Baby bison euthanized after Yellowstone visitor pushed animal out of river, herd rejected it, park says

Yellowstone National Park staff euthanized a newborn bison after a visitor “intentionally disturbed” the calf, causing its herd to reject the baby, park officials said.

Park staff killed the abandoned calf because it was causing a “hazardous situation by approaching cars and people along the roadway” after its interaction with the visitor, the National Park Service said in a news release Tuesday.

Yellowstone officials said a man approached the newborn bison Saturday in Lamar Valley, near the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek, after the struggling calf had been separated from its mother when the herd crossed the river.

The man pushed the calf up from the river and onto the roadway.

“Interference by people can cause wildlife to reject their offspring,” the park service said. “In this case, park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the calf with the herd. These efforts failed.”.

Yellowstone law enforcement officers are asking the public for information about the incident, which is under investigation.

Stay away from animals, park cautions

Park officials said visitors are required to stay at least 25 yards away from all wildlife and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves. Approaching wild animals can affect their well-being and their survival, the park service said.

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Why doesn’t Yellowstone staff rescue wildlife?

The park service says in a mission statement its focus is “sustaining viable populations of native wildlife species, rather than protecting individual animals.”.

The park adds the death of animals is a “necessary part of sustaining our populations of predators, scavengers, decomposers and, eventually, herbivores.”.

“Actions like feeding, husbandry and rehabilitation contradict the National Park Service mission by shielding animals from the forces of natural selection and creating a zoo-like atmosphere where animals require assistance or protection from people,” the park service said.

About 99% of Yellowstone is managed as wilderness, the park service said.

When does Yellowstone staff intervene with wildlife?

The park service says it only intervenes in “natural biological or physical processes” under these circumstances:.

  • When directed by Congress.
  • When human life and property are at stake.
  • When necessary to protect other park resources, facilities, human health and safety.
  • To restore a natural ecosystem that has been disrupted by humans.
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