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Mercury seems to be in retrograde over at Yellowstone National Park…
The national park that spans three states in the Western US (Wyoming, Idaho and Montana), and whose famous natural features like the geyser Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring attract more than four million visitors per year is having some bizarre episodes as the nature reserve enters peak tourist season.
Park officials said in a statement that in little over a month, at least four people have been injured by wild animals that roam the reserve.
The first incident occurred on Sunday, when 51-year-old Charlene Triplett, an off-duty worker at a hotel inside Yellowstone, was kicked repeatedly in the legs, head, torso and back by an elk protecting a nearby calf.
Next, 53-year-old Penny Allyson Behr was walking in between two cabins in Yellowstone when she unexpectedly crossed paths with an elk with a nearby calf. She attempted to back away, but the elk kicked her in the head and torso as well.
Calving season for elk in Yellowstone starts in late May and runs through mid-to-late-June and makes the animals extra aggressive.
Then, on Wednesday, 59-year-old Kim Hancock was gored by a bison when she got too close for comfort to the animal at Fountain Paint Pot in the park’s Lower Geyser Basin. Hancock and a group of people got within 10 yards of the bison, which became agitated, charging the crowd and goring Hancock in the hip (She is in good condition at a nearby hospital).
“Animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable, no matter how calm they appear to be. Give animals space when they’re near trails, boardwalks, parking lots, or in developed areas,” the park said in a statement. Park officials recommend staying at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all other animals, including bison and elk.
And it’s not only the animals that are acting up this summer at Yellowstone. The park’s Steamboat Geyser has erupted eight times since March 2018— that’s more eruptions than in the past 15 years combined. Scientists are unsure what is causing the eruptions. The geyser, which is the tallest in the world, erupted four times alone in the month of May, so University of Utah scientists installed a portable seismic array around the spring in hopes of gathering data to help reveal how intermittent geysers work, according to the USGS.
Half of Yellowstone’s visitors visit the park in June, July and August. So, if you’re heading to Yellowstone this summer, proceed with caution and keep in mind you’re in the wildlife’s territory. You can also review the park’s general safety tips here.
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