Theodore Roosevelt National Park officials confirmed Sunday that a 17-year-old visitor from Colorado was gored by a bison bull Saturday morning at the South Unit of the park.
The teen was gored in the back of the upper right thigh and tossed 6 feet into the air, said Eileen Andes, public information officer for the park. When responders arrived at the scene, the teen was conscious but lying down with a "significant injury" to the back of the upper right thigh.
The teen was treated at the scene and later airlifted to a Bismarck hospital. The teen was reported to be in stable condition, according to a news release Andes issued Sunday night.
Park staff learned of the incident about 11:30 a.m. Mountain time on Saturday at the Lower Paddock Creek Trail near the Halliday Well trailhead.
A witness said the teen was walking along the trail while a herd of bison was nearby. Two bulls had been fighting and were on either side of the trail when the teen walked between them, according to park officials.
"National parks are pretty safe places, but visitors are responsible for their own safety," Andes said.
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Bison are currently in rutting season, making the bulls more aggressive than usual. It is normal for male bison to fight each other during rutting season.
The park requires visitors stay at least 25 yards away from any large wildlife in the park.
"To put that in perspective, think of it in terms of a full-size bus. Two full-sized buses between you and an animal is a good distance," Andes said.
This is the second goring in about three years at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
"Considering how many bison we have and how many visitors we have, we have relatively few incidents," Andes said.