“Aw, look at that 2,000-pound bison. I just want to pinch its foot-long horns and rest my head against its bone-crushing hooves.”
Said no one ever … until recently.
A few visitors to Custer State Park in South Dakota this summer have been injured by the animals after getting too close to them. The tally is four injured, including one person who tried to pet a bison on the head (maybe, under the right lighting, they really do look like they’re just dying to be cuddled).
These are the first such incidents in five years at Custer State Park, which is home to around 1,300 bison.
“The safest place to watch them is from your car,” a park employee told the Rapid City Journal in July.
That should be obvious, but we live in a time when motorists drive off demolished bridges and plunge to their deaths because Google Maps says to go straight; when hikers, in pursuit of a selfie that’ll rack up likers on Instagram, pose at the edge of cliff and fall off; and when teens walk into oncoming traffic because they’re chasing imaginary Nintendo characters on their cellphones.
That said, it’s not a stretch to assume that some visitors to Custer State Park aren’t paying attention to the signs that read: BUFFALO CAN BE DANGEROUS. DO NOT APPROACH.
The park employee, being polite, said an uptick in visitors could be to blame.
I beg to differ and cite a different reason: Common sense, like the American bison in the 1800s, could be on the brink of extinction.