Sad news out of Yellowstone National Park this morning. In a press release from park officials, an update on the bison placed in a tourists SUV was given. Because of the actions of the visitors, which infuriated and angered many, the bison calf that was picked up and placed in the back of a car last week was forced to be euthanized by park officials. According to the park, the bison calf had to be euthanized because it was abandoned and was causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway.
Yellowstone National Park officials summed up the event in the press release that can be read below:
Last week in Yellowstone National Park, visitors were cited for placing a newborn bison calf in their vehicle and transporting it to a park facility because of their misplaced concern for the animal’s welfare. In terms of human safety, this was a dangerous activity because adult animals are very protective of their young and will act aggressively to defend them. In addition, interference by people can cause mothers to reject their offspring. In this case, park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the newborn bison calf with the herd. These efforts failed. The bison calf was later euthanized because it was abandoned and causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway.
Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival. Park regulations require that you stay at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all wildlife (including bison, elk and deer) and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves. Disregarding these regulations can result in fines, injury, and even death. The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules.
Recently viral videos have been passed around on social media and shown on major news networks. They show visitors approaching within mere inches of an adult bison in the Old Faithful area as well as a tourists posing for a picture within a foot of a bison. In 2015, five visitors were seriously injured by bison when they got too close. They can jump nearly six feet vertically and can run at speeds of 30 miles an hour. They might look slow and calm, but these huge mammals injure more visitors to Yellowstone than any other animal.
While animals live and die all the time in nature, it is always a shame when the actions of a few lead to the death of an otherwise innocent creature. It is also quite ridiculous that anyone would get so close to a bison, let alone any other wild animal. We are encouraged to Leave No Trace, and that includes contact with animals of all shapes and sizes. Don’t feed birds and chipmunks, stop approaching bison, elk and deer and let them be one in nature without your interference. We shouldn’t need to constantly remind people to watch from far away and see them in their natural habitat.
The bison is America’s new National Mammal and hopefully their placement on tis lost helps them get the respect from humanity that they and all wild animals deserve.
For more information about safety in Yellowstone, visit https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/safety.htm.
For those curious why the bison was put down, Yellowstone National Park responded to the inquiry on Facebook:
Yellowstone National Park In order to ship the calf out of the park, it would have had to go through months of quarantine to be monitored for brucellosis. No approved quarantine facilities exist at this time, and we don’t have the capacity to care for a calf that’s too young to forage on its own. Nor is it the mission of the National Park Service to rescue animals: our goal is to maintain the ecological processes of Yellowstone. Even though humans were involved in this case, it is not uncommon for bison, especially young mothers, to lose or abandon their calves. Those animals typically die of starvation or predation.