A hiker in Yellowstone National Park suffered minor injuries from what officials say was a mother grizzly bear protecting her cub on Monday.

According to a park statement, the 37-year-old Columbia, Missouri woman was hiking alone on the Fairy Falls Trail near Old Faithful when the encounter occurred. Park officials say she came upon two grizzly bears at close range when the sow grizzly knocked the woman down. She reportedly suffered a scratch to her thigh and minor injuries to her face.

The unnamed hiker attempted to use her bear spray. She declined medical attention.

Yellowstone bear management biologist Kerry Gunther said that the attack appeared to be a "typical case" of a grizzly bear mother protecting her offspring.

"Because this bear was displaying natural protective behavior for its cub, no action will be taken against the bear. Several trails in the area will be closed to give the grizzly family time to clear from the area," Gunther said.

Tuesday's incident marks the first time this year that a visitor in Yellowstone National Park has been injured by a bear. Prior to that, the most recent incident happened in June last year when a black bear bit into an occupied tent and bruised a woman's thigh.

Park officials offer the following tips to protect yourself from bears while hiking:

  • Hike in groups of three or more people
  • Carry bear spray and know how to use it
  • Be alert and make noise
  • Stay out of areas that are closed for bear management
  • Don't hike at dawn, dusk or at night when grizzly bears are most active
  • If necessary, turn around and go the other way to avoid interactions with wild animals.

The incident remains under investigation.

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