Yellowstone baby bison put to death after park visitor caused rejection by its mother

The park claim the visitor intentionally touched the animal  (Hellen Jack via Yellowstone National Park)
The park claim the visitor intentionally touched the animal (Hellen Jack via Yellowstone National Park)

A newborn baby bison had to be killed after a human visitor intentionally picked him, leading him to be rejected by its mother.

Yellowstone National Park said it had to kill the animal after a park visitor tried to help the calf — but his intervention led to the newborn being ostracised from the family pack.

Rangers, from the park based in the US state of Wyoming, said the visitor — an unnamed man — was apparently trying to help the calf rejoin its herd after it got separated from its mother.

But because he had touched the animal, the herd rejected the calf despite repeated attempts by park rangers to reunite the family.

A spokesman said: “The calf had to be killed because it was abandoned by the herd and was approaching cars and people on the roadway, causing a hazardous situation.

“An unidentified white male in his 40-50s, wearing a blue shirt and black pants, approached the newborn bison on Saturday after the calf had been separated from its herd while trying to cross the Lamar River.

“As the calf struggled, the man pushed the calf up from the river and onto the roadway. The newborn animal was later seen on the road around vehicles and visitors.

“Interference by people can cause a herd to reject its offspring.

“Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their wellbeing and, in this case, their survival.

“The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules.”

Park rules are clearly displayed in Yellowstone and visitors are required to stay at least 25 yards away from all wildlife, and 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

Yellowstone has now tasked its law enforcement team to investigate the incident.

They are appealing for information on the incident from members of the public, and anyone with anything to share is asked to get in touch here.

Why was the calf killed?

According to the park’s site, the fact Yellowstone is not a sanctuary and is subject to local rules is the reason why the calf was “euthanised”. Regulations mean bison can only leave the national park if used for meat or in research.

The park now has a quarantine procedure in place but said this calf would not have been suitable for the lengthy process.

In the face of criticism, attracting 2,300 comments on Facebook alone at the time of going to press, the park announced: “We made the choice we did not because we are lazy, uncaring, or inexpert in our understanding of bison biology. We made the choice we did because national parks preserve natural processes.”

In other words, Yellowstone follows natural selection and the cycle of life, and argues that a quarter of all calves die in the wild anyway. Because the calf was endangering others by being on the road, the rangers took the decision to euthanise the animal, and leave it as food for predators.