Yellowstone bison warning

An inglorious and painful, though hallmark, sign of Northwestern Wyoming summer passed by over the weekend near the shoreline of Yellowstone Lake.

The unfortunate, typically annual event that unfolded was a Yellowstone National Park tourist being gored by a bison. Details of the Sunday afternoon incident are sparse, but Public Affairs Officer Linda Veress confirmed over email that a 30-year-old female from Ann Arbor, Michigan, was hiking with a partner on the Storm Point Trail when there was a wildlife interaction that turned dangerous.

“We’re not clear how the encounter with the bison occurred,” Veress wrote in an email. “The female sustained significant injuries and was flown to Eastern Idaho Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho.”

There is no more information available about the incident, she said.

Although it’s unclear what led to the goring, oftentimes incidents with bison that don’t work out favorably for Yellowstone visitors are precipitated by people getting way too close. Park regulations demand that visitors keep at least 25 yards away from bison, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, deer and coyotes, and 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

“If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity,” Veress wrote in the email.

Bison are wild and unpredictable animals that can respond aggressively to threats, and when perturbed by a person they’ll paw at the ground, snort, bob their head, bellow and raise their tail.

Of course, tourists don’t always buy into the park’s guidance or heed bison warning signs. And sometimes, they get charged — or worse.

Veress wasn’t privy to the nature of the Michigan woman’s injuries but pointed out that they were severe enough that she had to be airlifted to a hospital.

Yellowstone typically sees one or two bison gorings a year, park officials have told the Jackson Hole Daily in the past. But that’s the average, and there have been unusually goring-filled years, like 2015, when five visitors were injured by bison by mid-July.

Sunday’s run-in that left the Michigan woman battered and hospitalized was the first bison goring that Veress had heard of in 2021. And considering the record-shattering tourism numbers that Yellowstone is experiencing, the park actually appears to be doing pretty well.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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