Visitor Injured by Bison at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

This news story is based on a press release from the National Park Service, which was issued on July 18, 2023. You can read the original release here. A female visitor from Minnesota suffered a severely injured after being attacked by a bison at Painted Canyon in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. She was promptly taken to a hospital in Dickinson and is currently in serious but stable condition.

Park officials extend their heartfelt wishes to her and her family for a swift recovery. The incident, which occurred at the Painted Canyon Trailhead, is under investigation, and specific details are yet to be determined. It is important to remember that bison are large and wild animals with the ability to move quickly. During the rutting season from mid-July to August, bull bison can display aggression.

Visitors should exercise caution, maintain a safe distance of at least 25 yards from large animals, and promptly change direction to avoid any close encounters. While national parks are generally safe, visitors must be mindful of potential risks. Park staff are available to assist with trip planning, and detailed safety information can be found on the park’s website:

Wildlife Safety

When visiting national parks, it’s important to remember that wildlife is wild and unpredictable. Maintain a safe distance and never approach or feed animals. Keep food securely stored to prevent attracting wildlife. Follow park regulations and stay on designated trails. If you encounter a wild animal, give it space and never try to pet or interact with it. Remember, your safety and the well-being of the animals are top priorities.

US National Park Wildlife Safety Guidelines

  1. Maintain a safe distance: Keep at least 25 yards (the length of two full-sized buses) away from large animals such as bison, elk, deer, pronghorn, and horses.
  2. Do not approach or feed wildlife: Avoid any interactions or attempts to feed animals as it can disrupt their natural behavior and pose risks to both humans and wildlife.
  3. Store food securely: Properly store food and garbage in bear-resistant containers or lockers to prevent attracting wildlife.
  4. Stay on designated trails: Follow park guidelines and stay on designated trails to minimize disturbance to wildlife habitats.
  5. Observe from a safe distance: Use binoculars or telephoto lenses for closer views of wildlife instead of getting too close.
  6. Do not disturb nests or dens: Respect wildlife homes and do not disturb nests, dens, or other natural shelters.
  7. Follow seasonal guidelines: Be aware of specific regulations during rutting season or other wildlife-related events when animals may be more aggressive or sensitive.
  8. Do not attempt to pet or touch wildlife: Maintain a respectful distance and never try to touch, pet, or approach wildlife, even if they appear docile.
  9. Report any wildlife incidents: If there is an encounter or incident involving wildlife, report it to park authorities for safety and conservation purposes.
  10. Stay informed: Seek information and guidance from park staff, visitor centers, or park websites to stay updated on wildlife safety regulations and recommendations specific to the national park you are visiting.

National Parks List, Map, and Complete Guide (All 63 Parks + Downloadable List & Map)

Want a complete list and recap of all our US National Parks as well as downloadable maps and other great resources, check out our US National Parks List and Map guide!