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Yellowstone Park officials issue call for visitors to "protect, respect" wildlife

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Posted at 9:47 AM, Jun 02, 2023

(Yellowstone National Park Press Release)

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. – Yellowstone provides millions of visitors one of the greatest wildlife viewing displays in North America. 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 calls on visitors to protect wildlife by understanding how their actions can negatively impact wildlife.

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.

Park regulations require that you 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. Disregarding these regulations can result in fines, injury, and even death.

The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules.

Reduce your speed on park roads.

Black bears

On May 28 at about 5 p.m., an adult male black bear [nps.gov] was struck and killed by a vehicle near milepost 14 on U.S. Highway 191 [nps.gov] in the northwestern section of the park. Later that same evening, a second adult male black bear was struck and killed by a vehicle at milepost 29 on U.S. Highway 191. Both bears were dark chocolate brown in color.

In recent days, one elk and one bison were hit by separate vehicles.

These incidents are under investigation and there is no additional information to share.

Visitors are reminded to travel at 55 mph or less on U.S. 191. In general, the legal speed on park roads is 45 mph or less. Use extra caution at night. Animal fur absorbs light, making them very difficult to see on roads at night, even while using bright headlights. The park will be significantly increasing speed enforcement on U.S. 191.

Stay away from wildlife.

Bison

On May 31 a Hawaii man pleaded guilty to intentionally disturbing wildlife in the park. The 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. The incident resulted in the death of the calf.

RELATED: Man pleads guilty to disturbing bison calf in Yellowstone National Park

There are a range of other recent bison [nps.gov] incidents that the park is investigating.

Last year there were two known incidents of visitors getting too close to bison resulting in the animals responding to the perceived threat by goring the individuals. Bison are unpredictable and can run three times faster than humans.

Elk calf

During the Memorial Day weekend, visitors placed an elk [nps.gov] calf in their car while likely driving on U.S. Highway 191 in the park and brought the newborn to the West Yellowstone, Montana, Police Department. The elk later ran off into the forest and its condition is unknown. This incident is under investigation and there is no additional information to share.

Take the Yellowstone Pledge

Protect Yellowstone National Park by taking the Yellowstone Pledge [nps.gov], act responsibly and safely, and set a good example for others. If you see someone, in person or online, whose behavior might hurt them, others, or the park, tell a ranger. If you’re in the park, dial 911.

Thank You

To the millions of visitors that act upon the Yellowstone Pledge, follow the rules and protect the park, the wildlife sincerely thank you.