Yellowstone visitors place newborn elk in vehicle, drive to police station
It is unclear why the tourists picked up the calf or what happened at the police station after they brought it there
June 6, 2023 7:10am
Updated: June 6, 2023 7:10am
Visitors at Yellowstone National Park picked up a newborn elk calf, placed it inside their vehicle, and drove to a nearby police station, in the latest controversial act involving wildlife in the park.
The visitors spotted the elk calf while they were driving along U.S. Highway 191 in the park during Memorial Day weekend and took it to the West Yellowstone Police Department in Montana, park officials said.
It is unclear why the tourists picked up the calf or what happened at the police station after they brought it there. However, at some point, the elk escaped and ran into the forest.
"The elk later ran off into the forest," officials said. "The condition of the elk is unknown."
The park said that the incident is under investigation.
The incident comes less than a week after a man “intentionally disturbed” a bison calf that had been separated from its mother after crossing a river, eventually leading to its death.
The man grabbed the calf and pushed it up from the river, onto the roadway. After the incident, park rangers tried to reunite the calf with its parent, but were unsuccessful because it rejected its offspring. The calf was then euthanized because it was abandoned by the herd and was “causing a hazardous situation by approaching cars and people along the roadway.”
The man, originally from Hawaii, pleaded guilty to one count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife, resulting in several fines and fees.
National Park rangers reminded visitors to stay away from wildlife given that any interaction with them could impact their well-being and survival even if their intentions are “good.”
“Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in some cases, their survival. When an animal is near a campsite, trail, boardwalk, parking lot, on a road, or in a developed area, leave it alone and give it space,” Yellowstone said.
People are required to stay at least 25 yards away from elk, bison, and deer according to federal regulations. For bears and wolves, people are instructed to stay at least 100 yards away.