Video: Yellowstone Bison Hurls Small Girl in Air After Charging Group That Petted It, Terrifying Video Shows

A bull bison in Yellowstone National park charged at a 9-year-old Florida girl and hurled her into the air on Monday in a shocking incident caught on camera.

Miraculously, the girl from Odessa—who was with a family group at the time—was left with only relatively minor injuries treated by park medical staff shortly afterward, according to a statement from the National Park Service (NPS). She was released from the Old Faithful Clinic later in the day.

While an investigation into the incident is still ongoing, eyewitnesses say that a group of around 50 people—including the unidentified girl—were standing within 5-10 feet of the bison for at least 20 minutes near Observation Point Trail in the Old Faithful Geyser area before the animal decided to charge.

"My brother and I were looking at the hot springs, and we saw a bunch of people running down the path to the bridge," Hailey Dayton, 18, an eyewitness who filmed the incident, told NBC News. "We saw through the trees some people petting the bison, super close."

"Because it was agitated by all the people and noise, it just kind of attacked," she said. "After that, everyone was screaming. There were a bunch of kids crying."

In the statement, the NPS stressed that animals in Yellowstone are wild, urging people to give them sufficient space.

"Stay 25 yards (23 meters) away from all large animals—bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes—and at least 100 yards (91 meters) away from bears and wolves," the statement read. "If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity."

Despite the presence of seemingly more dangerous animals such as bears and wolves, bison have injured more people in Yellowstone than any other creature, the NPS said. The animals—which can weigh up to 2,000 pounds—are often unpredictable and can run three times faster than humans.

"This is what happens when you f**k with wildlife and pay no mind to an animal's personal space," Dayton wrote in a tweet—which has since been deleted—accompanying the video she captured. "This family was petting the buffalo before it charged. And as you can see the parents saved themselves over their daughter. I'm disgusted."

There are approximately 4,500 bison living in Yellowstone in what is the nation's largest and most important bison population on public land. Yellowstone is the only place in the lower 48 states where free-ranging bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times, according to the NPS.

The Yellowstone population is also significant for being one of the few herds in the country that has not been interbred with cattle. Because they are allowed to roam relatively freely, they behave in much the same way as their ancient ancestors.

Bison are the largest land animals living in North America today. Their lifespan usually ranges between 12 and 15 years, although some individuals have lived up to 20 years of age.

While they are herbivores that feed primarily on grass, they can be aggressive if provoked. Despite their size, they are agile and fast, capable of running up to 30 miles per hour.

bison, Yellowstone National Park
A bison lays in a meadow near the Midway Geyser Basin area of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming on August 22, 2018. Yellowstone is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. George Frey/Getty Images