Bison Calf Dead After Tourists Put It in Car at Yellowstone Park

May 16, 2016 Updated: October 5, 2018

A bison calf was euthanized after two tourists put it in their car trunk last week in the Yellowstone National Park.

The tourists, described as foreigners, drove the calf to a park ranger station because they thought it was cold, reported.

They were ticketed and escorted back to release the calf where they found it.

But despite multiple attempts by the rangers, the calf was rejected by its herd. Because it kept approaching people and cars, it had to be euthanized.

The tourists seemed unaware of any problems in their behavior, according to Karen Richardson, who encountered the tourists while she was escorting children on a field trip.

“They were seriously worried that the calf was freezing and dying.” she told

Visitors are not allowed to get within than 25 yards of large animals, like bison, or 100 yards for bears and coyotes, according to the park’s website. 

Bison can run three times faster than humans and every year some people get gored. Some fatally.

The American Bison, also known as the buffalo, was officially designated the National Mammal of the United States on May 9.

Between 30 to 60 million American Bison used to roam North America before the mid-1800s. 

Mass hunting and a bovine illness called brucellosis almost drove the ungulates to extinction in the latter half of the 19th century. 

Through conservation efforts, there are currently 162,110 bison in farms across the US, according to the Department of Agriculture’s 2012 Census of Agriculture,

This number is down from the 2007 total, which was 198,234.

The Smithsonian Institute estimates there to be 30,000 American bison in conservation herds on public lands. Yellowstone has almost 5,000.

To prove that bison are indeed dangerous, the National Park Service keeps on its website a 1992 video of a bison goring a man at the park.

Update: The Yellowstone National Park explained on its Facebook page why the calf was euthanized:

“Thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to read this post and share our safety messages. We’re reading through your comments and noticed many people asking why the calf had to be euthanized.

In order to ship the calf out of the park, it would have had to go through months of quarantine to be monitored for brucellosis. No approved quarantine facilities exist at this time, and we don’t have the capacity to care for a calf that’s too young to forage on its own. Nor is it the mission of the National Park Service to rescue animals: our goal is to maintain the ecological processes of Yellowstone. Even though humans were involved in this case, it is not uncommon for bison, especially young mothers, to lose or abandon their calves. Those animals typically die of starvation or predation.” – Yellowstone National Park

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