spray and know how to use it.
“Be alert, make noise, hike in groups, and stay on trails,” the park service said. “If you encounter a bear, never run.”
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