(WILDLIFE/ANIMAL NEWS) Last week, visitors at Yellowstone National Park were cited for placing a newborn bison calf in their car and transporting the animal to a park facility over concerns that the animal was “too cold.” Not only was this dangerous in terms of the tourists’ safety, but human interference can often cause mothers to reject their offspring.
Park rangers repeatedly attempted to reunite the newborn with the herd, but unfortunately to no avail. As a result of the herd’s abandonment, the bison calf began approaching park visitors and cars along the roadway, causing a dangerous situation for the animal as well as the park’s visitors.
Sadly, a week later, the animal had to be euthanized. Park rangers claim even if the calf could have been rehabilitated, the animal would have required months of quarantine to test for brucellosis (a bacterial infection), and Yellowstone is unable to provide the proper facilities for monitoring the animal. This sad conclusion highlights the importance of following park regulations and keeping a safe distance from wildlife.
Do you feel park rangers made the right decision? Should they have just let nature run its course? Or could they have transported the bison calf to a wildlife sanctuary or rehabilitation center instead? Continue reading for the full story and share your thoughts in the comments below. — Global Animal
New York Times, Katie Rogers
At Yellowstone National Park, officials are used to issuing warnings to the public each time a visitor is injured by a bison. The animals hurt more tourists than any other animal at the park.
But this time, it was a newborn bison calf that suffered.
On Monday, officials said that the calf had been euthanized a week after visitors picked the animal up and put it in the back of an S.U.V. The calf was killed because it was later rejected by its herd and appeared to have been habituated to humans, Morgan Warthin of the National Park Service wrote in a statement.
“The bison calf was later euthanized because it was abandoned and causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway,” Ms. Warthin wrote.
On Sunday, Karen Richardson, a resident of Victor, Idaho, told NBC Montana that two tourists had taken the calf to a ranger station because they thought the animal was cold. Ms. Richardson, who was nearby, took a photo of the animal as it stood in the back of a vehicle. The tourists were later cited for transporting the calf, officials said.
Officials at Yellowstone have used blunt language and signs to warn visitors to steer clear of the animals, often called American buffalo, the nickname given to them by early explorers and settlers, though they are distinct from the species of Africa and Asia.
Visitors to the park are given a bright yellow flier that depicts a person getting gored by a bison. But the charms of the bison have proved hard to resist. Last July, a woman was tossed by a bison after trying to take a selfie with one. She was one of five people to be injured by bison last summer. In the statement on Monday, park officials cited two viral videos in which visitors had approached bison.
Last week, President Obama signed a law that made the bison, the largest mammal in North America, the first official mammal of the United States.Population numbers for the animals have dwindled over the years, but officials at Yellowstone estimate that the bison population there fluctuates from 2,300 to 5,000 animals, depending on breeding patterns.
This year, in an effort to contain the population and the spread of the animal disease brucellosis that Yellowstone’s bison can transport during their annual migration, park officials attempted to cull 900 bison from the herd, according to the Associated Press.
Park officials took to Facebook on Monday answer questions from the public about why the calf had been euthanized. Even if the calf could have been rehabilitated somehow, they wrote that the animal would have required months of quarantine to test for brucellosis, and Yellowstone does not have the facilities needed to monitor the calf.
“Nor is it the mission of the National Park Service to rescue animals,” officials added, “Our goal is to maintain the ecological processes of Yellowstone.”