Don’t pet the bison.
That’s what officials are reminding people after a man’s encounter with a “pretty large group” of bison sent him to a Nashville, Tennessee hospital on Wednesday, according to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (located in Kentucky and Tennessee), the Leaf Chronicle reported.
The man, who hasn’t been identified, jumped the fence at the South Bison Range, WPSD reported. But the bison enclosure — the area he entered — was restricted, Department of Agriculture officials said, reported WSMV.
Visitors to the South Bison Range can look at the bison from a distance, WPSD said. But the 37-year-old man reportedly decided to approach the animals — and it didn’t end well.
At least one of the animals “rammed” him with their head, officials told WSMV. The attack came after the man apparently tried to touch one of the bison, witnesses reported, according to the Leaf Chronicle.
“He got to within 5 to 10 feet” before a bison “charged him,” said LBL spokesman Chris Joyner, the newspaper reported.
A passerby pulled the man from the area, WSMV reported. He was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he remains in stable condition, officials said.
The incident prompted wildlife officials to issue a warning. “...Bison and elk are wild animals," said Curtis Fowler, wildlife technician at Land Between the Lakes. “Bison will aggressively protect their calves by confronting any perceived threat.Their sharp horns and hooves are unforgiving, and they can react surprisingly fast,” he said.
Joyner said that all wildlife at Land Between the Lakes are off limits, WPSD reported.
“There’s fallow deer, there’s whitetail deer, there’s bobcats,” he said. “There’s a number of wildlife that people may encounter when they’re recreating at Land Between the Lakes. We want them to have that experience, from a distance.”