YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK — Since Memorial Day weekend, Yellowstone National Park (YNP) has reported numerous actions by visitors that have put people and wildlife at risk and resulted in multiple wildlife deaths.

Vehicle collisions

According to YNP, on May 28 at about 5 p.m. an adult male black bear was hit and killed by a vehicle in the northwestern section of the park. Later that same evening, a second adult male black bear was hit and killed by a vehicle.

In recent days, the park reported that one elk and one bison were hit by separate vehicles.

All these incidents are under investigation. YNP asks visitors to travel at 55 mph or less on U.S. 191; the legal speed on park roads is 45 mph or less. 

“Animal fur absorbs light, making them very difficult to see on roads at night, even while using bright headlights,” said YNP in a press release about the incidents. “The park will be significantly increasing speed enforcement on U.S. 191.”

Getting too close

According to YNP, on May 31 a Hawaii man pleaded guilty to intentionally disturbing wildlife by grabbing a struggling newborn bison calf and pushing it up from the river and onto the roadway in the northeastern section of the park. The incident resulted in the death of the calf.  

The park reports this is one of a number of other recent bison incidents being investigated.

Also during the Memorial Day weekend, YNP visitors placed an elk calf in their car and brought the newborn to the West Yellowstone, Montana, Police Department. YNP says the elk later ran off into the forest and its condition is unknown, though the incident is still under investigation. 

Yellowstone Pledge

YNP encourages all visitors to the park to know the Yellowstone Pledge to act responsibly and safely. Park regulations require that you stay at least 25 yards away from all wildlife including bison, elk and deer and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves. Disregarding these regulations can result in fines, injury and death. 

Learn more about safety in YNP here.

River is a contract news reporter with a passion for wildlife, the environment, and history. She’s also a gemini, dog mom, outdoor enthusiast, and published poet.