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Colorado teen speaks out after being gored by a bison: 'I'm lucky to be alive'

A 17-year-old from Colorado says he was hiking at a North Dakota national park when he was gored by a charging bison and thrown six feet into the air.
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/ Source: TODAY

A Colorado teen is recounting his harrowing encounter with a bison as he recovers from being gored in the leg after a hike at a North Dakota national park ended with a trip to the hospital.

The 17-year-old, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke by phone from a North Dakota hospital with TODAY about the incident on July 27 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

"I was walking on the trail, and then all of a sudden, I just kind of got this feeling that something was like chasing after me,'' he said. "I didn't know what was happening. I kind of just froze in that moment, but I kept running.

"And then he came up behind me and he got his horn — slashed it through my leg, and then threw me up with his head about six feet into the air."

It marked the second attack by a bison at a national park in a week.

A video shot on July 22 by a tourist showed a 9-year-old girl being tossed in the air after being struck by a charging bison in a stunning scene at Yellowstone National Park in which the girl was lucky to escape without any major injuries.

Editor's note: This video contains footage that some viewers may find disturbing.

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Unlike the young girl, the Colorado teen said he had maintained a safe distance from a nearby herd of about 50 bison, which he said had been making "weird like calls."

"I didn't do anything to aggravate him,'' the girl said. "It was like all by chance."

Thankfully, he is expected to make a full recovery and has since been released from the hospital.

"I'm really lucky, I guess,'' he said. "I'm lucky to be alive."

The height of bison mating season occurs in July and August, which coincides with the busiest months for tourism in the national parks, according to the National Park Service. The mating season usually means more aggressive behavior by the bison.

"It's impossible to tell what a bison's going to do — they have those big eyes that go straight out on the sides, and you can't look in their eyes and see what they're gonna do,'' Rebecca Rolend, a supervisory park ranger at Yellowstone, told NBC's Steve Patterson on TODAY.

The Colorado boy echoed the sentiments of national park rangers warning visitors to keep a safe distance from wildlife.

"A lot of people have the misconception that just because they are in a national park, they're safe from these animals,'' he said. "And they're not."