A 25-year-old woman was gored by a bison in Yellowstone National Park after approaching the animal too closely, park officials said in a statement earlier this week.
Park rules require visitors to stay more than 75 feet away from large animals, including bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose and coyotes, and 300 feet from bears and wolves.
The woman came within ten feet of the bison as it neared a boardwalk at Black Sand Basin—just north of Old Faithful—and the animal tossed her ten feet in the air. Two other people were also within 75 feet of the animal, per the park.
The woman suffered a “puncture wound and other injuries” and was transported to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, per the park. Though her condition is unknown, her injuries appear to be non-life threatening. Several news outlets, including NBC News, reported that the woman had died, but a hospital spokeswoman told EastIdahoNews.com’s Nate Eaton that the hospital has “had no recent patient death as a result of the injuries being described in the NBC report.” The outlet has since issued a correction.
“This is the first reported incident in 2022 of a visitor threatening a bison (getting too close to the animal) and the bison responding to the threat by goring the individual,” per the park statement. “Bison have injured more people in Yellowstone than any other animal. They are unpredictable and can run three times faster than humans.”
At around 5 to 6.5 feet tall and upwards of 2,000 pounds, American bison are the largest land animals in North America. They can run at speeds up to 40 miles per hour and their sharp horns can grow to two feet long. Despite their physical fearsomeness, injuries from bison encounters are generally rare. Fifty-six people were injured and two died from bison attack in Yellowstone between 1978 and 1992, while another 25 were injured between 2000 and 2015. The vast majority of these attacks were the result of visitors getting too close, often for a photograph.
After a devastating 19th-century hunting campaign brought the continent’s 30 to 60 million bison to near extinction, a conservation effort led by Native American tribes, nonprofits and the U.S. government has brought North America’s population to 30,000 bison living in public and private herds and 400,000 animals as livestock. Yellowstone’s population, which fluctuates from 2,300 to 5,500 animals, has grown so large that park officials planned to allow 600 to 900 to be killed or captured for relocation last winter to prevent them from spreading disease. As of April, only 49 were removed.
“The safest way to view wildlife is through a telephoto lens, a spotting scope, or a pair of binoculars,” the park’s website states. “Park animals are wild and dangerous. Bison, bears, and elk have injured and killed people. Do not approach, encircle, follow or feed any animal.”