Yellowstone Visitors Remove Baby Elk, Putting It at Risk

Rangers advise staying 25 yards at a minimum from most park wildlife
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2023 12:40 PM CDT
Visitors at Yellowstone Take Baby Elk to Police
   (Getty Images / Cavan Images)

At first glance it seems like a heartwarming gesture: Outsider reports that Memorial Day weekend visitors to Yellowstone National Park put a newborn elk calf in their car and drove it to the West Yellowstone, Montana, Police Department. But it was actually a disturbing turn of events. This incident, which occurred during elk calving season, highlights a critical need for visitors to respect the park's wildlife regulations and maintain a safe distance from these creatures. The calf's displacement likely prevented the mother from finding her newborn. It is part of elks' natural behavior to leave calves bedded during the day while foraging. After its release, the calf vanished into the forest. Its current condition is unknown.

The incident is the second recent reminder that even when visitors' intentions may seem "good," interfering with wildlife violates Yellowstone National Park regulations and is a federal crime. Furthermore, such actions can significantly impact the well-being and survival of these animals. This episode comes on the heels of a similar incident when, as the New York Times reports, a Hawaiian visitor was fined for assisting a bison calf out of the Lamar River. The calf, unable to be reunited with its mother, had to be euthanized by the Park Service. Yellowstone National Park regulations stipulate that visitors stay 25 yards away from wildlife at a minimum and 100 yards from predators like wolves and bears. Disregarding these rules can result in fines, injury, and even death. (More Yellowstone National Park stories.)

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