Thursday, March 22, 2018

Baffled by stupidity

The stupidity of the human condition seems to know no bounds. I’m constantly baffled by incidents where common sense seems to be a mere afterthought in a person’s actions.
The latest incident at Yellowstone National Park involving a bison calf immediately comes to mind. For those not familiar with the incident, last week, a father and his son “rescued” a bison calf in the Lamar Valley that looked wet and cold.
Thinking they were doing the animal a service, they delivered the animal to a ranger station for protection. Park personnel then returned the calf to the area from where it was taken and tried to reunite it with the herd.
Unfortunately, it was abandoned and then created a hazard by wanting to approach vehicles and people along the road. The calf was subsequently euthanized. Mother Nature is a marvelous thing, but even she can’t protect her creatures against random acts of ignorance and foolishness by humans.
Park personnel were immediately criticized in some circles because they didn’t attempt to relocate it out of the Park. Even though it’s not their mission to rescue wildlife, in order to ship the calf out of the Park, it would have had to go through months of quarantine to be monitored for brucellosis.
The Park has no approved quarantine facilities at this time, nor do they have the capacity to care for a calf that’s too young to forage on its own.
Incidents involving visitors interfering with wildlife seems to be on the increase. They may just be more highly publicized in this age of social media. It used to be that people were getting too close to wildlife to take a picture or were trying to pose their kids with a bison or elk. Now in the era of the cellphone selfie, things seem to only have gotten worse.
My perception is that many visitors are under the impression that the Park is some sort of giant managed petting zoo, with the wildlife all tame and there to be interacted with like a domesticated animal.
Plenty of regulations are in place governing one’s behavior in the Park. Current Park regulations require visitors to stay at least 25 yards away from all wildlife (including bison, elk and deer) and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.
My concern is that incidents like these will result in a knee jerk reaction, creating further regulation (and subsequent cost to the visitors), as well as a drain on already limited resources. We can’t legislate against every conceivable act of idiocy.
Yellowstone will soon celebrate its 145th year of existence. It was created by an act of Congress in 1872 as our first national park, and is generally recognized as the first national park in the world as well.
With about three million visitors annually, it’s probably amazing that there aren’t more incidents involving wildlife.
Nonetheless, why can’t visitors just enjoy the Park without screwing with it and doing stupid stuff?

Chris Fleck