Tourism and wildlife: The case of an euthanized baby bison in Yellowstone

Tourism and wildlife: The case of an euthanized baby bison in Yellowstone

Sometimes not knowing the rules of engagement necessary for the coexistence between us and wild nature can be dramatic. So much so that you have to make very tough choices, as happened a few hours ago in Yellowstone National Park in the United States. Here, a herd of bison was fording the Lamar River in Wyoming in the northeast corner of the park when a cub fell behind losing its mother and isolating itself from the rest of the pack. A middle-aged man - according to the first reconstructions by the National Park Service - noticed the small isolated bison and intervened to push the animal from the river towards the road. That gesture, also immortalized in a photograph, cost the bison its life: park officials have in fact explained that, despite several attempts subsequently made, the herd refused to reintroduce the cub into the group, most likely precisely because it was touched and approached by the 'man.

After further attempts, the animal was put down. L'euthanasia, explain the Yellowstone operators, it became necessary given that the animal, disoriented, had begun to follow cars and people and "represented a danger to visitors". "L'interference from people can induce the wildlife to reject their offspring. In this case, park rangers have repeatedly tried to reunite the calf with the herd, but these efforts have failed," the park agency said in a statement. It is also now trying to identify the man responsible for the act.

Although the choice of rangers may appear difficult to accept, just as it has already aroused controversy on the part of animal rights activists, the park managers point out that there are clear regulations to be respected precisely to protect both humans and animals. For example, visitors must stay 25 meters from wild animals such as bison, elk or deer and at least 100 meters from bears and wolves. Getting close, they repeat, can drastically affect their well-being and survival.

"Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines, injury and even death. The safety of these animals, as well as the human one, depends on common sense and on everyone's respect for these simple rules" the park let us know. Unfortunately, episodes of this type are not isolated: in 2016 another bison calf, which had been loaded into the back of an SUV, it was later rejected by the herd and the year before a woman was injured while trying to take a selfie with a bison.

Meanwhile, still in the United States, due to a similar episode albeit in a different context, controversy is also growing over how humans interact with other animals, a symbol of New Zeland: kiwis. The Miami Zoo it is in fact under accusation, by the New Zealanders, after a video circulated in which it is shown how a young specimen is repeatedly touched and handled by tourists, as well as being exposed to artificial lights, keeping it forcibly awake.

A fact that outraged New Zealanders and for which even the government intervened, with officials who demanded and obtained an apology from the zoo for how the national symbol of their country was treated, a bird that belongs to an endangered species of extinction. From Miami they swear that the episode will never happen again and the little one Kiwi will be treated with the utmost respect.

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