Sad Week for Wildlife in out National Parks

This has been a sad week for wildlife in our National Parks. To start it off, Yellowstone National Park had to euthanize a baby Bison. This baby had been reported last week to be placed in the back of an SUV when tourists thought it “looked cold”. Park officials tried to reunite the baby Bison with the herd and its mother unsuccessfully. Now you may be wondering why they had to euthanize the poor thing and not hand it over to a rescue center? Yellowstone National Park had this to say on their Facebook page:

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News has been circulating on social media about people putting a bison calf in their car. The story is true, and its sad conclusion highlights the importance of keeping a safe distance from park wildlife. Here’s the full account:

Last week, visitors were cited for placing a newborn bison calf in their vehicle and transporting it to a park facility because of their misplaced concern for the animal‘s welfare. In terms of human safety, 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. In this case, park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the newborn bison calf with the herd. These efforts failed. The bison calf was later euthanized because it was abandoned and causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway.

In a recent viral video, a visitor approached within an arm’s length of an adult bison in the Old Faithful area. Another video featured visitors posing for pictures with bison at extremely unsafe and illegal distances. Last year, five visitors were seriously injured when they approached bison too closely. Bison injure more visitors to Yellowstone than any other animal.

Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival. Park regulations require that you stay at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all wildlife (including bison, elk and deer) and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves. Disregarding these regulations can result in fines, injury, and even death. The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules.

-Yellowstone National Park

 

Adding on to the already sad news from Yellowstone, Great Smokey National Park is in the news for euthanizing a black bear after it was reported it had bitten an Appalachian Trail Hiker. 49-year-old Bradley Veeder of Las Vegas was bitten in his leg while sleeping near a shelter. He is being treated for two puncture wounds in his leg. The injuries were not life threatening and Veeder is expected to make a full recovery.

The bear was darted and tranquilized. After examination and consultation with the park leadership, the bear was humanely euthanized. Lab tests have not confirmed the captured bear is the same as the one who bit Mr. Veeder, but tooth analysis matches the puncture wounds. It would be highly unlikely another male bear would be in the area due to their territorial nature. Regardless, it is sad to hear of the bear being euthanized in such a remote part of the park.

A sad week in the parks indeed. Keep in mind, many of these animal/human interactions can be avoided.

  • Never approach wildlife
  • Keep a large distance between yourself and wildlife. Retreat slowly if they begin approaching you.
  • When camping, keep food, lotion and anything “smelly” at least 100 yards from camp and hung in a tree.
  • Notify Park Rangers of any animals that you believe are acting unusual. They are the professionals. Let them asses the situation and intervene. In most cases, you will do more harm then good by trying to “help”. Case in point, the poor baby bison.