13 bison struck and killed in truck crash near Yellowstone National Park

Thirteen bison were killed after a tractor-trailer hit the animals outside Yellowstone National Park on Wednesday, authorities said.

The accident happened on Highway 191 near mile marker 4 in southern Montana, the West Yellowstone Police Department said in a statement Friday. The area is near the western entrance to the national park. Authorities said the tractor-trailer struck all of the bison and some were later euthanized “due to serious injuries”.

Officials said bison can be seen frequently near roads and trails during the winter months because it’s easier for them to move around, putting them in the possible path of vehicles.

“We regularly deal with wildlife struck and killed on the roads in our area due to the abundance of wildlife in our area and our proximity to Yellowstone National Park,” the department said. “We are always saddened by any of these incidents, especially when so many animals are lost.”

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Police used the crash to remind people to slow down in certain road and weather conditions, noting that stopping is more difficult on icy roads. Road conditions at the time of the accident “would dictate driving below the posted speed limit”. Temperatures at the time of the crash in West Yellowstone were below freezing, according to Weather Underground.

Officials initially thought multiple vehicles were involved in the bison deaths, but determined the other two vehicles were isolated incidents.

North America’s largest land mammal, the bison, has inhabited Yellowstone since prehistoric times, according to the national park. The species was on the verge of extinction due to hunting in the 1800s before receiving protection from the US military. There were about 5,450 bison in the area in the summer of 2021, officials said. Animals can often be seen in herds.

Police said the Montana Highway Patrol will investigate the accident. USA TODAY has contacted the Montana Highway Patrol and the National Park Service for comment.

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.

USA Today

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