A Woman Was “Knocked to the Ground” in a Bison Attack at Yellowstone National Park

Nicol Natale
Photo credit: Seth K. Hughes - Getty Images
Photo credit: Seth K. Hughes - Getty Images

From Prevention

  • Yellowstone National Park reopened on Monday, May 18.

  • A woman was attacked by a bison after approaching the animal too closely on May 20, the National Park Service reported.

  • The NPS did not detail the extent of the woman’s injuries, but she was transported to an emergency medical facility.

Yellowstone National Park reopened this week after being closed to the public since March 24, and let’s just say things are not off to a great start. On Wednesday, the National Park Service (NPS) reported that a woman was injured in a bison attack at the park on May 20. According to the statement, she was “knocked to the ground and injured by a bison in the Old Faithful Upper Geyser Basin after approaching the animal too closely (inside 25 yards).”

The NPS did not detail the extent of the woman’s injuries, but she was transported to a medical facility by emergency services. This was the first bison attack on a visitor at Yellowstone National Park this year—but the park’s site states that bison injure more people than any other animal. They’re unpredictable and shockingly fast (yes, they can run three times faster than you.)

In case you needed a reminder, the NPS says you should never approach or feed wild animals when visiting a park, even if they appear to be calm. Remember: You’re in their territory.

“When an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space,” the statement read. Always keep a 25-yard distance (between you and large animals, including bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes. As for bears and wolves? Get as far away as you can (preferably at least 100 yards).

The news comes just one week after a woman fell into a hot spring after illegally entering the closed park—highlighting the importance of staying on boardwalks and trails in thermal areas.

After reopening on Monday, Yellowstone National Park has outlined a three-phased plan that limits travelers to the lower loop of the park, including Yellowstone Lake, the fishing bridge, and Old Faithful. The south and east entrances are currently open, while the rest remain closed. Visitors also have access to restrooms, gas stations, trails, boardwalks and other Phase 1 facilities at this time.

During the first week of Yellowstone National Park’s reopening, thousands of visitors headed to the park, traveling from outside of Wyoming, The Guardian reported. “We checked the webcam at Old Faithful at about 3:30 p.m. yesterday,” Kristin Brengel, the senior vice-president of government affairs at the National Parks Conservation Association, told Guardian reporters. “Not much physical distancing happening and not a single mask in sight.”

In their statement, the NPS said they will “actively monitor changing conditions” and will modify their safety standards and restrictions as needed.

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