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Yellowstone Explains Why it Euthanized Bison Calf

Photo Courtesy: Karen Richardson via Facebook
Photo Courtesy: Karen Richardson via Facebook

After a story broke yesterday about a newborn baby bison being euthanized after Yellowstone National Park tourists put it in their vehicle, people asked: Why did the animal have to be euthanized?

“I have to wonder, too, why it couldn’t have been taken to a bison ranch to be bottle fed. Is it because of the brucellosis risk? Can babies be carriers?” someone asked on XL Country 100.7 Facebook page.

Similar questions are being raised elsewhere, including on the official Yellowstone National Park Facebook page where the park posted a statement about the incident on Monday.

Here’s the official word on the Yellowstone National Park in response to these questions:

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. Even though humans were involved in this case, it is not uncommon for bison, especially young mothers, to lose or abandon their calves. Those animals typically die of starvation or predation.

The newborn calf was placed in a vehicle by park tourists last week and taken to a park facility because they were concerned about the animal’s wellbeing.

Park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the calf with the herd, but those efforts failed, the park said on Monday. The calf was later euthanized because it was abandoned and causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway, according to the park.

On Monday, the park urged people to respect the wildlife and safety regulations in the park.

“In recent weeks, visitors in the park have been engaging in inappropriate, dangerous, and illegal behavior with wildlife. These actions endanger people and have now resulted in the death of a newborn bison calf,” the release states.

“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,” the park reminds people.

Yellowstone isn’t the only place where this is happening. A woman was recently lifeflighted after being gored by a bison that she approached in Custer State Park in South Dakota.

Here’s a better way to interact with the wildlife in Yellowstone, from the safety of your vehicle:

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