Wildlife officials at Yellowstone National Park are investigating an incident that occurred in the Lamar River Valley on May 20 and led to the death of a bison calf.
A herd of bison was crossing the river near the confluence of Soda Butte Creek when a calf became separated from its mother. Cue the clueless tourist, who park officials described as an unidentified, middle-aged white male wearing a blue shirt and black pants.
Seeing the calf struggle, the man grabbed ahold of it, pushing it up the riverbank and onto the roadway. In doing so, he inadvertently sentenced the animal to an early death.
“Interference by people can cause wildlife to reject their offspring,” NPS officials said in a news release. “In this case, park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the calf with the herd. These efforts failed. The calf was later killed by park staff because it was abandoned by the herd and causing a hazardous situation by approaching cars and people along the roadway.”
Officials are searching for the unidentified man for violating the parks regulations. Park regulations require that visitors stay at least 25 yards away from all wildlife (including bison, elk and deer) and at least 100 yards 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,” reads the release. “Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival.”
Responding to a flood of Facebook comments from people who criticized the agency for euthanizing the abandoned calf, park officials explained that relocation was not an option. Federal and state regulations make it difficult to transport bison out of Yellowstone and require these animals to undergo a months-long quarantine process. Since the abandoned calf was unable to care for itself, it was not a good candidate for quarantine.
“It’s important to understand that national parks are very different than animal sanctuaries or zoos,” NPS officials explained. “We made the choice we did because national parks preserve natural processes.”
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Death is an important part of these natural processes, and the agency pointed out that roughly a quarter of all bison calves born in the park this spring will die. While tourists might have good intentions when trying to “save” these animals, the best thing they can do is give them a wide berth.
“Please give animals room to roam,” NPS officials pleaded in a follow-up comment. “Stay at least 100 yards away from wolves and bears, and at least 25 yards away from all other animals. Help us make it socially unacceptable to do anything else.”
This incident is yet another example of national park visitors interfering with wildlife. In 2021 a woman was slapped with federal charges related to approaching and filming a grizzly bear at an unsafe distance. That fall, another tourist tripped over himself when charged by a bull elk, and last year, a Yellowstone bison gored a man who got too close.
The post Yellowstone Officials Searching for Idiot Who Picked Up Bison Calf appeared first on Outdoor Life.
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