Update July 22, 2015: A fifth person has been gored by a bison this summer at Yellowstone. Park officials say a 43-year-old woman from Mississippi was posing for a picture when she turned her back on a bison near the Fairy Falls trailhead.
"The woman and her daughter were by the trailhead sign when they decided to take a picture with a bison that was approximately six yards away from them near the trail," a park release said. "When they turned their backs to the bison to take the picture, someone warned that they were too close. They heard the bison’s footsteps moving toward them and started to run, but the bison caught the mother on the right side, lifted her up and tossed her with its head. The woman’s father covered her with his body to protect her and the bison moved about 3 yards away. The family drove to the Old Faithful Clinic, where the woman was treated and released with minor injuries."
“The family said they read the warnings in both the park literature and the signage, but saw other people close to the bison, so they thought it would be OK,” said Colleen Rawlings, the Old Faithful district ranger. “People need to recognize that Yellowstone wildlife is wild, even though they seem docile. This woman was lucky that her injuries were not more severe.”
Update July 7, 2015: Four bison attacks in less than two months is a lot more than usual. "We usually have one to two incidents per year," said Yellowstone spokeswoman Amy Bartlett.
The last two incidents included women who weren't provoking the animals. According to the NPS, a 68-year-old Georgia woman encountered a bison while hiking on Storm Point Trail Wednesday, July 1st. As she passed the bison, it charged and gored her. She remained hospitalized a day later.
The other incident happened on June 23, when a 19-year-old Georgia woman and three friends were walking to their car after a late-night swim at the Firehole River. A bison lying about 10 feet away charged the teen and "tossed her in the air. She was released from the hospital with minor injuries later that day.
Update June 2, 2015: A second Yellowstone visitor was injured by a bison in a three-week period of time.
On Tuesday, June 2, a 62-year-old Australian tourist got too close to a bison in the Old Faithful area. According to witness reports, several people were crowding a bison that was lying on the grass near an asphalt path. A man approached the bison while taking pictures with his tablet. He got to within 3 to 5 feet from the bison when it charged him, tossing him into the air several times.
When park staff responded to the scene, the man was 100-feet from the animal. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital. His injuries were serious but not life-threatening.
May 15, 2015: A 16-year-old exchange student vacationing in Yellowstone National Park with her host family had a fateful encounter with a bison, as reported by CNN. The girl was in the Old Faithful area of the park and got dangerously close to the animal.
Park regulations stipulate that you must stay at least 25 yards away from bison and other large wild animals if at all possible. Of course, bison roam freely inside Yellowstone and often congregate on roads and boardwalks in popular tourists spots.
The teen approached the bison, getting within 3-6 feet of it, then turned her back to the animal to pose for a photo. It would have made a great vacation picture, but she paid dearly for it. The bison only had to take a few steps to gore her with its horns.
Thankfully, the incident happened at Old Faithful where rangers and other park staff were on hand to quickly help. The teen was rushed to the Old Faithful Medical Clinic and then airlifted by helicopter to a hospital. She was seriously hurt but her injuries are not life-threatening.
Every year, some visitors to Yellowstone are gored by bison, sometimes fatally, according to the park service.
- Bison can sprint three times faster than humans can run.
- They are unpredictable and dangerous.
- Your best view may be from inside a hard-sided vehicle.
In case of emergency in the park, dial 911.