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Bison Calf in Viral Photo Euthanized After Tourist Placed it into their Vehicle

May 19, 2016 04:34 AM EDT
European Bison Project Seeks A Return To The Wild
A calf of European bison.
(Photo : Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

The bison calf in the viral photo last week was laid to rest.

On May 9, tourists loaded the bison calf in their SUV and drove it to a park facility, after having the wrong notion that the animal was cold.

The careless action prompted rage among animal welfare groups and posed danger to the animal, which has been recently declared by US President Barack Obama as US's first national mammal.

Park officials said the calf had to be euthanized as the rangers' efforts to reunite it with the herd failed. They also noted that it is causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway.

The bisons, which typically weigh between 1,000 to 2,000 pounds have unpredictable temperament which is why the best defense against an attack is to keep a safe distance. They move in fast speeds and cover long distances when they gallop. Last year, five tourists were seriously injured after getting too close with the mammal.

Taking a baby out of the herd is dangerous for a calf as interference by people can cause mothers to reject their offspring. In addition, mothers are very protective of their calf and they will attack in a split second once they see others touch their baby.

In a statement, the national park warned that visitors should never engage in inappropriate and dangerous acts such as getting too close to the wild animals in the park. 

"Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival. Park regulations require citizens to stay at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all wildlife (including bison, elk and deer) and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves," the statement said.

As per Fox News, the visitors were cited for touching park wildlife and were fined $110.

Meanwhile, a petition has been signed to punish the tourists that put the calf into the vehicle.

"This is just another example of park visitors completely ignoring rules and destroying wildlife because they're careless. If there were actual penalties other than a fine for breaking the rules, this calf probably wouldn't have died. Please see to it that visitors who endanger other life at the park are harshly penalized, starting with these people," the petition said.

Today, just a handful of bison live in Yellowstone National Park with population swelling to roughly 4,900.

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