Thirteen bison from the Yellowstone National Park in
Montana were killed after being struck by a semi-truck, according to police.

“Thirteen bison were killed in this traffic accident, with
some of the bison needing to be euthanized due to severe injuries,” said the
West Yellowstone Police Department in a statement posted on Facebook on Friday,
December 30.

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Some of the bison died instantly and others were euthanized
because of their injuries.

According to police, the accident took place on US Highway
191 near mile marker 4. Initially, authorities believed that two other passenger
vehicles were also involved in the traffic incident but found, upon further
probe, that all the bison were hit but the semi-truck and that the two other
vehicles were involved in secondary accidents.

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No individual in the truck or in the two other vehicles was
hurt, said Police Chief Mike Gavagan.

The gruesome incident occurred amid a severe winter storm
that swept across the nation earlier this week. Speed may not have been a
factor in the accident, though “road conditions at the time would dictate traveling
below the posted speed limit,” police said.

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During the winter, bison often gather near roads to
navigate in heavy snow, according to the police department. The dark brown
color of the animals and their eyes’ lack of reflection of light, including
headlights, can make them difficult to see at night, the report added.

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“We deal with wildlife being struck and killed on the
roadways in our area on a regular basis due to the abundance of wildlife in our
area and our close proximity to Yellowstone National Park,” the police
statement said.

“We are always saddened by any of these incidents,
particularly when so many animals are lost,” it said.

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According to the National Park Service, Yellowstone is the
only place in the United States where Bison have lived continuously since
prehistoric times.

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Currently, Yellowstone is home to the country’s largest
bison population on public land, thus making them the most important such herd
in the US. Approximately 5,450
bison were counted in Yellowstone, as of the summer of 2021.