Buffalo hit, put down

By Ron Burtz

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A Custer State Park buffalo had to be euthanized after being hit by a car on Monday night, June 11. 

Lt. Steve McMillin of the Custer County Sheriff’s Office said the accident occurred at about 11:30 p.m. on Highway 87 near the intersection with Mt. Coolidge Road. He says the northbound vehicle driven by a 32-year-old Box Elder man struck the animal as it stood in the middle of the roadway causing about $12,000 in damage to the car. The driver was not cited for the incident.

Kobee Stalder, visitor services program manager at Custer State Park, said  the buffalo sustained severe injuries to its left rear leg, so park officials put it down.

Stalder says this is the first reported incident between humans and animals in the park this year. “People are abiding by the rules,” he said, noting that Yellowstone National Park has not been so fortunate in recent days.

According to news reports, there were three animal attacks in Yellowstone in the space of a week earlier this month. Two women were injured near a park hotel by female elk in separate attacks two days apart, then the next day another woman was gored by a buffalo. Park officials say the buffalo attack occurred when a crowd came within 15 feet of the animal in the Lower Geyser Basin. The animal charged the crowd, striking the 59-year-old woman, causing her to be hospitalized with a hip injury.

Custer State Park has experienced an increase in visitor/bison interactions in recent years, according to Stalder, who said, “Visitors need to know that bison are dangerous and should not be approached. These large animals may appear docile, but they are wild and unpredictable. The safest place to view them is from a vehicle.”

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