A woman is recovering in an Idaho hospital from significant injuries suffered during an encounter with a bison at Yellowstone National Park.
The 30-year-old woman was hiking with another person on Storm Point Trail on the northern end of Yellowstone Lake on Sunday when the encounter took place, a Yellowstone spokesperson told the Billings Gazette.
“We’re not clear how the encounter with the bison occurred,” Linda Veres, a public information specialist, told the Gazette.
She added that officials do not have any photos or video of the incident, which resulted in the woman being airlifted to Eastern Idaho Medical Center in Idaho Falls.
Bison In Yellowstone
While officials have yet to figure out what happened in this case, injuries caused by encounters with bison are nothing new in Yellowstone. In fact, bison account for more injuries to tourists than any other animal.
A 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention verified that fact, noting bison was the top offender since 1980. From 1983 to 1985, there were 33 bison-related injuries in the park. In 2015, there were five injuries in a less than three-month span.
Park officials said incidents with bison usually occur when tourists or hikers get too close to the animals, either on purpose or by accident. Veres said when a wild animal of any type is near a campsite, trail, boardwalk, or parking lot, people should give it plenty of room.
Park officials recommend staying at least 25 yards away from bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes, and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves. They also recommend turning around and going the other way to create further distance. Despite their size, many of these animals are extremely fast and can catch a human quickly if threatened.
Bison are the largest mammal in North America. Males can stand 6 feet tall and weigh up to 2,000 pounds, while females are 4 to 5 feet tall and weigh 1,000 pounds. As of 2015, officials estimated a population of 4,900 bison in Yellowstone, the only location where bison have continuously lived since prehistoric times.
Should you encounter a bison, experts recommend not making eye contact and to watch its tail. If a bison’s tail is hanging down and twitching, the animal is generally calm. If the tail is standing straight up, it may be ready to charge.