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There seems to be some confusion around what to do if you encounter an animal in the wild. And with summer on the horizon, we just wanted to clear that up.

Case in point: This week, tourists in Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. were concerned for the safety of a bison calf they encountered during their visit. They believed that the animal had been abandoned, so they loaded it into their vehicle and transported it to a park facility in an effort to help it. Even though their intentions were good, the action led to the calf’s mother rejecting it from the herd. After rangers made repeated attempts to reunite it with its mother, they were forced to euthanize it.

It may be a sad story, but it’s far from an isolated incident. There was a man last year who jumped on the back of a moose while it was swimming in a lake. Or the people who killed a baby dolphin when they started passing it around to take selfies in Argentina. Parks Canada also dishes out fines every year for people who feed or otherwise inappropriately interact with wildlife.

Like we said, there’s clearly some confusion.

That’s why this year, we’re going to keep it really simple. Like super simple, so that no one will have an excuse for not doing the right thing if they encounter a wild animal. It’s just one step–one thing to keep in mind. Are you ready for it? Are you sure? OK, here it goes:

Rule #1: Leave the animals alone.

There, easy. And it really is that simple, folks. You can still obviously look at animals when you see them in the wild (preferably from a safe distance), you can even take pictures. But do not feed, touch or otherwise physically interfere with the animal–ever. Even if you believe an animal is hurt, do not, under any circumstance, attempt to help it yourself. Instead, get the professionals involved: Call Animal Control or alert a park ranger.

We understand that the idea of interacting with a wild animal can be appealing. We’re not trying to ruin your fun. But these are wild animals, not domesticated cats and dogs. And the more people interfere in their lives, the more comfortable around humans they become, and that’s what makes the animals potentially dangerous.

So this year, even if you have the best of intentions, please leave the wildlife alone. The animals will thank you.


WATCH: Animals aren’t the only thing to stay away from. Take a lesson from these YouTubers who are in hot water for getting too close to a hot spring.


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