Good intentions have led to dire consequences in Yellowstone National Park, after a pair of tourists put a bison calf in the back of their car out of concern for his well-being.
The photo of the calf in the back of the vehicle – with a seatbelt ineffectively strapped across his neck – went viral in the United States last week, prompting the National Park Service to take to social media to respond to the story with facts.
“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,” Yellowstone noted on their post.
The original news story from EastIdahoNews.com explained that the tourists – a father and his son – saw their deeds as heroic.
“They were demanding to speak with a ranger,” one witness told EastIdahoNews.com. “They were seriously worried that the calf was freezing and dying.”
Park rangers arrived shortly after the duo presented themselves, fined the father and son, then returned the calf to where he was originally found.
“Park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the newborn bison calf with the herd,” Yellowstone wrote on Facebook. “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.”
Rehabilitation was not an option due to a lengthy quarantine period and their policy to allow nature to take its course, the park added.
Bison are capable of sprinting much faster than humans can run, and in one case last year, five park visitors were injured when they got too close to a bison.
Sadly, such interference is commonplace in Yellowstone, despite huge educational campaigns.
It’s vital that people from all walks of life learn to let wildlife be wild – because you never know how dire the consequences may be.