Bison have it in for tourists this summer as two attacks in Wyoming and North Dakota within two days of each other left a pair of women with devastating injuries.
A bison charged and gored a 47-year-old Arizona woman early Monday near Lake Lodge in Yellowstone Park. She suffered severe injuries to her chest and abdomen and was life-flighted to an Idaho hospital. Her name wasn’t released by the National Park Service.
It was the first reported bison attack in Yellowstone this year, and the second in the region.
Another woman suffered ghastly injuries when a bison charged and stomped her at about 11 a.m. Saturday in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, according to reports. That woman’s name also wasn’t released, but she was reported to be in critical and “worsening” condition at the scene before being transferred to a nearby hospital.
Did They Get Too Close?
Details about the attacks were still scarce Tuesday, but there was some indication that the Yellowstone goring might not have been provoked.
The woman was walking with another person in a field near Lake Lodge when they spotted two bison. They immediately turned and started walking the other way, but one of the bison charged and gored the woman, according to the NPS.
The victim in the North Dakota incident was reportedly attacked after she approached a group of bison near the Painted Canyon Nature Trail in Theodore Roosevelt park.
She suffered severe injuries called “degloving,” meaning skin and tissue were torn away from underlying structures such as bone and tendons.
Might Be Because Mating Season
In both cases, authorities said the bison might have been particularly aggressive because they’re in the rut, or mating season.
Bull bison can become combative as they compete for females during the rut. It usually runs from June through September, and peaks in July and August, according to the NPS.
A video taken a couple of years ago by a visitor to Yellowstone highlights the fury of bison bulls during the rut.
Those shooting the video wisely stayed in their vehicle during a “bison jam” that had vehicles backed up in both lanes of a Yellowstone highway.
The larger, meaner bull slams into his opponent, lifting him up off the road and piledriving him into the grass on the far side. The loser appears despondent, but not seriously injured, as the victor struts back across the highway.
The winning bull’s ability to ragdoll another full-grown bison with such ease leaves no doubt about the species’ ability to pulverize a human body.
According to NPS rules, visitors must stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves, and 25 yards away from all other wildlife, including bison.
Mark Heinz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.