GREAT FALLS – A woman sustained what are described as serious injuries when she was attacked by an elk in Yellowstone National Park on Sunday, June 3rd.
According to a press release from the park, the woman, identified as 51-year old Charlene Triplett, was attacked by a cow elk behind the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.
The elk was protecting a calf bedded down roughly 20 feet away and hidden by other cars. The elk reportedly reared up and kicked Triplett several times with its front legs, hitting her head, torso, and back.
Due to the severity of her injuries, Triplett was flown to the trauma center at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
Triplett, an employee at the hotel, was off-duty at the time of the incident. It’s not yet known if she saw the calf or the elk prior to the encounter. No citations have been issued.
Rangers remained in the area to warn others about the elk and calf.
The elk and calf soon left the area; park rangers say the animals will be left alone.
Yellowstone officials advise that people use caution around elk, especially during calving season: always remain at least 25 yards (23 meters) away from these animals.
This is the second time in several weeks that a person has been injured by an animal in Yellowstone. On May 1, a woman from Idaho was butted in the thigh, pushed, and tossed off a trail by a bison in the Old Faithful area of Yellowstone National Park. The woman in that case did not see the bison as she walked around a bend in the trail and wasn’t able to move away before the animal dropped its head and pushed her off the trail. Park rangers responded to the incident and treated Junk’s minor injuries. Junk was taken by ambulance to Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg, Idaho. No citations were issued.
Animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable, no matter how calm they appear to be. When an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space. Always stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards away from all other animals, including bison and elk. If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity.
Reporting by David Sherman for MTN News