Woman, 72, harassed by bison in Yellowstone after getting too close to take photos, Park says

A 72-year-old California woman trying to take photos of a bison was harassed by the animal in Yellowstone National Park, park officials said Monday.

The woman, who was not identified by the park, “suffered multiple running injuries” and was rushed to an Idaho hospital on Thursday, the National Park Service said. Requests for more details about the woman’s condition were not immediately answered Monday night.

She “approached within 10 feet of a bison multiple times to take her photo,” the park service said in a statement.

The bison likely felt threatened after being repeatedly tackled, Yellowstone senior bison biologist Chris Geremia said in the statement.

The park urges people to stay away from wildlife and 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.

A bison grazes in Yellowstone National Park near Gardiner, Mont., On March 9, 2016.Matthew Brown / AP file

“Bison are wild animals that respond to threats by displaying aggressive behaviors such as kicking the ground, snorting, shaking their heads, bellowing and raising their tails,” Geremia said in the statement. “If that doesn’t make the threat (in this case it was a person) go away, a threatened bison can charge.”

The incident occurred at the women’s camp at Bridge Bay Camp, on the northwest side of Yellowstone Lake.

Bison attacks on humans have occurred in Yellowstone before, including last month. They are massive animals, and bull bison can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. A bison can run at speeds of up to 35 mph, the park says.

In May, a visitor was shot down by a bison after getting too close to the Old Faithful upper geyser basin, the park said at the time. The visitor refused transportation to a medical center.

That incident occurred when Yellowstone was conducting a gradual reopening after being closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In July 2019, a 9-year-old girl was thrown into the air by a bison bull in the park when the animal attacked a group of people who had approached within 5 to 10 feet of the animal. She was treated in a clinic and released.

Yellowstone, an estimated 3,472 square miles in three states, though most of it located in Wyoming, has been known for its wildlife, and the park says it preserves the largest herd of bison 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 sustained a minor injury after being knocked down by a female brown bear in Yellowstone, the park said.

The woman was walking 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 that no action would be taken against the bear. Park officials recommend walking 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 of them are designated national parks.

Yellowstone is the first to be designated a national park, and that designation occurred in 1872.

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