An Edmonton man lived to tell the tale of a bison attack at Elk Island National Park (EINP).
Craig Neilson and his wife were camping at Astotin Lake Campground over the long weekend. Early Saturday (May 19), Neilson, a long-distance runner, decided to go for a run on a nearby trail.
On his way back, he stumbled upon a bison grazing close to the road. The next thing he knew, he was running for his life. Neilson said the bison charged him. As he ran towards a nearby wooded area, he slipped and fell multiple times.
"He lifted me. He hit me up with his head and obviously his horn went into me," said Neilson. “He shoved me forward towards a bush.”
Neilson claims he was lucky the bison pushed him towards the bushy area, where he scrambled for shelter among some nearby trees. If the large, agitated mammal had pushed him back toward the road, the attack might have continued.
After the initial shock, Neilson gathered his thoughts.
“He hit me in the butt. So, I’m trying to feel what kind of damage is done cause I knew I couldn’t walk very well,” said Neilson. “I could then feel this hole in my shorts and a big flap of skin. I could then feel all the blood pooling in my shorts and then running down my leg.”
Neilson lost his phone during the attack. Luckily, a passing car stopped by to look at the bison and Neilson waved them down for help. As the people in the car went for assistance, Neilson found his phone and called 911. Dispatchers sent an ambulance. In the meantime the people in the car were able to find a Sheriff who helped Neilson until the ambulance arrived.
Neilson suffered a two-inch deep, curved laceration that required seven stitches to his left buttocks. He was discharged from Lamont Health Centre and back home around 2:30 p.m.
Neilson grew up in the Stony Plain area on a horse ranch and is used to being around large animals.
“I could’ve easily sustained so many worse injuries.”
He told MIX 107 it’s mostly muscle pain right now. With the proper recovery, he hopes to compete in a 100-mile race called the Sinister 7 Ultra in early July.
As for the time being, he does have a word of caution for those visiting the nearby national park.
"If you see a bison, find another way. Don't even get close. Stay clear of them."
Parks Canada staff confirmed the incident. Including last weekend's encounter, there have only been two bison attacks in the last six years in EINP.
Neilson said he would still go back to the area, however he wife says “they’re good for a while.”