Yellowstone National Park rangers had to shoot and kill a coyote that was running up to park visitors and stealing food out of their hands in January 2021.
Yellowstone National Park Ranger Tim Townsend said, “We tried to do some aversive conditioning,” by trying to scare it away but it wasn’t working. The rangers even tried shooting it with something similar to a paintball gun, as well, but it continued to approach and harass visitors in the park.
“It actually grabbed a bag of food out of a visitor’s hand,” Ranger Townsend reported, according to KBZK Bozeman MT News.
It was also starting to get aggressive so to protect visitors, rangers decided to kill the coyote. Rangers said it’s sad that they had to do it but it could have lead to someone getting seriously injured. It’s not the coyote’s fault either they said, it’s the person’s fault who was feeding it in the past and teaching it that food can be gotten from humans.
“Coyotes are incredibly smart animals,” Ranger Townsend added. “It doesn’t take very many times for an animal to get fed before it’s probably its death sentence.”
According to Yellowstone officials, visitors feeding wild animals has been a problem for over 100 years. When one person feeds a wild animal, it oftentimes approaches humans again after that and tries to get food from them leading to the animal being euthanized.
“They don’t unlearn that behavior,” Ranger Townsend said. “If you were able to relocate them, they’re going to have that behavior wherever they go.”