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Woman bit by coyote in Yellowstone National Park

She sustained injuries to her head and arm
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Posted at 11:21 AM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-30 13:46:20-05

A woman was bit by a coyote in Yellowstone National Park on Tuesday, sustaining injuries to her head and arm.

Park officials said in a news release on that on Tuesday, January 28, at about 9:50 a.m., park dispatch received a call that a coyote bit a woman in the Canyon Village area. The woman was cross-country skiing on the Grand Loop Road near the South Rim Drive when it happened.

Witnesses took the 43-year-old woman to the Canyon Visitor Education Center, where rangers provided initial treatment for puncture wounds and lacerations to her head and arm. Rangers then took her to Mammoth Hot Springs by over-snow vehicle, and then she continued on to a medical facility.

Park staff temporarily closed the road, then positively identified and killed the coyote. The coyote is being necropsied and will be tested for rabies. (UPDATE: the coyote tested negative for rabies)

“Encounters like these are rare, but they can happen. 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,” said wildlife biologist Doug Smith.

The Yellowstone National Park website provides this overview of coyotes:

Coyotes are intelligent and adaptable. They can be found throughout North and Central America, thriving in major urban areas as well as in remote wilderness. This adaptability helped coyotes resist widespread efforts early in the 1900s to exterminate them in the West, including Yellowstone National Park, where other mid-size and large carnivores such as cougars and wolves were eradicated. The coyote is a common predator in Greater Yellowstone, often seen traveling through open meadows and valleys.

Size and Behavior

  • Weigh 25–35 pounds, 16–20 inches high at the shoulder.
  • Average life span 6 years; up to 13 years in the park.
  • Home range: 3–15 square miles.
  • Primarily eat voles, mice, rabbits, other small animals, and carrion—and only the very young elk calves in the spring.
  • 4–8 pups are born in April in dens; emerge in May.

Park officials note that animals in Yellowstone National Park are wild and unpredictable. Be aware of your surroundings. Never feed wildlife. Animals that become dependent on human food may become aggressive toward people and have to be killed. Keep all food, garbage, or other smelly items packed away when not in use. 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.