I am posting this with a level of trepidation. Its long, I warn you, and full of my opinions and thoughts in a somewhat negative light in a slight departure from my usual posts.
In the wake of the bison incident at Yellowstone National Park and my recent experiences in the Canadian Rockies NPs, I feel like I must say something. I’m disgusted and distressed at the behaviour these two people displayed. Picking up a bison calf and putting it in your car is completely uncalled for. It is against the advice, rules, and laws of the National Parks to even approach wildlife.
The correct course of action in this instance, if they were that concerned about the bison, is to call the Park Rangers and notify them to take care of it. The same action you would take if sighting a bear is to report it to the professionals.
While some people are outraged the calf was euthanized, the Park Rangers really did not have much choice. What people do not understand is that baby animals are very impressionable and easily imprint onto humans in their early days. Once imprinted, it is very hard to take back and make them wild again.
If the calf had been abandoned by its mother, it would have died slowly on its own and likely ended up as someone’s meal. That is the truth of it and that is the way the ecosystem works. Predators and scavengers have to eat, too.
But, to be totally honest, I am not all that surprised as much as I am outraged. Human actions led directly to the calf being euthanized, which they intended to “save.” Too many times do human actions (or lack of action in some cases) cause similar incidents. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read about bears being euthanized for becoming habituated with humans, getting into garbage that wasn’t properly secured by people who should really know better.
It reminds me of the people who recently tried to rescue an abandoned bear cub only to have it euthanized by B.C. Conservation Officers. The correct protocol would have been phoning a wildlife rehab center, telling them about the situation and if the rehabbers decided to try to help the bear, they could have taken care of it professionally. Wildlife rehab is really better left to the professionals. I have volunteered with a wildlife rehab center and trust me, it takes a lot of expertise to do it right. Unfortunately, there is a high failure rate.
I am also not surprised after some behaviour I witnessed while visiting the National Parks in Canada’s Rocky Mountains recently. All of it was rooted in selfish and lazy human behaviour and make me lose a little bit more faith in humankind. Here they are…