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Yellowstone bison calf

A bison calf in Yellowstone has been euthanized after a well-meaning tourist tried to help it. Photo: NPS

The Inertia

A bison calf in Yellowstone National Park has been euthanized after a well-meaning tourist had an encounter with it. Now, Yellowstone National Park law enforcement officers are asking the public for any information about the incident and reminding people, once again, to stay away from the wildlife.

According to reports from the National Parks Service (NPS), on May 20, a man visiting the park noticed a calf that had been separated from its herd while attempting to cross the Lamar River. The visitor pushed the calf up the riverbank and out of the water in an attempt to help it.

“The calf had been separated from its mother when the herd crossed the Lamar River,” the NPS wrote in a statement. “As the calf struggled, the man pushed the calf up from the river and onto the roadway. Visitors later observed the calf walk up to and follow cars and people.”

Sadly, that visitor’s good intentions led to the death of the calf. “Interference by people can cause wildlife to reject their offspring,” the NPS explained. “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.”

Death is part of the natural way of things, and it’s often worse to step in.

“In the wildness of Yellowstone, animals that are vulnerable or make bad decisions become food for others. It can be difficult to watch nature take its course, especially when young animals are involved and human actions may have influenced the outcome,” the NPS wrote. “However, each year animals have more offspring than can possibly survive. The death of some animals is a necessary part of sustaining our populations of predators, scavengers, decomposers and, eventually, herbivores once the nutrient cycle comes full circle. Yellowstone is not a zoo or an animal park; it is the wilderness, home to countless creatures living in their own environment on their own terms.”


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