A grizzly bear attacked and injured a 10-year-old boy on Thursday morning in Yellowstone National Park.
The Washington state family was hiking along the Divide Trail, located southeast of the Old Faithful geyser, when a mother grizzly bear charged out of the forest toward them in defense of her cub. According to the National Park Service, the boy ran away from the charging animal but was injured when the bear chased him and knocked him over.
The young boy “suffered an injured wrist, puncture wounds to the back and wounds to the buttocks,” the statement said. The parents of the child used bear spray to drive the animal away, officials said. When sprayed, the bear shook her head and left the scene.
“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,” Pat Kenney, Yellowstone National Park deputy superintendent, was quoted in a statement.
After the attack, the family hiked back to the trail head they started at and drove to a ranger station at Old Faithful, the rangers there directed the family to a close clinic, according to USA Today.
After the clinic saw the young boy, they transferred him to a hospital in Big Sky, Montana, for further treatment. Park officials wished the family’s son a “full recovery from his injuries,” in a statement.
After the incident, officials searched the area finding tracks which indicate the grizzly bear was with at least one cub and likely feeding next to the trail, officials said. Because the attack was a surprise encounter due to the female bear defending her cub, park rangers and officials do not plan on searching for the bear.
All of Yellowstone National Park is a bear habitat, according to officials, and hikers must be prepared for bear encounters no matter where they go. Park officials recommend hikers carry bear spray, stay alert, make noise and hike in groups of three or more for safety.
If charged by a bear, officials say hikers standing their ground is the safest option. Although officials say an average of one bear attack per year occurs within the park, this was the first incident reported since 2015.
Although three people were killed by bears inside Yellowstone National Park in 2011 and 2015, the National Park Service says more people die by drowning or suffering thermal burns from hot springs, than bear attacks.