Yellowstone urges visitors to protect wildlife after tourists put baby elk in their car

Jun 5, 2023, 2:17 PM

FILE: Entrance sign at Yellowstone National Park. (NPS/Jacob W. Frank)...

FILE: Entrance sign at Yellowstone National Park. (NPS/Jacob W. Frank)

(NPS/Jacob W. Frank)

(CNN) —Yellowstone National Park has urged visitors to protect wildlife after a string of incidents that have left animals killed or endangered, including one in which tourists gave a newborn elk a ride in their car.

The park issued a plea late last week asking visitors to drive carefully and follow safety regulations after several reports of fatal collisions between vehicles and wildlife.

“In recent days, some actions by visitors have led to the endangerment of people and wildlife and resulted in the death of wildlife,” the park said in a press release.

“The park calls on visitors to protect wildlife by understanding how their actions can negatively impact wildlife.”

Man pleads guilty to picking up Yellowstone bison calf that was rejected by herd, euthanized

On Memorial Day weekend, visitors put a newborn elk calf in their car and brought it to the West Yellowstone Police Department. The calf later ran into the forest. Its condition is unknown, the park said.

On May 28, two adult black bears, both dark chocolate brown in color, were struck and killed in separate vehicle collisions in the park, Yellowstone said.

At about 5 p.m., a vehicle hit an adult male black bear near milepost 14 on U.S. Highway 191 in the northwestern section of Yellowstone.

Later that evening, a second adult male black bear was struck and killed by a vehicle at milepost 29 on U.S. Highway 191, the park said.

One elk and one bison were also hit by separate vehicles in the days since, Yellowstone said.


Speed enforcement


The park said they would be “significantly increasing speed enforcement” on U.S. Highway 191 in the park, where the speed limit is 55 mph. On most other park roads, the limit is 45 mph or less, Yellowstone said.

The park urged drivers to be careful at night, noting that animal fur absorbs light, making them harder to detect.

Yellowstone also warned visitors to keep their distance from the wildlife after a number of incidents were reported.

A man grabbed a struggling newborn bison calf and pushed it up from the river and onto the roadway in the northeastern section of the park on May 20.

The calf ended up being euthanized and the man pleaded guilty to one count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife, the US attorney’s office for Wyoming said on May 31.

Last year, two visitors were gored by bison after getting too close to the animals, the park said.

The park said they are investigating a range of other recent bison-related incidents.

Yellowstone emphasized that park regulations require visitors to remain 25 yards away from all wildlife and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

“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,” the park said in the release.

Paradise Afshar contributed to this story.

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Yellowstone urges visitors to protect wildlife after tourists put baby elk in their car