A 10-year-old boy from Washington state was reportedly attacked and injured by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park on Thursday morning.
Park officials say the boy and his family were a half-mile up the Divide Trail, southeast of Old Faithful, when a female grizzly charged out of vegetation toward the four family members. The boy ran away and the bear chased after him, reportedly knocking the child to the ground.
The boy’s parents then deployed bear spray about 5 feet from the bruin’s face and “the bear shook its head and left the area,” Yellowstone officials said in a news release. The incident occurred around 10 a.m.
The boy suffered an injured wrist, puncture wounds to his back and wounds around his rear end, the release said. After walking back to the trailhead, the family took the boy to the at Old Faithful area. He was later transferred to a hospital in Big Sky, Montana.
Law enforcement and bear management staff responded immediately responded to the area. From tracks and other indications at the scene, park officials concluded that the grizzly appeared to have been foraging near the trail with at least one of her cubs.
"Park rangers do not intend to search for the bear since this incident was a surprise encounter with a female grizzly bear defending its cub," Yellowstone officials said in a Friday update.
The Divide Trail and nearby Spring Creek Trail have been temporarily closed while officials inspect them for recent bear activity.
“This incident could have been more serious. We applaud the family for traveling in a group, carrying bear spray and knowing how to effectively use it during their emergency,” said Yellowstone National Park Deputy Superintendent Pat Kenney. “We wish their son a full recovery from his injuries.”
In the release, Yellowstone officials noted that bears can be found in any part of the park, “from the deepest backcountry to the boardwalks around Old Faithful.”
“Please prepare for bear encounters no matter where you go. Reduce your risk of a bear encounter by carrying bear spray. Be alert, make noise, hike in groups of three or more, do not run if you encounter a bear and stand your ground if charged by a bear,” the release advised.
Thursday’s incident marked the first reported bear attack in the park since 2015. Yellowstone averages about one bear attack per year, park officials said.