The incident happened on June 25 near a camp site at the park, according to a news release from the U.S. National Parks Service (NPS).
The 72-year-old woman from California approached “within 10 feet of a bison multiple times” to take her photo, park officials said. The bison eventually charged her.
“The series of events that led to the goring suggest the bison was threatened by being repeatedly approached to within 10 feet,” said Chris Geremia, Yellowstone’s senior bison biologist. “Bison are wild animals that respond to threats by displaying aggressive behaviours like pawing the ground, snorting, bobbing their head, bellowing and raising their tail. If that doesn’t make the threat (in this instance it was a person) move away, a threatened bison may charge.”
In other words, the woman wasn’t picking up the bison’s hints that it wanted to be left alone.
Park rangers provided first aid to the victim and she was later airlifted to a hospital in Idaho via helicopter. An investigation is currently underway.
Bison have been known to charge tourists in the past, especially when people stray from designated paths through the park. An adult bull bison can weigh up to 907 kilograms (one ton).
An angry bison tossed a nine-year-old girl through the air in an encounter caught on video last summer near the Old Faithful Geyser. Witnesses said the girl was in a group of people who tried feeding and petting the bison. She was treated for her injuries and released later that day.
Last week’s incident is just the latest in a string of tourists mishaps at the park, which is operating at limited capacity due to the novel coronavirus.
The park was closed from March 24 until May 18, but that didn’t stop one tourist from sneaking in and falling into a thermal feature in mid-May. That woman was also trying to get the perfect photo, park officials said at the time.
She was burned by hot water and gas after her fall and had to drive approximately 80 kilometres to get help.
Park officials recommend that tourists stay at least 23 metres away from large animals in the park and that visitors stay on designated paths — even if it means sacrificing a great selfie opportunity.