By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A bison gored a conservationist working on Southern California's Catalina Island, puncturing his lung and leaving him to stagger hundreds of yards until he found hikers who called for help, the spokesman for an environmental group said on Thursday.
The bison is one of about 150 of the horned, iconic hump-shouldered creatures that live on the picturesque island, less than 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Los Angeles.
Christopher Baker, chief executive officer of the American Conservation Experience, was doing global positioning system work on Wednesday for a trail system he is proposing, his group said in a statement.
Baker turned a corner on a trail and was surprised by a bison directly in his path, the group said. He tried to move slowly away from the animal but it charged him.
"He's pretty experienced, so this is not someone who is out there and doesn't understand animals," said Matt McClain of the Catalina Island Conservancy, which cares for the animals. "I kind of suspect that this was one of those crazy accidents."
The bison was one of a handful of the animals that made it past a fence used to keep the herd on one side of the island, McClain said. Baker, who is expected to survive, suffered bruises as well as a punctured lung, McClain said.
Baker, who was alone, walked at least a quarter of a mile (400 meters) until he reached two hikers who called for emergency assistance, the spokesman said.
McClain said the conservancy had no plans to do anything to the bison that injured Baker.
Unlike bears, bison are not predators, so an attack on a person is not an indication the animal is more likely to attack humans in the future, he said.
Bison are believed to have been brought to Catalina Island in the 1920s for a film production. The animals that were left there proliferated until they grew into a herd that at one time numbered in the hundreds.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)