A Spokane, Wash., woman gored by a buffalo at the National Bison Range in Moiese figures the next time she wants a photo of one of the animals she'll buy a post card.
Edith Noel recounted Saturday how she had just walked away from her vehicle to photograph the big bull when it charged at full speed.The bull caught her in the right side of her lower back with its horn and threw her over its back.
It was the first time in 80 years that a range visitor had been injured by a bison.
"We weren't provoking him or nothing," the 51-year-old woman said from her bed at St. Patrick Hospital Saturday evening. She also suffered a chipped bone in her left foot. She was listed in stable condition.
Noel left Spokane early Friday afternoon to begin a weeklong vacation in Glacier National Park with her fiance, Roger Slee, 59. They saw the sign for the National Bison Range and decided to take a short tour.
They had walked a short way from their vehicle to photograph a bison when the animal suddenly raised its head and charged, she said. The incident occurred less than a half-mile from the range headquarters.
"It happened so fast," Noel said. "He had his head down eating, then he just shot right at us like a bullet."
"Edith was running full bore," Slee added, "but she just didn't stand a chance. That bull is a good 6 feet tall, and she was above him when I saw her. Then she landed on her shoulders and back."
In addition to the hole in her back and the chipped foot, Noel said she "ached from head to toe."
Slee took the woman to range manager Jon Malcolm's house near the range headquarters. Malcolm called in the Life Flight helicopter, which transported Noel to St. Patrick's.
Slee was a "nervous wreck" after watching his fiancee get gored and tossed by the bison, so Malcolm drove him into Missoula in the couple's vehicle and stayed with them at the hospital until early Saturday morning.
Malcolm said people have been charged before, but Noel's goring was the first to occur since the bison range was established in 1908.
He said the bison range staff had identified a "prime suspect" in the goring. Using four-wheel-drive vehicles, they herded the animal into a pasture away from the tour roads Saturday morning.
"Folks that come in here and want to see the bison need to recognize how unpredictable and powerful these critters are," Malcolm said. He urged people to obey range regulations and never leave the roadway.
Malcolm added that breeding season is just starting and the bulls are more ready to charge people. He said if bison are close to the road, people should stay in their cars.