Skier Bit by Coyote in Yellowstone

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Coyote, Hayden Valley. Photo by NPS / Neal Herbert

UPDATE– According to Yellowstone National Park, the coyote tested negative for rabies. This information was released Thursday morning.

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY – On Tuesday, January 28, at approximately 9:50 a.m., park dispatch received a call that a coyote bit a woman in the Canyon Village area. The individual was cross-country skiing on the Grand Loop Road near the South Rim Drive when the incident occurred.

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 transported her to Mammoth Hot Springs by over-snow vehicle, and then she continued on to a medical facility.

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Park staff temporarily closed the road, then positively identified and killed the coyote. The coyote is being necropsied and will be tested 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.

Wildlife 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 (23 m) away from all large animals – bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves.

Read more about safety in the park, including how to behave around wildlife.