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Yellowstone National Park: Visitors should be cautious on roadways, leave wildlife alone

The actions of some visitors have led to the endangerment of people and wildlife in Yellowstone National Park, resulting in a call by park officials for visitors to protect wildlife and respect safety regulations.

(Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Recent wildlife incidents at Yellowstone National Park have resulted in park officials calling visitors to protect wildlife and respect safety regulations. 

Yellowstone National Park provides millions of visitors with one of the greatest wildlife viewing displays in North America, according to the National Park Service. 

“In recent days, some actions by visitors have led to the endangerment of people and wildlife and resulted in the death of wildlife,” the NPS said in a June 2 release. “The park calls on visitors to protect wildlife by understanding how their actions can negatively impact wildlife.”

In late May, a Hawaii man pleaded guilty to intentionally disturbing wildlife in the park after he grabbed a struggling newborn bison calf and pushed it up onto the roadway. His actions, NPS says, resulted in the death of the calf. 

(Photo courtesy of Yellowstone National Park)

Other visitors reportedly placed a newborn elk calf in their vehicle and took it to the West Yellowstone, Montana, Police Department over Memorial Day weekend. The elk later ran off into the forest and its condition is unknown. 

The park has documented two incidents of visitors coming too close to bison and being gored as a result in recent days, per the NPS. 

Two black bears, a bison and an elk were struck by vehicles on U.S. Highway 191. Both bears were killed, one after being struck at milepost 14 and the other at milepost 29. The condition of the bison and elk were not released by the NPS, which says the incidents are under investigation and there is no additional information to share. 

According to the NPS, motorists on Highway 191 must travel at 55 mph or less; the speed limit on most other park roads is 45 mph. At night, visitors should exercise further caution because animal fur absorbs light and makes them difficult to see on roadways, even with the use of bright headlights.  

Additionally, the park will be significantly increasing speed enforcement on U.S. 191 in the coming days, per the NPS. 

“Protect Yellowstone National Park by taking the Yellowstone Pledge, act responsibly and safely, and set a good example for others,” NPS says. “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.”