Our house sits on about seven acres. One day, not long after we moved here, I was wandering up our back hill. Suddenly, I stopped. One more step and my foot would have landed on a fawn! This little baby deer was laying motionless, still breathing but giving no sign that it was conscious or aware of me. I knew better than to touch it, but I was quite concerned when I realized a mother deer was not nearby.
I waited about an hour, then climbed the hill again. The baby was exactly where it had been before. Still no mama in sight. Hours later, there was still no sign of her. I assumed she would be back, but I was a little worried. Could the doe have been run off by a dog, or hit by a car? I love animals, and couldn't help but
worry about this little deer.
However, I did NOT try to touch it or move it or feed it. Instead, I decided to consult an expert to ask if there was anything either their department or I should do. I called Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and explained my concern. They assured me the mother would be back. Apparently, does often go off in search of food and leave their young; the babies know to curl up and stay still if approached. Sure enough, the next day the fawn was gone.
I was reminded of almost stumbling on this little deer when I read a newspaper article this week about a tragic occurrence in Yellowstone National Park. Tourists may have had good intentions, but they meddled in something they didn't understand and caused the unfortunate death of the very animal they were trying to save.
It was reported that on May 9th, 2016 some Yellowstone Park tourists became concerned that a newborn bison calf was cold, so they put it in the back of their vehicle and took it to the ranger's station. Their actions led to a $110 fine for them and the death of the poor little calf.
Visitors to Yellowstone Park "must stay at least 100 yards from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards from other large animals." (Bison are considered a 'large' animals.) This rule is meant to protect humans from becoming injured by the animals, which are all wild and unpredictable. The purpose of the rule is also to protect the animals who live in the park from humans. Did you know bison can sprint up to 30 mph; three times faster than a human can run?
Apparently, as a result of being handled, the bison cub was rejected by the herd and attempts to reunite it with them failed. The calf continued to approach people and cars, so it had to be euthanized. This could have been avoided if the tourists had just left it where it was and found a ranger, reported the situation and explained their concern. The ranger would surely have explained that newborn bison calves can survive much colder temperatures than the weather had been that day.
Sometimes our good intentions are not enough. Both my story about the solitary little fawn and this recent event in Yellowstone clearly illustrate that wildlife should be left alone.
Have you ever approached a wild animal?
How did that work out?