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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Yellowstone bison gores 83-year-old while ‘defending its space,’ park says

By Leo Sands Washington Post

An 83-year-old woman was seriously injured after being gored by a bison at Yellowstone National Park and lifted into the air by its horns, officials said.

The bison attacked her near the Storm Point Trail at Yellowstone Lake on Saturday, the National Park Service said in a Monday statement, adding that the animal was “defending its space.”

The bison “came within a few feet of the woman and lifted her about a foot off the ground with its horns,” it said.

The victim from Greenville, South Carolina, who was not named, was transported to Lake Medical Clinic and then flown by helicopter to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, according to the Park Service. The statement added that officials are investigating the incident.

Neither the Park Service nor the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center responded to a request early Tuesday for more information.

The Park Service statement reiterated guidance urging visitors to stay at least 25 yards away from large animals, including bison, at all times, and at least 100 yards from bears and wolves.

“Bison are not aggressive animals but will defend their space when threatened,” park officials cautioned after the latest goring. “They are unpredictable and can run three times faster than humans.” The Park Service advises that the safest way to view Yellowstone’s wildlife is from inside a car.

According to the park, bison have injured more people in Yellowstone than any other animal. Last year, a woman was gored by a bison near the northern shore of Yellowstone Lake. Officials said she was walking away from two of the animals when one charged and inflicted “serious injuries to her chest and abdomen.”

The year before, two other Yellowstone visitors were attacked by bison within weeks of each other. In May 2022, a 25-year-old woman was gored by a female bison and tossed 10 feet into the air after she approached the animal near the Old Faithful geyser, park officials said; she suffered a puncture wound and other injuries. The following month, a 34-year-old man from Colorado Springs was walking with his family on a boardwalk near Giant Geyser when a bull bison charged the group and the family did not leave the area, park officials said. The man was gored by the bull and suffered an arm injury, it said.

According to the Park Service, Yellowstone was home to a population of nearly 5,000 bison in 2023 – 10 times its population in 1970.

Bison are the largest land mammals in North America, with male bulls weighing up to 2,000 pounds and female cows up to 1,000. They can run at speeds up to 35 miles per hour, swim, spin, and jump over 5-foot fences.

As recently as two centuries ago, bison dominated the North American continent in their millions. As the United States pushed westward in the 19th century, however, European colonizers massacred the animals in their thousands as a sport, for their pelts and in an attempt to starve Indigenous tribes and push them off their ancestral homes.

Yellowstone is the only place in the United States where bison have lived without interruption since prehistoric times, according to the Department of the Interior.

Park officials also urge visitors against going off-trail to explore Yellowstone’s geological thermal areas. Despite warnings that the ground beneath hot springs is fragile and that scalding thermal springs pose burn risks to curious hands, visitors have repeatedly ignored signs warning them against testing the waters, with many burned or injured as a result.