Eight days after being trampled in her backyard by an aggressive elk, an Arizona woman has died from her injuries, the Arizona Game and Fish Department reported Tuesday.
The victim, who remains unidentified at this time, was alone at her home in the unincorporated community of Pine Lake in the Hualapai Mountains on Oct. 26 while her husband was in nearby Kingman. When he returned home around 6 p.m., he found his wife lying in the backyard with serious injuries. A bucket of spilled dried corn lay nearby. While no one witnessed what happened to the woman, he deduced that an elk had struck and trampled her. It remains unknown whether the elk was a bull or a cow.
He called emergency services and the woman was transported to Kingman Regional Medical Center first, and then to Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, a roughly-two-hour drive away. (It is unclear if she was life-flighted there.) After assessing the extent of her injuries, doctors put her into a medically induced coma. She passed away Friday.
AZGFD only learned about the incident on Oct. 27 when a neighboring resident contacted them. The following day, an AZGFD officer visited Pine Lake and distributed door hangers warning residents of nearby elk and instructing them to not approach or feed the large ungulates. They met with the victim’s husband and investigated the backyard, which was covered in elk tracks.
Five elk attacks have been reported in Arizona in the last five years, but this is thought to be the first fatal encounter. AZGFD chalks up the attack to a human-conditioned elk that had been habituated to food rewards in the community. As is the case with bears and other large mammals, elk can become aggressive toward humans when fed.
“In 2015, two children suffered minor injuries after a food-seeking elk circled a picnic table from which their family was eating in the Hualapai Mountains,” the AZGFD press release says. “In 2021, an adult female received serious head injuries from an elk that was habituated to humans in Pine [Lake].”
Arizona is home to roughly 35,000 elk. Bulls can weigh up to 900 pounds and cows can weigh up to 500 pounds.