Cow Elk standing alert in meadow
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A woman was attacked by a cow elk on Sunday behind a hotel in Yellowstone National Park.

Charlene Triplett, an employee at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins, was off duty when she came across the elk. According to a statement issued by the park, the wild animal was protecting a calf approximately 20 feet away from the hotel. Both were hidden by cars, and it is unknown whether Triplette saw them coming before the attack.

The elk kicked Triplett several times, severely injuring her head, torso, and back, the statement said. She was flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center’s trauma center for treatment.

According to the Yellowstone National Park Lodges website, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins has been giving guests the “opportune chance of spotting elk grazing outside the hotel” since it first opened in 1936.

Rangers in the park have since been warning visitors about the elk and calf. Calving season — when calves are born — runs from late May to June, reps for the park wrote in a Facebook post. Because cows are “extremely protective” of their young, Yellowstone advises wildlife lovers to exercise extra caution during this season, and to keep at least 75 feet away from elk at all times.

No citations have been issued.