YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo.—A bison calf that tourists at Yellowstone National Park put in their vehicle last week had to be euthanized after its herd rejected it, park officials said Monday.
The incident led park officials to make renewed calls for visitors to respect wildlife and safety regulations. In recent weeks, the park says visitors “have been engaging in inappropriate, dangerous and illegal behavior with wildlife.”
Issues arose after two visitors, who had come from outside of the United States, placed the newborn bison calf in their vehicle and transported it to a park facility because of their “misplaced concern for the animal’s welfare,” the park’s statement said. The visitors were cited for their actions.
Park rangers’ efforts to reunite the calf with the herd failed after repeated attempts. The calf was wandering near cars and approaching people, leading to the decision to euthanize it, officials said.
In its statement, the park also criticized recent viral Internet videos that show visitors approaching bison at “extremely unsafe and illegal distances.” Officials said five visitors were seriously injured because of this last year.
Yellowstone regulations require visitors stay at least 25 yards away from all wildlife—including bison, elk and deer—and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves. Disregarding the regulations can result in fines, injury and even death.
Almost 5,000 bison, also known as buffalo, freely roam throughout Yellowstone and are a top draw for the millions of American and international tourists who annually flock to the park that spans parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
“The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules,” officials said.
At Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota, visitors are told not to feed animals and are asked to view bison and other animals from a distance because they can attack without warning.
Last week, a 50-year-old Missouri woman was gored in the stomach by a bison in Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She had to be hospitalized.