‘Tough’ Bison Survives Lightning Strike at Iowa Wildlife Refuge

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Sparky the bison was struck by lightning in 2013; more than two years later, he is going strong after biologists feared he wouldn't live long after the strike. (Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

A bison who was struck by lightning and burned over a large area of his body at an Iowa wildlife refuge two years ago has survived despite the long odds against him, the U.S. Department of Interior said Thursday.

“Sparky” the bison was discovered by a biologist standing alone at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in July 2013.

Wildlife biologist Karen Viste-Sparkman inspected the bull and noticed the severe wounds, which were caused when a lightning bolt struck his shoulder hump, a post on the department’s blog stated.

“His hump was missing hair and there was a large lump on his hind leg, which must have been the exit wound, meaning Sparky was laying down at the time of the strike,” according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The bison was thin, and was not expected to live long after being struck.

Still, Viste-Sparkman kept on checking on Sparky and noted his progress. His wounds started to heal and the was able to walk along with a limp.

Two years later and the “tough” bison is still “going strong,” according to the Department of Interior.

“Sparky has proved us wrong!” the department stated in a Facebook post.

Sparky, so-named because of the lightning strike, is now 11 years old and weighs about 1,600 pounds, according to Fish and Wildlife Service.

The agency first highlighted the bison’s story of survival on its website on Tuesday.


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