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Woman dies in what is believed to be Arizona’s first fatal elk attack, officials say


By Macie Goldfarb, CNN

(CNN) —  An Arizona woman died eight days after an elk apparently trampled her outside her home in what is believed to be the state’s first fatal elk attack on a person, wildlife officials said Tuesday.

On October 26 at about 6 p.m., the woman’s husband arrived at their property in the Pine Lake community in the Hualapai Mountains to find her “on the ground in the backyard with injuries consistent with being trampled by an elk,” the Arizona Game and Fish Department said.

The man also noticed that a bucket of corn had been spilled nearby, the department said.

The man called 911, and his wife was transported to Kingman Regional Medical Center and then to Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas. The husband told officers his wife had been put into a medically induced coma because of her injuries, according to the department.

The woman passed away on Friday, and the manner of death was determined to be an accident, the Clark County Coroner’s Office told the Kingman Police Department. The names of the woman and her husband have not been released.

The game department learned about the attack from a local resident on October 27, and the next day an officer put door hanger warning signs on homes in the area advising residents not to approach or feed elk, the department said.

The officer going door to door saw elk tracks in the victim’s yard after speaking with her husband and other residents, the game department added.

On Friday, the day the woman died, game officers again went door to door in Pine Lake, putting up hanger warning signs and two roadside signs all advising people not to approach or feed elk, the department said.

Five elk attacks have been reported in Arizona in the last five years, according to game department.

One of the main sources of conflict between people and wild animals is feeding, which causes wildlife to become habituated to humans, the department said. It cited an incident in 2015, when two children were injured when an elk circled their family’s picnic table while they were eating in the Hualapai Mountains. It also cited an incident in 2021, when a woman suffered serious head injuries from an elk “that was habituated to humans” in Pine Lake.

A Utah State University study published in 2019 said information about the number of people in the US injured by “free-ranging herbivores,” such as elk, is scarce. The study found three documented non-fatal injuries to humans by elk in the US in 2018, all of which happened at Yellowstone National Park. The park is mostly in Wyoming but also spreads into parts of Montana and Idaho.

“The public is urged to help keep wildlife wild,” the Arizona game department said. “Wildlife that are fed by people, or that get food sources from items such as unsecured garbage or pet food, lose their natural fear of humans and become dependent on unnatural food sources. Feeding puts at risk the person doing the feeding, their neighbors, and the wildlife itself. Please do not feed wildlife.”

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