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Yellowstone bison

A man photographs bison in this Gazette file photo. A Yellowstone bison injured a woman on Tuesday, the fifth injured in the park so far this season.

A Mississippi woman posing for a selfie with a bison in Yellowstone National Park was treated for minor injuries Tuesday after the animal tossed her into the air.

The 42-year-old is the fifth person injured by bison in the park this summer — the third while trying to snap a photo.

The number of injuries this summer are about double the average, said park spokesperson Amy Bartlett.

Tuesday’s incident occurred near the Fairy Falls trailhead after the woman and her daughter decided to take a picture with a bison that was about 6 yards away.

As they turned their backs, someone reportedly yelled that they were too close. They heard the bison’s footsteps as it started to charge, and the mother and daughter ran.

The bison caught the mother on her right side, lifting and tossing her into the air with its head. The woman’s father then reportedly shielded her with his body, and the bison left.

According to the park service, the family drove to Old Faithful Clinic, about 5 miles away, where the woman was treated for minor injuries and released.

The daughter was not injured, Bartlett said.

Old Faithful District Ranger Colleen Rawlings said the family had read the warnings. But they told her they saw other people moving close and thought it would be OK.

“People need to recognize that Yellowstone wildlife is wild, even though they seem docile. This woman was lucky that her injuries were not more severe,” Rawlings said in a press release.

The incident is the latest in a string of bison-related injuries.

A bison gored a 16-year-old Taiwanese exchange student May 15 in the Upper Geyser Basin. The teenager approached the animal and turned her back to have her photo taken. Her injuries were serious but not life-threatening.

On June 2, a bison charged and tossed a 62-year-old Australian man who was attempting to take photos with his tablet. His injuries were deemed serious.

A 19-year-old woman working in Canyon Village was tossed in the air June 23 after coming across a bison near Firehole River. She was taken to a hospital that night and later released with minor injuries.

And a 68-year-old woman was gored July 1 after trying to pass a bison on a trail. She suffered serious injuries, and medical personnel flew her to a hospital outside the park.

On average, the park sees two bison-related injuries a year, Bartlett said. She attributed the jump in part to an increase in the number of visitors, though she said culture plays a part, too.

Many international visitors are not used to being around wild animals, she said. In their countries, they might be accustomed to feeding animals at the zoo.

To help with the cultural barriers, Bartlett said, the park has translated signs and pamphlets into different languages. And it continues to urge people to give wolves and bears a 100-yard berth. Other wild animals should be seen from a distance of at least 25 yards. Bartlett recommended replanning route if an animal enters your area.

Those found willfully approaching wildlife can be cited. The ticket costs visitors $100. Park rangers also have the discretion to mandate a court appearance.

“In light of all these encounters, that’s a good possibility that people are going to get a mandatory appearance in court,” Bartlett said. “It’s not the animal’s fault, it’s their fault. They are responsible for not being too close.”

The maximum penalty is $5,000 or six months in jail, Bartlett said.

None of the people who have been injured so far this season have been cited, she said.

She said that she can’t stress safety enough.

“These animals are wild.”

People need to learn to respect that, she said.

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Lillian Schrock and Tom Dixon contributed to this report.

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