Say “Bye, Son” to Bison at Antelope Island State Park
The Utah Department of Wildlife Resources is warning tourists to steer clear of bison when visiting Antelope Island State Park this summer.
Antelope Island State Park is the perfect place for some outdoor summer recreation, especially if you’re a Southern Utahn trying to escape the triple-digit weather. Don’t let the name fool you though, it may be called Antelope Island State Park but it’s home to some of Utah's bison.
A DWR press release said the herd living at the state park is the “nation's largest and oldest public bison herds”. There are 515 bison on the island during the winter. Once the cows (female bison) have babies in the spring, the population increases to about 700.
Most likely because of all those cute baby bison, park visitors have been getting a little too close to the wild animals. The DWR has seen bison charging at visitors and injuring them over the last few years.
"People usually get too close," Antelope Island Park Manager Jeremy Shaw said. "They always want to get closer and closer for photos. And any time there is a dangerous interaction with wildlife, it's usually because the person got too close."
DWR Tips to Stay Safe from Bison at Antelope Island:
- If you see a bison and it stops what it is doing and starts paying attention to you, you are too close and should slowly back away.
- If a bison is in the middle of the road, wait for it to pass. Do not get out of your vehicle.
- If a bison is on the side of the road, feel free to slowly drive past it. But again, stay inside your vehicle.
- If you see a bison in the distance, do not walk across the rangeland to get closer to it. Take your photos from a safe distance.
- If you are hiking and a bison is close to you or on the trail, you should either back away and return the way you came, or leave the trail and give the animal a very wide berth when passing it. It is OK to go off the trail if your safety is at risk.
"We've got trail restrictions on Antelope Island in the backcountry, but safety trumps those rules," Shaw said. "If you are in the backcountry hiking and you come across any wildlife that's in your path, we urge you to travel around it. Whatever distance you think you should remain from the animal, double it — that's how far back you should stay."