Two women visiting national parks have been seriously injured in multiple bison attacks in recent days, park officials said.
In the latest incident, a 47-year-old Phoenix woman sustained « significant injuries to the chest and abdomen » when a bison gored her at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming on Monday.
The attack came just days after a Minnesota woman sustained injuries to her abdomen and foot when a bison charged Saturday at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, the National Park Service said in separate statements this week.
The women, whose names park officials did not name, were sent to the hospital to be treated for their injuries.
Park officials said they were investigating both bison attacks. They did not specify how close the two women had gotten to the bison when the animals charged.
The Phoenix woman was walking with another person past a lodging house on the north shore of Yellowstone Lake in Wyoming when they encountered two bison Monday morning. Park visitors turned to leave, park officials saidbut one of the buffalo charged and gored the woman.
She was taken by helicopter to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Neither the park nor Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center has provided any additional information about the Phoenix woman’s condition.
In the North Dakota incident, the woman was on Theodore Roosevelt Park’s Painted Canyon Trail when the bison attacked Saturday morning, said the park service.
The visiting woman from Minnesota was treated by park rangers and emergency medical workers before being sent to a hospital in Dickinson, N.D. The park said she was in serious but stable condition. She did not specify the hospital where she was.
When it comes to wildlife encounters, park officials have issued a well-worn advice: give them space. Visitors should stay at least 25 feet away from large animals, including bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, elk and coyotes, the park said; they should stay more than 100 meters from bears and wolves.
« If necessary, turn around and walk to the other side to avoid interacting with a nearby wildlife animal, » the National Park Service said.
Yellowstone National Park is home to thousands of bison, while up to several hundred roam Theodore Roosevelt National Park. A spate of bison attacks in recent years has highlighted the dangers of getting too close to them.
In June 2022, a bull bison gored a 34-year-old man after he got « too close, » park officials said. Weeks earlier, a bison had launched a 25-year-old woman 10 feet in the air after coming within 10 feet of the animal. In 2019, a 9-year-old girl was sent flying by a bison’s head which was captured on video and shared on social media. The girl was part of a group that was within five to 10 feet of the bison for at least 20 minutes, officials said.
The National Park Service advises against going near all wildlife but places particular emphasis on bison, which have injured more people than any other animal found in the park, including grizzly bears, elk and wolves, the park service said. Bison can be six feet tall, weigh more than 2,000 pounds, and run three times as fast as humans. Ox-like mammals are known to be temperamental, especially during the summer mating season. Researchers have found that most bison attacks occur in June and July.
Despite official warnings, the hairy bovine’s quiet demeanor can lead visitors to a false sense of security. In a 2018 study Of the 25 bison attacks that occurred in Yellowstone from 2000 to 2015, researchers affiliated with the park and the National Park Service found that all of the injured people, 21 visitors and 4 employees, were within about 6 meters, or about 20 feet, of the bison before the attack. Four out of five were actively approaching the bison before it charged.
To prevent further incidents, the researchers concluded, it wasn’t enough for parks to educate the public about the dangers of the bison. They must also seek to improve understanding of what motivates people to approach bison, potentially putting themselves in danger.
« National parks are generally safe places and many people visit each year without incident, but visitors need to make themselves aware of the potential dangers, » park officials said in a statement Tuesday.