After a visitor ‘rescues’ a calf from the Lamar River, its herd rejects it and rangers euthanize
Successful coexistence with wildlife requires education. Our feelings can often lead us astray when we try to help wildlife – this recent story of rangers euthanizing a bison calf is a good example. Something similar happened in 2016 when some tourists thought a bison calf looked cold so they put it in their car. Even well-meaning actions can have disastrous consequences for wildlife.
Another good example is feeding wildlife in the winter. It is easy to feel sorry for the deer or moose struggling to survive the winter, and many believe they are helping wildlife by feeding them. In reality, nutritious food in the winter can be deadly to ungulates who have adapted over millennia to eat low quality forage in the winter.
Unfortunately, the closest many people have gotten to wildlife like we have here is at a zoo or circus – often making people feel comfortable to approach wildlife. Our efforts to sustainably coexist with wildlife need to include educating ourselves about how to appropriately live, travel, and recreate in this special place. And we need to find effective ways to help visitors understand how this place is drastically different from a zoo or circus, and help them understand that allowing natural processes to play out, even if hard to watch, will ultimately lead to better human-wildlife coexistence in the long-term.
Our friends at the Grizzly 399 Project just published this Wildlife Safety Guide to help with this effort. Please download and share widely!
The Alliance is just about to launch our Human-Wildlife Coexistence report, where we compile 20 metrics of human-wildlife coexistence for Teton County – from human-bear conflicts to invasive species, we look at metrics that matter for coexistence. The 20 metrics presented represent a starting point for monitoring and stewarding the incredible natural capital of this area. By establishing this baseline, future monitoring, research, dialogue, and action can be targeted toward root challenges, evolving opportunities, and a united community vision of human-wildlife coexistence in Teton County.
Watch this space for our Human-Wildlife Coexistence Report launch in June!