Wild horse injures young girl at state park


Wild horse injures visitor at state park

KALISPELL, Mont. - A 7-year-old girl was injured on Sunday by a wild horse at Wild Horse Island State Park. The island is on Flathead Lake, east of Big Arm State Park.

According Dave Landstrom from the Montana State Parks he said the girl was hand feeding fruit to at least 1 horse and was kicked in her back and knocked to the ground.

Injuries were not severe, bruising and some cuts and scrapes. She was taken to St. Joseph Medical Center in Polson. Lake County officials tell us that they transported her by boat to Big Arm State Park, where an ambulance took her to the hospital.

The island is home to six wild horses.

"These are wild animals and they have free range of the island and so there are no enclosures, no pens, we don't handle these animals. They're wild," said Region One State Parks Manager Dave Landstrom.

Officials advise visitors to stay at least 100 feet away from the animals and to view them from a safe distance. But we found videos online of people who have been face to face with the horses there.

"That's absolutely too close, having contact with any animal on the island, be it a horse or anything else is ill-advised; it can be dangerous," said Landstrom.

We also reached out to Ashley Bangeman who has been training horses for 18 years. She says horses are just like any other animal -- unpredictable and they can be dangerous.

"I think a wild horse is just like any other wild animal, you need to be respectful," said Bangeman.

Park officials want to stress that visitors need to be aware of these dangers. They say there are signs on the island telling people to stand back.

"The horses become accustomed to seeing people at a distance and that's a good way to view them, at a distance," said Landstrom.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials are investigating the incident to find out exactly what happened.

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