These tourists doomed this bison calf when they tried to help it
Bison are majestic and beautiful. And they're the US national mammal! But, please, if you see one on the side of the road, don't touch it--for the animal's sake and yours.
Some recent Yellowstone visitors didn't get that message. They found a newborn bison calf and, concerned for its wellbeing, put it in their car and brought it to park rangers.
— CNN (@CNN) May 16, 2016
That calf has now been euthanized because after its time in human custody, its mother and herd rejected it. As Yellowstone National Park posted on Facebook:
"[P]ark rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the newborn bison calf with the herd. These efforts failed."
Why euthanasia? Well, first of all, the park service isn't an animal rescue--the organization's focus is on "maintain[ing] the ecological processes of Yellowstone," not saving babies, however cute they might be. Transferring the calf somewhere else would have required a months-long quarantine, and the park didn't have the facilities to hold or care for the animal during that time.
By the way, the tourists involved received a $110 citation, and might be looking at harsher charges once the investigation's complete.
It's not the first time close encounters between bison and humans have ended badly, but usually it's the puny humans who come off worse. In summer 2015, 5 people were injured trying to approach bison.
Outrage over a lethal mistake is just the latest in a rash of tourist incidents in national parks. https://t.co/qdA7pxdMcX
— National Geographic (@NatGeo) May 17, 2016
That's why Yellowstone asks that all visitors stay at least 25 yards away from large animals like bison and elk. So if you want a perfect photo on your wild west trip, your best bet is probably investing in a good zoom lens.
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Dana is a freelance writer from Florida, the state that winter forgot. She likes video games, cats, fantasy novels, and complaining about the weather. Follow her on Twitter for intermittent whining about the First Amendment.