Hiking tips

Utah DWR offers safety tips for people who encounter bison on Antelope Island in the wild

Bison. Photo: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

UTAH, July 6, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — As Utahns head out for summer adventures this time of year, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources would like to remind visitors to Antelope Island and a few other areas of the state to appreciate the bison from a safe distance.

Antelope Island State Park is a popular recreation destination for people who enjoy hiking, camping, bird watching and boating on the Great Salt Lake, according to a statement from Utah DWR. The island is also home to many wildlife including mule deer, pronghorn and bison.

Bison can also be found in the Henry Mountains in southern Utah and the Book Cliffs in eastern Utah, Utah DWR noted.

“Antelope Island is where you will find one of the largest and oldest public bison herds in the country, the DWR statement read. “Due to the large bison population living on the island, it is quite common to see one of the animals. During the winter months, there are approximately 515 bison on the island. Once the bison females gave birth in the spring, bringing the total to around 750 animals.

In recent years, there have been several instances where visitors to the island have been charged and injured by bison. People should always know what to do if they encounter a bison.

“People usually get too close,” Antelope Island park superintendent Jeremy Shaw said in a prepared statement. “They always want to get closer and closer for photos. But at the end of the day, every time there’s a dangerous interaction with wildlife, it’s because the person got too close.

Here are some tips to avoid making a bison aggressive if you encounter one:

  • If you see a bison and it stops what it’s doing and starts paying attention to you, you’re 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, do not hesitate to pass it slowly. But again, stay inside your vehicle.

  • If you see a bison in the distance, do not cross the course on foot to approach it. Take your photos from a safe distance.

  • If you are hiking and a bison is near you or on the trail, you should either back up and go back the way you came, or leave the trail and give the animal a very wide berth when you get to it. exceed. You can go off the trail if your safety is in danger.

“We have trail restrictions on Antelope Island in the backcountry, but safety trumps those rules,” Shaw said.

“If you’re hiking in the backcountry and encounter wildlife that is in your path, we urge you to do the tour.” Whatever distance you think you should stay from the animal, double it – that’s the distance you should stay.

These safety tips also apply to other wildlife. For more details on what to do when you encounter different types of animals in the wild, visit the Wild Aware Utah website.

Bison. Photo: Lynne Chamberlain/Utah Division of Wildlife Resources