Wind Cave officials alarmed by bison crash deaths

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 19, 2013 at 7:44 am •  Published: December 19, 2013

HOT SPRINGS, S.D. (AP) — Officials at Wind Cave National Park in southwestern South Dakota are taking steps to reduce the number of bison killed by motor vehicles after a rash of deaths this year.

Fourteen bison have been confirmed killed in crashes in 2013, with six of those deaths happening in the last three months.

"In a typical year, we average three bison killed. Six in just three months is an alarming amount," Park Superintendent Vidal Davila said. "We're concerned about the safety of our travelers. We don't want people to get hurt. Sometimes just driving the speed limit is too fast for bad weather conditions."

No people have been hurt in the crashes this year, according to park spokesman Tom Farrell.

The park is stepping up patrols, working on better signs and moving bison away from roads, where animals are drawn by salt used to melt snow and ice. The park doesn't salt the roads, but vehicles carry it in from other areas.

"Bison licking salt on roads during or after a winter storm, especially at night, can be nearly impossible to see," Davila said. "It is hard to imagine an invisible 2,000 pound animal, but with their brown hair they just blend into the darkness."

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