An Arizona woman was trampled to death by an elk, the first death attributed to the species in the state. The victim, who has yet to be publicly identified, was apparently feeding the animal when the October 26 incident occurred.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department issued a statement confirming the tragedy while urging residents to take more caution around wildlife. By no means, they reiterated, should any human be feeding wild animals.
The victim was found by her husband at their Hualapai Mountains residence sprawled “on the ground in the backyard with injuries consistent with being trampled by an elk.” Near her body was a spilled bucket of corn, which she’d likely been feeding the elk. It’s unclear when exactly the accident occurred.
The patient was first taken to a local hospital before being transported to Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, NV. According to her husband, she was placed in a medical coma due to the extent of her injuries. On November 3, she passed away from her injuries.
“This is believed to be the first fatal elk attack in Arizona,” the AZGFD said in their statement. “There have been five reported elk attacks in the state during the past five years. Feeding is one of the main sources of conflict between humans and wildlife."
AZGFD officers have taken a proactive role in preventing further incidents such as this one. Patrols are going door to door in the area alerting residents to stay away from the elk, and reminding them of the dangers that come with feeding them.
“Fed wildlife becomes habituated to humans,” the statement warned. They detailed similar, though non-fatal, elk attacks in recent history, such as a 2015 incident in which a habituated elk menaced a family for their picnic lunch. In 2021, a local woman survived a serious head injury after a hungry elk turned on her.
“Wildlife that are fed by people, or that get food sources from items such as unsecured garbage or pet food, lose their natural fear of humans and become dependent on unnatural food sources,” the department reminded residents. “Feeding puts at risk the person doing the feeding, their neighbors, and the wildlife itself. Please do not feed wildlife.”
Humans fatally interacting with wildlife has become something of a trend lately. Yellowstone National Park saw a distressing uptick in animal-related incidents over the summer. This included a tourist manhandling a bison calf which subsequently had to be euthanized, as well as a recent incident where an aggressive bison cornered an unwitting park guest in the restroom.