If possible, keep your distance from bison: What an Antelope Island official wants you to know

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SYRACUSE, Utah (ABC4 News) – A bison attack at Antelope Island on Saturday may have killed a runner. Park officials remind the public if they plan to visit the state park, to be mindful of the wildlife – especially bison.

Antelope Island is home to nearly 800 bison. And with more than half a million visitors every year, park officials said it’s important they be aware of their surroundings.

“We try to do our best to let people know that these aren’t pets, they’re not tame and you need to be aware of them,” said Jeremy Shaw, the state park’s manager.

Signs are posted throughout the state parking, asking visitors to not approach bison.

“We want people to understand that these animals can be dangerous and to give them as much room as they possibly can,” Shaw said.

Shaw said bison are pretty mellow unless provoked or startled by something that’s around them.

Whether a person is biking, running, camping, or simply visiting the state park, Shaw encourages people to be mindful of what’s around them.

“It still can happen and ultimately you want to protect yourself,” Shaw said. “If they’re going to come out to Antelope Island and enjoy the trails, just be aware of what’s going on around you. Pay attention up in front of you, both sides of you, even behind you.”

If visitors can keep their distance from bison, Shaw said – at a minimum – they should be about a football field length away in an effort to keep out of harm’s way.

“Your very best ally when you’re dealing with a bison is distance,” Shaw said. “The further away, the better off you are.”

But if a person does find themself too close, walk away slowly. And if necessary, Shaw said to use restricted areas of the trail (for distance), as safety comes first.

In the nearly 10 years Shaw has worked at Antelope Island, he said bison attacks are not a common occurrence.  

“Unfortunately, it does happen, but it’s not something that happens very often,” Shaw said.

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