SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - A Yellowstone National Park visitor was gored this week as she tried to snap a selfie photo close to one of the park’s famed bison, the fifth attack on a tourist who has ignored warnings to admire the mammals from afar, officials said on Thursday.
The 43-year-old Mississippi woman and her daughter were standing with their back to a bison when it charged on Tuesday, tossing her into the air and inflicting minor injuries, Yellowstone spokeswoman Amy Bartlett said.
She was the fifth Yellowstone visitor since May to be gored by one of the park’s popular bison, which can weigh as much as a ton, and the third tourist seeking to take a picture of a buffalo while crowding too close.
The millions of tourists who visit the park annually are warned when they enter Yellowstone, by handouts, signs and orally to keep a distance of at least 25 yards (meters) from bison and to give even more berth to creatures such as grizzly bears, said Bartlett.
Yet the message is clearly not getting through to some individuals who flock to a park that spans more than 3,400 square miles (8,800 sq km) of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
“People are not taking to heart that these are wild animals that are unpredictable and can be dangerous,” Bartlett said.
The park’s roughly 4,000 buffalo are generally uninterested in the activities of visitors while seeking prime grazing lands that can be close to hiking trails, roads, buildings and parking lots, leading some tourists to incorrectly conclude that the shaggy, hump-backed creatures are approachable, she said.
Four of the five goring incidents required hospitalization and advanced medical care, Bartlett said.
The first bison-human encounter of the season happened in May and was directed at a teen Taiwanese exchange student as she sought to take a photo of a buffalo that ultimately charged.
Two women from Georgia were gored in separate incidents in late June and early July after wandering near buffalo and an Australian man was tossed multiple times in the air on June 2 while seeking to use his electronic notepad to photograph a bison, Bartlett said.
Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho; Editing by Eric M. Johnson and Sandra Maler
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