Yellowstone Bison Calf Euthanized

By on May 16, 2016
"Rescued" bison calf. (Karen Richardson Facebook)

‘Rescued’ bison calf. (Karen Richardson Facebook)


Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Recent wildlife violations at Yellowstone Park have authorities bewildered on just how to best manage the park’s wildlife or, better yet, manage the absurdity of its two-legged guests.

Thanks to social media, park authorities have been alerted to multiple incidents involving bison-human interactions, which continue to alarm officials. The latest takes the cake.

A father and son visiting Yellowstone from another country decided to shelter what they perceived as a bison calf in need of warmth by putting the animal in the back of their rented vehicle. The pair reportedly found the animal a couple miles east of the Lamar Valley Ranch. They then drove the calf to ranch headquarters where they sought out a park ranger to demand the bison receive proper care from what they called “freezing” conditions.

Park authorities cited the pair and made repeated attempts to return the calf to the area where the father and son picked it up.

“Rangers made their very best attempts at reuniting the calf with the herd,” said park spokesperson Morgan Warthin. “They worked and they worked and they worked but in the end their efforts were unsuccessful and they made the decision to euthanize the animal.”

The calf did not reconnect with its mother and was rejected by the bison herd in the area. Because the calf was observed wandering the road and causing traffic disturbances, the decision was made to put it down.

“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,” Warthin said.

The incident of a woman attempting to pet a bison on opening day in Yellowstone National Park is still being investigated by law enforcement, according to officials. (Eugena True)

An unidentified woman attempts to pet a bison on opening day in Yellowstone National Park. (Eugena True)

The latest incident is just one of many recent wildlife encroachments involving bison. Within weeks of the park opening for the summer season, numerous photos and videos have made the rounds on the Internet showing visitors approaching, posing with, and even petting bison.

Language barriers and unread materials distributed at the park’s entrances have hampered efforts by park officials to get the word out. Bison injure more visitors in Yellowstone than any other animal. Five visitors were seriously injured in the park last year. Park regulations require at least 25 yards distance from all wildlife (including bison, elk and deer) and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

“I don’t know what the problem is,” Warthin admitted regarding reckless human behavior observed in the park’s first few weeks of opening. “What we do know is there are signs and information all over. Websites, newspaper articles like yours, and actual signage in the park. We are calling on all visitors and asking for [your newspaper] to help get the message out. The safety of these animals and people as well depends on everyone’s cooperation.”

Many wondered why the animal could not have been transported to a sanctuary facility rather than euthanized. Park officials said that was a nonstarter.

“In order to ship the calf out of the park it would have had to go through months of quarantine to be monitored for brucellosis. No approved quarantine facilities exist at this time, and we don’t have the capacity to care for a calf that’s too young to forage on its own. Nor is it the mission of the National Park Service to rescue animals: our goal is to maintain the ecological processes of Yellowstone,” said a park spokesperson in a statement.

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