WILDLIFE -- 'Sparky' the bison took a bolt from a lightning storm and survived!
Despite the apparent direct hit in 2013, the bison is still standing tall at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa, sporting Mother Nature's brand on its charred shoulder.
Sparky joined the herd at Neal Smith in 2006 after being transferred from the National Bison Range in Montana. The bull suffered severe injury and burns to its hump as well as an exit wound on its hind leg, said wildlife biologist Karen Viste-Sparkman.
Since a lightning strike is something that could easily occur in wild bison anywhere, the refuge let nature take its course. Refuge staff didn't expect him to survive.
With a limp, however, Sparky kept walking. The bull's wounds began to heal.
At 11 years old and about 1,600 pounds, Sparky is a bit thinner than the rest of the bison, but the bull still stands strong. Before being struck, Sparky fathered three calves. Genetic testing will tell if Sparky successfully reproduced after the strike, but refuge staff hopes this bull does -- because he's one tough bison!