(RepublicanNews.org) – “Don’t feed the bears” is advice so commonly known that most people might think it doesn’t need repeating. But perhaps it’s time to add “don’t kidnap the elk” to the signage at U.S. national parks.
Rangers at Yellowstone national park say a visitor put a baby elk, or calf, in their car over Memorial Day weekend and brought it to the police department in West Yellowstone, Montana. The calf’s stay didn’t last long—park officials said the animal “ran off into the forest” and its condition was not known.
Park staff are investigating the incident, but it is not yet known why the motorists would have placed the wild animal in their car, let alone why they thought it should be driven to a police station.
Educating park visitors about the dangers from and to wildlife when humans come into contact with animals is an ongoing and uphill task for park rangers. Social media and video hosting sites are full of footage depicting tourists getting uncomfortably close to bison, elk, and grizzly bears as if the creatures were characters from an animated film.
A week before the elk-in-the-car incident, Yellowstone staff said a man “disturbed” a bison calf which resulted in the calf’s death. Despite efforts to reintroduce the calf to the herd, the bison rejected it after human contact. The man did not have a harmful motivation, park staff said, but humans must be careful when young wild animals try to “befriend” humans or get close to them.
And before that, a park visitor narrowly escaped being trampled by a buffalo after unwisely trying to pet the creature. The incident apparently occurred when a visitor was trying to take a selfie with the bison, which was grazing near a walkway for park visitors.
Yellowstone National Park advises that “calving season” is in swing, which means that mothers will be much more defensive and aggressive toward any humans they perceive to be threatening their young.
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