Six Years After Bison Placed In Minivan, Wildlife Officials Plead With Public To Leave Animals Alone

Wildlife officials have sent out a reminder that "rescuing" wild animals is a bad idea. Six years ago, tourists placed a bison calf in their minivan because they thought it looked cold. Days later the calf was euthanized because the mother abandoned it.

Jimmy Orr

June 07, 20223 min read

Bison minivan 6 7 22 scaled
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

It doesn’t seem that long ago, but it’s been six years since a photo of a bison calf placed in the back of a minivan went viral.

It was placed there because tourists thought it looked cold. After all, the high temperature that day in Yellowstone was only 50 degrees and the low was 39.

A couple of tourists, however, were certain the calf was “freezing and dying.”

So to “rescue” the animal, they loaded it up and took it to a ranger station.

Turns out the bison only needed rescuing from the tourists, as it was euthanized shortly thereafter due to its mother rejecting him because of the rescuers’ interference.

As a result, every year the Wyoming Game and Fish department puts out an annual plea for potential rescuers to leave baby wildlife alone as human “help” rarely is helpful.

Even if the animal looks abandoned, it’s not. 

“The mothers knows where her young are and will almost certainly return to care for them,” said Will Schultz, Game and Fish biologist.

“With all animals, the first few weeks of life are the most critical in determining their survival and interference from humans can most definitely put their lives at risk,” he said.

Don’t Mess With Mom

Even worse than getting away with attempting to help newborn wildlife is getting caught by the mother.

Wyoming artist Andy Robbins knows this. That’s why he put together a graphic coloring book warning tourists to leave animals alone.

“This coloring book isn’t for everyone!” the preface reads. “It depicts scenes of graphic violence, including disembowelment, dismemberment, electrocution, and immolation. Recommended for mature colorists only!”

The Hard Way

The maternal instinct is nothing to play around with. A grizzly learned that the hard way last week when snooping around a baby moose at Glacier National Park.

The momma moose had no patience and took off after the bear near a parking lot at the Many Glacier Hotel.  

So panicked was the bear that he ended up slamming into a hotel window before finally running away.

The bear had it coming, if we’re keeping score, as it was successful in pilfering one of the moose calves earlier in the day. 

Two months earlier, a snowmobiler tried to pet a moose and paid dearly for it.
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Jimmy Orr

Executive Editor

A third-generation Wyomingite, Jimmy Orr is the executive editor and co-founder of Cowboy State Daily.