A bison calf has been euthanized in Yellowstone National Park after some well-meaning, but uninformed tourists scooped up the animal and put it in their trunk in search of help.
The animal couldn’t be reunited with its mother and began approaching people and vehicles, leaving officials with little choice.
“The story is true, and it’s sad conclusion highlights the importance of keeping a safe distance from park wildlife,” the park said in a statement Monday.
“Last week, 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.”
Or, as Weston Olsen posted on Facebook about his sister’s photo of the hapless tourists trying to “help” the baby bison.
“Haha! My sister was in Yellowstone and caught some idiots doing this,” he wrote.
There is no rehabilitation facility at the world-famous park, and the calf couldn’t be moved due to rules around quarantine for brucellosis. It was also too young to survive on its own and may have fallen victim to starvation or predation in any event, rangers said.
Park officials also said the incident highlights other reasons for alarm.
In one recent “viral video” a visitor was within arm’s length of a bison near Old Faithful and in another, tourists posed for pictures with bison at “extremely unsafe and illegal distances,” the park said.
(You must be at least 25 yards from wildlife such as bison and 100 yards from bears and wolves.)
In 2015, five people were “seriously injured” after getting too close to bison. Bison are more dangerous to tourists in Yellowstone than bears or wolves.
Flouting the rules can result in fines.
In this case, the investigation is ongoing and charges have yet not been laid.