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Bison attacks at Antelope Island vs. Yellowstone National Park

Posted at 10:01 PM, Aug 31, 2020

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — Antelope Island State Park is trying to figure out why a bison would attack an experienced trail runner over the weekend.

Larry Adams, 55, died Saturday night from his injuries. There were no witnesses to the attack.

Jeremy Shaw, the park manager at Antelope Island, said he believes Adams may have startled the bison while running early in the morning. It’s unclear which bison was involved in the incident.

“Two women actually located him on the trail and called 911,” Shaw said. “There wasn’t any bison around him when we found him… I think he used the island pretty frequently to run. I don’t think this was his first time. He certainly wasn’t a stranger to the island.”

For most people, the bison on Antelope Island are the main attraction. The state park has the third-largest public herd of bison in the country.

Saturday’s incident was the third bison attack at Antelope Island since June 2019, but only the fourth incident since 2013.

Yellowstone National Park, which has the largest public herd, has experienced close to the same amount of visitor injuries — three incidents since July 2019, but only six incidents since 2016.

“They get way more visitation than we do. They have way more bison than we do, so their numbers are probably about double,” Shaw said. “I don’t see any big (safety) changes coming down the pipe.”

Unlike Yellowstone, Antelope Island does not require visitors to carry bear spray, which some say is just as effective on bison.

“I’ve never tried it,” Shaw said. “The biggest thing you don’t want to do is make them more angry, but if it works on a bear, chances are it will work on a bison.”

Shaw said the main safety goal at Antelope Island will continue to be educating visitors about the dangers of being too close to wildlife.

The state park installed additional signs and passed out educational brochures after a bison attacked Kayleigh Davis in September 2019. She was at Antelope Island on a date with her boyfriend, Kyler Bourgeous, who had just been attacked about three months prior.

“That was an anomaly of course,” Shaw said. “Honestly, you just really, really need to pay attention to them. If they stop doing what they’re doing and they start paying attention to you, you’re too close — whether that’s 100 yards or 200 yards or 500 yards.”

Shaw emphasized the chances of being gored are very slim, especially if people are aware of their surroundings.

“We’ve almost doubled the numbers of visitors who are coming out to the park (since 2011),” Shaw said. “Put the phone down. Take the headphones off.”

FOX 13 has spoken to family members of Adams and is honoring their requests for privacy.