On the Site:

LOCAL NEWS

Park officials: Don’t get too close to bison on Antelope Island

Jun 27, 2023, 5:56 PM | Updated: 7:20 pm

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — No matter how many times Arne Van Wagoner has seen them, he can’t get enough of them.

“I think I live in the wrong era,” he said with a laugh. “I love wild animals.”

His camera is full of wildlife photos, but there’s something about seeing all the bison at Antelope Island State Park that really makes him smile. It’s why he and his wife made the trip to the island Tuesday afternoon from their Tooele home.

“We brought out grandkids to see this,” Van Wagoner said.

However, for as much as he loves seeing the herd of bison, he doesn’t dare get close to them.

“Oh, I wouldn’t go up to them. They’re bigger than I am. They are faster than me,” he said with another laugh.

Even though bison look lazy and slow, the internet is full of videos of people who made the mistake of thinking the same thing.

“They just don’t care,” Van Wagoner said. “They tell you up at Yellowstone not to mess with anything, but they do.”

It’s also the message Antelope Island State Park managers are getting out there, especially with the busy holiday weekend coming up.

Managers know a lot of people will be visiting because of the bison and the baby bison after the recent calving season.

“The warning is to not approach bison. So, we ask folks, I know Yellowstone says 25 yards, we just try to extend that and say maybe a football field and don’t approach closer than that,” said Wendy Wilson, assistant park manager at Antelope Island. “If they turn their head and look at you, they’re aware of you and you’re probably too close. If they cock their tail, you are definitely too close.”

People have been seriously hurt because they were too close to bison.

There are several warning signs on the island, but managers see people approaching them almost every day.

“All the time. Yes. All the time,” Van Hadley said.

Hadley and his wife live near Antelope Island and use their Utah State Park pass to visit several times a month. Because of their frequent visits, they have seen a lot of things.

“Some of them were very scary,” Hadley said. “One time, a guy was standing out in a field taking a picture and the bison is charging him and he’s running like crazy. We didn’t know what to do, if we should call 911 or what. He finally dove into his car and got out, just barely.”

It was an example of how fast the animals can move and why park managers are asking everyone to be careful.

“They look like big fluffy cows, right? They’re not. They’re wild animals. They have tempers and they have their spatial bubbles,” Wilson said. “We’re threats to them, and so if they feel threatened by us, and if they don’t feel like there’s a good escape for them, then they’ll come after us to protect themselves.”

Here are a few tips from Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources on how to avoid making a bison aggressive if you encounter one:

  • 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.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

The Better Business Bureau has launched a new rescue line called the Scam Survivor Kit to help peop...

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage

BBB launches toolkit to help connect people hit by scams with resources to recovery

The Better Business Bureau has launched a new rescue line called the Scam Survivor Kit to help people who have been the victims of fraud.

4 hours ago

bicycle in Salt Lake City...

Mike Anderson and Mary Culbertson, KSL TV

After an uptick in bicycle crashes, Utah law enforcement, Bicycle Collective plead for change

After recent statistics showed bicycle accidents were on the rise, Bicycle Collective and law enforcement are speaking out, asking for drivers and cyclists to meet in the middle.

4 hours ago

emergency lights...

Larry D. Curtis

1 dead, 1 injured after Jeep rolls down embankment

A man is dead and a woman is hospitalized with critical injuries after a single-vehicle crash on Interstate 70 in Sevier County Wednesday night.

5 hours ago

The cover of a recently released book, titled "When An Angel Leaves Your Life," by the father of Sp...

Garna Mejia

Father of Spanish Fork girl who disappeared in 1995 releases new book

The father of a Spanish Fork teen who disappeared and was killed in 1995 released a book he wrote on the pain of losing her, and how it brought him back to faith.

5 hours ago

Rocky Mountain Power customers have seen outages in the hottest days of the year, when they need it...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Utahns seeing more power outages from fire sensors this summer

Rocky Mountain Power customers have seen outages in the hottest days of the year, when they need it most. RMP says the cause is safety related.

6 hours ago

Hybrid Bermudagrass was formerly banned until Monday, when the Department of Agriculture gave it th...

Darby Sparks

Utahns can now install a grass that will survive 6 weeks without water

Hybrid Bermudagrass was formerly banned until Monday, when the Department of Agriculture gave it the stamp of approval after a BYU professor proved it to not be an invasive species. The grass could become a monumental help in water conservation efforts as it stays green for up to 6 weeks with no watering, unlike the commonly used Kentucky Bluegrass.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Park officials: Don’t get too close to bison on Antelope Island