An 83-year-old woman was seriously injured at Yellowstone National Park over the weekend after park rangers say she was gored by a bison that was “defending its space.”

Park officials said the incident happened on Saturday. The woman, visiting the park from Greenville, South Carolina, was near the Storm Point Trail at Yellowstone Lake when the bison — defending its territory — came "within a few feet of the woman" and then "lifted her about a foot off the ground with its horns," rangers said on Monday.

The woman was taken to a nearby hospital before she was flown by medical helicopter to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.

Park rangers did not disclose any other information about the incident or the woman's condition, but rangers said the incident serves as a reminder about safety around wildlife.

"It's your responsibility to respect safety regulations and view wildlife from a safe distance," park rangers wrote in a statement on Monday. "Move away from wildlife if they approach you."

They said bison account for more visitor injuries than any other species at the park.

That's not a surprise because animals like bison and moose also account for many wildlife injuries in Utah, according to Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokeswoman Faith Heaton Jolley. Bison aren't as prevalent in Utah as Yellowstone, but there are still an estimated 500 to 700 bison at Antelope Island State Park and she said the agency has responded to a few similar incidents in recent years.

In most cases, the visitor ends up getting too close to the animal and it triggers an animal response. Jolley said species like bison and moose likely account for more visitor injuries because people feel less intimidated by them than predator species like cougars or bears.

"People see it and are like, 'That's not a predator so it's fine and it's safe.' And, in reality, both bison and moose can be really, really aggressive," she said. "They're big and bison can gore you and moose can stomp and trample you — so we've seen significant injuries from both of these animals."

A bison at Antelope Island, Aug. 14, 2023. The island is home to between 500 and 700 bison. | Carter Williams,

These types of attacks usually happen this time of the year, largely because it's when people are more likely to travel to national parks, state parks or other wild spaces where they may interact with wildlife.

As such, both the National Park Service, Utah Division of State Parks and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources have tips for people to stay safe around bison and other wildlife:

  • Give animals space. Stay at least 75 feet away from all large animals and at least 300 feet from predator species like bears, wolves and cougars. Double that distance if you still feel too close.
  • Back away or go in the other direction if a bison stops what it is doing and starts paying attention to you. That typically means you are too close.
  • If a bison is standing in the middle of a road, wait for it to pass. Don't get out of your vehicle.
  • If a bison is standing on the side of a road, drive slowly past it but stay inside your vehicle.
  • Don't walk across any rangeland to get closer to a bison. Take photos from a safe distance.
  • It is OK to go off a trail if a large animal is close to it. Safety always comes first.

More wildlife safety and education tips can be found on a website that the state created in partnership with Utah’s Hogle Zoo and Utah State University-Extension.