A bull elk bugling in a meadow in the early morning with its breath visible against the darkness of the coniferous trees behind it taken in Jasper National Park
Getty Images, Donna Feledichuk

Why an Arizona Woman Was Fatally Trampled by an Elk in Her Own Backyard

This is the state's first fatal elk attack—and evidence points to a big reason why.

After eight days in a medically induced coma, an Arizona woman has succumbed to injuries thought to have been sustained in an elk attack.

The woman was discovered by her husband on October 26 around 6 p.m., unresponsive, in the couple's backyard in the Pine Lake community in the Hualapai Mountains. Her injuries indicated she'd been trampled by an elk, according to an Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) press release. There were no witnesses, though the husband found a bucket of spilled corn nearby, an indication that she may have attempted to feed the animal.

The victim was taken via ambulance to the Kingman Regional Medical Center and transferred to Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, where doctors kept her in a medically-induced coma on account of the extent of her injuries.

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The attack was reported to the AZGFD the following day by a Pine Lake resident. An AZGFD officer went out to the community on the October 28 to hang warning signs on residents' doors, urging residents not to approach or feed elk. Officers also spoke with her husband and neighbors, who reported seeing many elk in the area.

Upon the woman's reported death, officials added additional roadside warning signs telling people to stay away from elk. The woman was the first fatality recorded in the state, though officials said there have been five attacks over the last five years. The biggest source of conflict with wildlife has come from people attempting to feed these enormous wild animals.

"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," the AZGFD said in the press release. "Feeding puts at risk the person doing the feeding, their neighbors, and the wildlife itself. Please do not feed wildlife."

READ MORE: What to Do If You Encounter an Elk, Moose, or Other Large Hoofed Animal