An injured coyote bit a 43-year-old woman cross-country skiing near the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on Tuesday morning, according to a Yellowstone National Park press release.
Park staff temporarily closed the road where the incident occurred, then positively identified and killed the coyote. The coyote is being necropsied and will be tested for rabies.
Park dispatch received a call about the incident in the Canyon Village area, which is only accessible in winter via over-the-snow vehicles, on Jan. 28 at about 9:50 a.m. The woman was cross-country skiing on the Grand Loop Road near the South Rim Drive.
Witnesses took the injured woman to the Canyon Visitor Education Center where rangers provided initial treatment for puncture wounds and lacerations to her head and arm. Rangers then transported her to Mammoth Hot Springs. From there she continued on to a hospital.
“Encounters like these are rare, but they can happen,” said wildlife biologist Doug Smith. “We suspect this coyote may have been starving due to having porcupine quills in its lower jaw and inside its mouth. Its young age likely led to its poor condition and irregular behavior.”
The incident prompted park officials to remind visitors that wildlife in Yellowstone National Park can be unpredictable. Tourists are urged to be aware of their surroundings and to never feed wildlife. Animals that become dependent on human food may become aggressive toward people and have to be killed.
All food, garbage, or other smelly items should be packed away when not in use. Visitors are required to stay 25 yards away from all large animals — bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.