72-Year-Old Woman Gored by Bison While Trying to Snap a Picture

A woman visiting Yellowstone was gored by a bison while attempting to take its photograph.

The 72-year-old parkgoer from California was camping at Bridge Bay on the shores of Yellowstone Lake when she repeatedly approached within 10 feet of a bison, until the animal charged and gored her. Yellowstone National Park released details of the June 25 incident in a Monday news release.

"The series of events that led to the goring suggest the bison was threatened by being repeatedly approached to within 10 feet," Yellowstone Senior Bison Biologist Chris Geremia said, in comments released by the park. "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. If that doesn't make the threat (in this instance it was a person) move away, a threatened bison may charge. To be safe around bison, stay at least 25 yards away, move away if they approach, and run away or find cover if they charge."

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A Yellowstone bison grazes in the park's Hayden Valley in Wyoming. Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images

After rangers provided first aid care on the scene, the woman was helicoptered to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, where she was treated for multiple goring wounds.

"Wildlife in Yellowstone National Park are wild," the park service warned.

In response to the attack Yellowstone National Park released guidance asking parkgoers to "give it space" when an animal is near campsites, trails, parking lots or other park areas. For bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose and coyotes, Yellowstone recommends maintaining a distance of more than 25 yards. Even more caution should be taken near bears and wolves: stay at least 100 yards away.

"If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity," the park advises.

Approximately 4,900 bison live in Yellowstone, descendants from 23 bison who escaped the species' near-extinction in the 1880s in the park's Pelican Valley. In the early 20th century, local and introduced bison stock were managed similar to livestock, but since the 1960s the population has grown enough to be wild and free-ranging within the park.

This is the second time a person has been charged by a bison in Yellowstone National Park in 2020, after a May incident where a woman followed a bison too closely and was knocked to the ground—just two days after the park reopened from coronavirus closure. The National Park Service recorded ten additional bison incidents since 2016, including a 2019 encounter where a nine-year-old girl was tossed in the air when a bison charged a group of 50 people near the Old Faithful geyser.

Yellowstone National Park also asked people to consider the "Yellowstone Pledge," by which visitors promise to "act responsibly and safely, set a good example for others, and share my love of the park and all the things that make it special."

According to the park's news release, the Thursday incident is still under investigation, with no additional information to be released at this time.