Custer State Park officials warn visitors of bison encounters

Published: May. 13, 2016 at 6:51 PM CDT
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They are fascinating creatures. In fact, the bison is now the national mammal of the United States.

But, they are dangerous, as we saw Thursday when a woman was seriously injured at Custer State Park.

Nearly two million people visit Custer State Park annually...and I bet none of them think they'll leave on Life Flight.

But that can happen when you test your fate against the wildlife.

"The wildlife live here in the park and we're actually the visitors to their park and we have to treat all of the wildlife with respect and give them the space that they need to go about their daily activities," said Craig Pugsley, Custer State Park visitor services coordinator.

Pugsley said visitors should stand no fewer than 100 yards away from bison, if they have to get out of their cars at all.

But what happens if you do get too close?

"Most of times they'll give you some kind of warning that you've kind of entered their space,” he said. “With bison, that's pawing the ground,

shaking their heads, raising their tails. Those are just warning signs that you actually got too close to invading their space."

Pugsley showed me an interactive example of the warnings. But the cardinal rule is still the simplest to remember.

"You just have to remember that they are wild and you know, it can be unpredictable and they have to use good common sense around them and you get too close to them."

KOTA Territory News does not have a condition on the woman who was injured yesterday.