Here's the Full Story About the Baby Bison That Died

Wildlife photographer condemns neither the tourists nor Yellowstone
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2016 4:48 PM CDT
Here's the Full Story About the Baby Bison That Died
An American bison calf walks with its surrogate mother at the Bronx Zoo in 2012. People were outraged after a motherless bison calf was euthanized at Yellowstone this year.   (AP Photo/Wildlife Conservation Society, Julie Larsen Maher)

Many people were outraged after a bison calf was euthanized at Yellowstone National Park after two well-meaning but misguided tourists put it into a car in an attempt to save it. But most people don't know the full story, writes wildlife photographer Deby Dixon in the Washington Post. As Dixon explains, it's not uncommon for calves to become orphaned or separated from their mothers, and when that happens, the calf will eventually die because no other cow will take it on. That's the "heartbreaking" reality of life in the wild at Yellowstone, where officials won't intervene in the natural order of things unless humans get involved in some way first. Dixon describes the sad scenes involving orphaned calves that she's witnessed before, and notes that she actually saw this doomed calf days before the tourists picked it up and immediately realized its sad but inevitable fate.

She doesn't condemn the tourists who picked it up, because "they thought that they were doing the right thing—because out there on the other side of Yellowstone’s boundaries, people help wildlife all of the time." They also couldn't possibly have realized that no matter what they did, the calf's fate was sealed. Neither does she condemn the park service for euthanizing the calf, which was "a kind ending"—the only other choice was to "let people stand by and watch this creature perish or be killed, or cause an accident by running into the road." This is why we need more educational programs about nature, she writes. "Our job is to accept nature on nature’s terms," she writes, and, even though it can be devastating, that means not interfering with "the way of the wild." Dixon's full piece, and her pictures of the bison calf days before its death, here. (More Yellowstone National Park stories.)

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