A marathon runner was left with a huge gash after a 2,000-pound bison charged and dug its horn into his backside while he was out jogging.
Craig Neilson, 26, was enjoying a romantic weekend away with his wife Amberly, 23, when he decided to go for an early morning run before she woke up.
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The farm supervisor was making his way back to the campsite when he came across a plains bison grazing by a ditch in Elk Island National Park in Alberta, Canada.
Although Neilson initially thought it was “cool” to see a bison in real life, his first impression quickly turned when the bulky animal began to charge.
Quick-thinking Neilson began to run toward a cluster of trees, which he knew the bison wouldn’t be able to fit through.
But as he ran toward the forest, he slipped in the mud allowing the bison to catch up to him and dig its curved horn right into the runner’s left bum cheek.
The impact tossed Neilson forward, where he was able to seek refuge in the trees as blood gushed out of his 2-inch-deep, 3-inch-wide wound.
The injured runner flagged down a car that had stopped to take pictures of the animal and was rushed to the local emergency room by ambulance.
Neilson, of Edmonton, Alberta, received seven stitches and still finds it uncomfortable to sit after the May 19 attack.
“I’m training for an ultra-marathon at the moment so I got up really early that Saturday morning for a run and I picked a trail close to the campsite," he said. “I was making my way back to the camp on the main road when I came across a bison grazing at a ditch."
“For a split second I thought it was really cool because I have never seen one in real life, but that changed in an instant," Neilson said. “I obviously startled him and he instantly started charging at me. I was pretty scared. I was like, ‘Holy crap he’s charging.'"
“My first instinct was to get down into the ditch where he couldn’t get me but I didn’t have time," he said. “I saw a cluster of trees I knew he wouldn’t fit through so I just started running toward them, but he was behind me and charging fast."
“And then I slipped and fell onto my hands and knees," Neilson said. "Looking underneath me I could see he was getting closer and closer until he hit me. Luckily he tossed me forward toward the trees I was trying to get to, so I was safe."
“I was in a lot of pain on my rear and I reached my hand back and I just felt the hole in my compression shorts and a lot of blood," he said. "It was rushing down my legs. The bison’s horn had gone right into my left butt cheek. A passing car slowed down to take pictures of the bison and I managed to get their attention."
“I told them I needed help, and they drove to the edge of the park to alert the sheriff," Neilson said. "When the sheriff arrived, I asked him if it looked bad and he said there was a lot of blood. He had some gauze so he did dress it and apply pressure."
“It was so painful. The sheriff managed to call my wife and she came with me in the ambulance," he said. "When I got to the hospital they were worried about the cleanliness of the wound considering a bison’s horn had dug right into my butt cheek. I needed about seven stitches in total so it wasn’t too bad but I couldn’t sit down on it for a week.”
Despite the pain, Neilson, who is expecting his first child with Amberly, who is eight months pregnant, has been able to see the funny side of his unusual injury.
“It is kind of funny. All my friends have been making fun of me," he said. “I mean a bison hit me in the butt. I think it was a freak accident because there has only been one other case of a bison attack in this park."
Dale Kirkland, Elk Island's park superintendent said even though there are 532 plains bison in the park, attacks are very rare.
"This bull in question wasn't exhibiting any abnormal behaviors. He simply was startled by the individual," Kirkland said. "Although attacks are uncharacteristic of bison, they are wild animals and they are unpredictable."
"Saying that, attacks are very rare -- we've only had two incidents, including the one with Craig, in the last six years," he said. "He seems like a great guy and we're really glad he's doing OK."
Neilson said the incident wouldn't stop him from running in the national park, but his wife might not be too pleased.
"I would happily run there again but I’m not sure my wife would like it very much," he said.