In 2016, tourists were visiting Yellowstone National Park decided to put a calf in their vehicle because they thought it looked cold. Its herd rejected the calf, and the Park Rangers had to euthanize it because it kept getting close to cars and people walking on the roads.
This is just one example of what happens when tourists get too close to the animals they are observing. Here are a few things that can occur when tourists interfere with wildlife.
1. The Wildlife Becomes Too Comfortable with People and Are Abandoned
If people who are exploring wildlife on safari tools get too close to the animals, the animals become interested in them and start to follow them around. This behavior is not natural for wildlife species, and they might get abandoned by their group.
Animals cannot survive in the wild on their own and need their community to protect and provide for them, especially when they are young.
After the incident at the Yellowstone National Park, the Park Service explains that tourists maintain at least a distance of 25 yards from all wildlife for their own protection and the conservation of animals.
A spokesperson from the Service, Vanessa Lacayo, said, “Leave the animals and leave the wildlife alone because it can cause a serious, dangerous situation for them, their families…these are still wild places, these aren’t amusement parks…they need to be particularly careful when dealing with wildlife.”
2. Fatal Diseases Can Be Transferred from People to Animals
Another important reason for staying away from wildlife is the potential transmission of diseases between people and animals. These diseases can be transmitted both ways, and, in many parks, wildlife is dying from diseases that they got by having contact with humans or their pets.
For example, dogs and cats carry a particular microorganism called heart warm, which is fatal for wildlife such as footies, boxes, Bobcats, Wolves, and Mountain Lions. Similarly, ferrets can die from the common cold if they get too close to humans who have the flu.
3. Wildlife Can Get in the Habit of Eating Human Food
Animals are wild species, and in order to have a healthy diet, they need to scavenge, hunt and forage for food as they would in their natural habitats.
Sometimes, humans get too close to wildlife and offer them the food they are eating. This is dangerous for wildlife as they can become attracted to human food, a process called food conditioning.
In this case, if wildlife becomes too used to human foods, they actively search for human food and might become dangerous. For example, bears sometimes break into cars or dance to search for human food.
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