Legal consequences of hitting a bison with a vehicle

Wildlife law Jun 3, 2023

Hitting a bison with a vehicle on a road can have serious legal consequences for the driver, the animal and the park authorities. Bison are large, powerful and unpredictable animals that can cause significant damage to vehicles and injuries to passengers. They are also protected by federal law and park regulations in some areas, such as Yellowstone National Park.

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According to the Legal Expert website, if a driver hits an animal on the road, they may be liable for negligence, animal cruelty or breach of duty of care. The driver may have to pay compensation to the owner of the animal, if any, or to the park authorities for the loss of wildlife. The driver may also face criminal charges or fines for violating park rules or endangering public safety.

The driver’s liability may depend on several factors, such as whether the animal was wild or domesticated, whether it was on a public or private road, whether it was properly fenced or marked, whether the driver was speeding or distracted, and whether the driver took reasonable steps to avoid the collision or report it afterwards.

For example, in Yellowstone National Park, bison are considered wild animals and belong to the public. The park has a speed limit of 45 mph and requires drivers to stay at least 25 yards away from bison and other wildlife. The park also advises drivers to be extra careful at night, when visibility is low and animals are more active. If a driver hits a bison in Yellowstone, they may be held responsible for damaging park resources and endangering other visitors. They may have to pay restitution for the value of the animal, which can range from $2,000 to $10,000 depending on its age and sex. They may also face criminal charges or fines for reckless driving, wildlife harassment or failure to report an accident.

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Therefore, hitting a bison with a vehicle on a road can have serious legal consequences for the driver, the animal and the park authorities. Drivers should be aware of the risks and responsibilities involved in driving near bison and other wildlife. They should follow the speed limit and park regulations, keep a safe distance from animals, use caution at night and report any accidents immediately.

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