JACKSON WNE) — For the second time in four years, a nighttime auto wreck in Grand Teton National Park has claimed the lives of a handful of bison at once.

Both of the collisions likely involved speed — the nighttime limit is 45 mph — and both occurred in the Elk Ranch Flats area of the park, where bison are routinely congregated in big numbers alongside the highway. 

The recent fatal accident occurred at 10:45 p.m. on Oct. 19, when an out-of-county Wyoming resident was headed southbound down Highway 26/89/191 in a Ford F-350.

“The bison herd was thought to be crossing the road, and the driver caught the tail end of it,” Teton Park spokesman C.J. Adams told the Jackson Hole Daily.

The Ford’s original collision killed or severely injured four bison. A fifth bison was later hit and killed. A semi-truck driver headed northbound veered into the southbound lane because the broken-down F-350 was in his lane.

Law enforcement rangers who investigated the wreck believed that speed was a factor in the F-350 striking the herd.

“A citation was issued for expired registration,” Adams said. “Even though speed was suspected as a factor, law enforcement officers determined they didn’t have sufficient evidence to pursue that.”

“I know we think of bison as these large animals,” he added. “But at night, it’s really dark in the park and bison are kind of darkly colored, so they can be hard to see. That’s why it’s important to go 45 miles per hour. You can save a life, and that life might even be your own when it comes to hitting bison.”

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