A 51-year-old woman sustained serious injuries Sunday when attacked by a cow elk protecting its calf behind the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel in Yellowstone National Park.
The victim, identified as Charlene Triplett from Las Vegas, Nev., is an employee of the hotel but was off duty at the time of the incident, according to a park news release Monday.
“The elk reportedly reared up and kicked Ms. Triplett multiple times with its front legs, hitting her head, torso and back,” the park reported.
It wasn’t known if prior to the attack Triplett saw the elk or was aware of the nearby calf that was bedded down 20 feet away and hidden by cars.
Because of the extent of her injuries, Triplett was flown to the trauma center at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. Her condition was unknown.
Park rangers remained in the area to warn others about the presence of the elk and calf. No citation was issued, the park said.
“Use caution around elk, especially during calving season,” the park urged. “Always remain at least 25 yards away from these animals.”
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is located near the northern edge of the park, just south of the Wyoming-Montana border.
Triplett is the second person to be injured by an animal at the park this spring. Last month, a bison butted a woman in the thigh after she encountered the animal on a trail in the Old Faithful area. The woman, who suffered minor injuries, did not see the bison as she walked around a bend in the trail.
Generic photo of cow elk and its calf in the Mammoth Hot Springs area of Yellowstone is courtesy of the National Park Service.