Officials at Yellowstone National Park are searching for a man whose actions resulted in the death of a bison calf last weekend.
On May 20, a young calf became separated from its herd as the animals crossed the Lamar River. Rather than notifying a Ranger, a park visitor intervened and pushed the newborn up a slope and onto the road, where it began approaching cars and people. Rangers tried to reunite the calf with the herd, but their efforts failed and ultimately they took the difficult decision to put it down.
A photo of the man, taken by another park visitor, was shared on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone. The account highlights careless behavior at US National Parks, often involving wildlife. Usually nobody is hurt, but sadly in this case a bison lost its life as a result of someone ignoring park rules.
A photo posted by on
If you recognize the man from Saturday, you can call the National Park Service (NPS) tip line on 307-344-2132, or email YELL_Tip@nps.gov.
The man who handled the calf doubtless meant well and hoped it would return to the herd on its own, but there are good reasons why visitors are told never to approach or try to interact with wildlife.
First of all, the man didn't understand the animals' behavior as well as a qualified Ranger, and couldn't have foreseen what may happen as a result of moving the calf.
Second, there's the problem of habituation. If an animal becomes used to harmless contact with people, it will lose its natural wariness and may even seek them out in future. This increases the chances of a dangerous close call, which can result in injury to the person or the animal and can mean that the creature has to be euthanized for public safety.
Then there's the risk to the man himself. Many bison attacks happen when a person gets in between a mother and her calf, and if the adult had been nearby then he could have been seriously hurt. Bison are fast and powerful, and are responsible for more injuries at Yellowstone than any other animal according to the NPS. Last summer, three people were gored by bison at the park within the space of a month.
Visitors to Yellowstone should stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) from bison and elk at all times. If you're not quite sure how far that is, close one eye, hold out an arm, and give the animal a thumbs up. If you can completely hide it behind your thumb, you're at a distance that's safe for both of you.
For more advice, see our guides how to avoid being gored by a bison and wildlife safety: eight tips for unexpected encounters.
- Best binoculars and monoculars: enjoy wildlife from a safe distance
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.