Date of this Version
One Health 6 (2018) 1–6
Yellowstone National Park is home to the largest bison population on public land in the United States. Although Yellowstone regulations require visitors to remain at least 23 m from bison, since 1980, bison have injured more visitors to Yellowstone than any other animal. We examined a series of bison-related injuries at Yellowstone to evaluate the circumstances of these injuries and to identify common risk-enhancing behaviors that lead to injury. To do this, we analyzed narrative case incident records from law enforcement regarding bison-human encounters in Yellowstone during 2000–2015. Data regarding demographics, preencounter ac- tivities, number of persons involved, type of injury, and acknowledgement of appropriate viewing distance were extracted from the records. 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: 0.3–6.1 m). 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. Effective injury pre- vention campaigns for national parks require an understanding of the behaviors and motivations of persons who approach bison. Including behavioral science and behavior change techniques in bison injury prevention cam- paigns might reduce injuries at Yellowstone.