There have been six buffalo-vehicle collisions in Wind Cave National Park this year – three of which resulted in bison fatalities, reports the Rapid City Journal. A local woman was involved in the third fatal accident last Saturday on Highway 385, said park spokesman Tom Farrell. She had no visible injuries, but her car was totaled.
This year’s accidents demonstrate a marked increase from previous years. In 2018, no bison were hit, while in 2017 two were hit but the accidents were not fatal. Two bison died from crashes in 2016. In nearby Custer State Park, no bison have been killed in vehicle accidents this year, but two were hit in 2018, one in 2017, and one in 2016. One of these died soon after the crash, while the other three had to be euthanized later due to injuries sustained in the accidents.
Park officials are unsure as to what is causing the increase, but most accidents are caused by drivers going over the speed limit and not being able to see the large animals standing in the road in the dark. They can be particularly dangerous in the winter months, when it gets dark early and bison often stand in the road to eat salt off the road.
Learn more about wildlife in the Black Hills at the Black Hills Knowledge Network news archive.