SANTA CATALINA (CBSLA.com/AP) — A man has been hospitalized after he was gored by a bison on Santa Catalina Island.
Chris Baker, 43, was airlifted to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center Wednesday after the attack near Isthmus Pier, near the Two Harbors area, according to the Orange County Register.
His mother says he was taking photos of the animal when it attacked. He suffered a punctured lung and was in surgery Wednesday evening.
Baker was CEO and president of the American Conservation Experience, which works with the Catalina Island Conservancy on trail projects.
Matt McLain with the Catalina Island Conservancy told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO any human-bison interaction hasn’t happened on Catalina Island since 2012.
“I wouldn’t say they’re tame, for sure, so we don’t want people approaching them, we would like people who are out hiking or recreating on the island to keep a safe distance from them,” said McLain. “But the attacks themselves are fairly uncommon.”
About 300 bison live on the island in the wake of a contraceptives program launched in 2009 which allowed biologists to maintain population levels that are beneficial both to the herds and to the island.
The bison population exploded after 14 bison brought to film a Western in 1924, but in 2003 it was found their numbers were bringing poor nutrition and health.
In recent years, the animals have been repatriated to Lakota tribes in South Dakota that enter into an agreement with the Conservancy that the animals will live out their natural lives on tribal lands.
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