WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. (KELO) — So far this year there have been six bison versus vehicle crashes at Wind Cave National Park — three of them left the animal dead. Park staff say this is an increase in the last few years.
Bison safety has become a necessity with this year’s increase in crashes.
“Last Saturday night we had a vehicle that was traveling northbound at Highway 385 at about a quarter to 10 struck and killed a bison and as a result of that the bison rolled up on top of the car actually cracking the windshield,” Farrell said.
Visitors, like Stephanie Deane, know these crashes can be deadly to both people and the bison.
“That’s kind of scary for the bison and the cars and the people in the car, because you think you see these beautiful creatures and you don’t want to get them hurt,” Deane said.
As you can see, the bison are gathering in clumps and following each other around.
“What’s going on this time in the summertime is, it’s their mating season so they are all clumped into a very large herd not really aware of what their surroundings are. As a result of that we have to be more careful with them not really watching what’s going on,” Farrell said.
You have to remain 25 yards away from the bison, but from a safety perspective, you want to remain close to your car.
“They are one of the defining symbols of the American West and these are very special bison. We’ve done genetic studies on them and there’s no evidence of cattle genes in these bison so as a result of that these are very close to the type of bison that were here hundreds of years ago so it’s definetly a herd that you want to protect and enjoy but enjoy from a distance,” Farrell said.
“Don’t get too close to them, keep a safe distance, safe speed, if you come up on them maybe stop and let them cross, other than that enjoy this beautiful country and these beautiful bison wow,” Deane said.
Bison can run at the speed of 35 mph and weigh up to 2,000 pounds. Park officials urge you to drive the speed limit or even a little slower around the park.