A violent bison attack resulted in an unidentified 55-year-old woman being flown by helicopter to hospital at Theodore Roosevelt National Park on Monday, May 18th.
According to a press release issued by the National Park Service, the woman was injured by the bison bull while hiking in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The Watford City resident was negotiating a bend on the Buckhorn Trail between 2:30 and 3:00 p.m., when she unknowingly came within 10 to 15 feet of the bull who was near the trail.
The bull charged the woman, striking her in the face and knocking her down.
The aggregated bison hovered near the woman even as she called 911. A responding US Park Ranger discovered the woman and noted that the bull would not disengage or leave the area remaining near the woman. As the bison continued to show increasing signs of aggression and was not responsive to hazing measures, the ranger took life saving measures by shooting the animal.
Park staff, McKenzie County Sheriff’s Deputies and McKenzie Country Emergency Medical Services immediately began rendering aid to the patient who was subsequently transported by helicopter to Minot for further medical care.
According to the release, the woman was later released from the hospital suffering from a broken vertebrae and multiple facial fractures which will require additional medical attention at a later date.
Park staff remind the public that bison are large, powerful and fast-moving wildlife and while appearing docile, are in fact wild animals and may be startled by humans — especially when suddenly encountered at close range. Park regulations require that visitors stay at least 25 yards away from large animals such as bison, elk, deer, and horses.
Last year’s bison attack on a 17-year-old teenager at the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park drew national attention but is a rare occurrence, considering the number of bison in the park and visitors each year, a park's spokeswoman said.
The park had 755,967 visitors in 2018 and is home to more than 700 bison at the North Unit and South Unit, Eileen Andes, the park's chief of interpretation, said.
In last year’s attack, the teen victim was walking along the Lower Paddock Creek Trail near a large herd of bison when she unknowingly passed between two bulls which had been fighting earlier. One of them charged and struck the teen in the back, goring into the back of the teen’s thigh and tossing the teen 6 feet in the air.
Another incident in 2017 resulted in the goring of a 51-year old Mississippi man hiking the Buckhorn Trail who stopped to take photos of the sunset. The man encountered a bison and despite giving the bull a wide berth was charged and gored when the flash of the camera startled the animal.
Park regulations require visitors to stay at least 25 yards away from large wildlife, including bison. Andes that the 2017 attack resulted in a review of the park’s signage and warnings about the dangers of approaching wild animals.
More more information about the Theodore Roosevelt National Park guidelines and rules, visit nps.gov.