A 72-year-old California woman trying to take photos of a bison was gored by the animal at Yellowstone National Park, park officials said Monday.
The woman, who was not identified by the park, “sustained multiple goring wounds” and was flown to an Idaho hospital Thursday, the National Park Service said. Requests for more details on the woman’s condition were not immediately returned Monday night.
She “approached within 10 feet of a bison multiple times to take its photo,” the park service said in a statement.
The bison most likely felt threatened after being repeatedly approached, Yellowstone Senior Bison Biologist Chris Geremia said in the statement.
The park urges people to stay away from wildlife and to keep at a minimum of 25 yards away from animals like bison and elk. For bears or wolves, visitors are told to stay at least 100 yards away.
“Bison are wild animals that respond to threats by displaying aggressive behaviors like pawing the ground, snorting, bobbing their head, bellowing and raising their tail,” Geremia said in the statement. “If that doesn’t make the threat (in this instance it was a person) move away, a threatened bison may charge.”
The incident happened at the woman’s campsite at Bridge Bay Campground, on the northwestern side of Yellowstone Lake.
Bison attacks on humans have occurred in Yellowstone before, including just last month. They are massive animals, and bull bisons can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. A bison can run at speeds up to 35 mph, the park says.
In May, a visitor was knocked to the ground by a bison after getting too close in the Old Faithful Upper Geyser Basin, the park said at the time. The visitor refused transportation to a medical facility.
That incident occurred as Yellowstone was conducting a phased reopening after being closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In July 2019, a 9-year-old girl was tossed into the air by a bull bison at the park when the animal charged a group of people who had gotten within 5 to 10 feet of the animal. She was treated at a clinic and released.
Yellowstone, an estimated 3,472 square miles in three states— although most of it is in Wyoming, has long been known for its wildlife, and the park says that it preserves the most important bison herd in the United States. More than 4,800 of the animals were counted there in August, according to the park.
Last week, a 37-year-old woman suffered a minor injury after being knocked down by a female grizzly bear in Yellowstone, the park said.
The woman was hiking alone on the Fairy Falls Trail near Old Faithful on the morning of June 22, when she encountered two bears “at close range, the park said.” The woman tried to use bear spray.
Yellowstone park said the bear appeared to be protecting its cub, and no action against the bear would be taken. Park officials recommend hiking in groups of three or more and making noise to avoid surprise encounters.
Last year, Yellowstone was the sixth most-visited “national park,” with around 4 million recreational visits in that year, according to the park service. The National Park System has other parks and monuments, including places like the Lincoln Memorial, and not all are designated national parks.
Yellowstone is the first to be designated as a national park, and that designation occurred in 1872.