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Meet Sparky, the Bison Who Was Struck by Lightning and Lived

Sparky
U.S Fish and Wildlife

This bull bison is arguably the toughest one in Iowa.

Iowa’s Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge is home to a particularly special bison named Sparky. The 11-year-old, 1,600 pound bull earned his name in an appropriate manner. See, Sparky was struck by lightning in 2013!

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted Sparky’s amazing story of survival on their blog page. The large bison was originally moved to Iowa from Montana back in 2006. But it wasn’t until July 2013 that Sparky earned his name.

It was then that wildlife biologist Karen Viste-Sparkman was doing a wildlife survey when she noticed a bison that appeared to be badly injured. A closer look revealed that Sparky didn’t have the usual fighting injuries that male bison often suffer from breeding season brawls with other males, but instead, Sparky was covered with severe burns.

Since the herd on the refuge is wild, officials decided simply to monitor Sparky’s condition. The refuge only intervenes with euthanization on animals that cannot walk or eat. Showing his toughness, the big bison’s injuries slowly healed. Although there’s still a bare patch on his hump and the incident has left poor Sparky with a pronounced limp in one leg. It’s thought he was laying down when he was struck and the bolt exited into the ground through that leg.

Even though he’s a bit smaller than the other bulls in the Neal Smith herd, you’d probably be hard-pressed to find a bison who is tougher!

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Meet Sparky, the Bison Who Was Struck by Lightning and Lived