- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, May 18, 2016

Rules protect both visitors and wildlife

Tourism season has barely started and already there’s alarming behavior by visitors to our national parks. Their intentions might be good but their actions violate park rules and the laws of nature.

Two visitors to Yellowstone National Park last week thought a newborn bison calf needed help and loaded it in their vehicle and took it to a park facility. Unfortunately, efforts by park officials to return the calf to the herd failed and it had to be euthanized. The calf had been wandering between vehicles and approaching people, posing a danger.

Park officials said even if the calf could have been rehabilitated, it would have required months of quarantine to test for brucellosis, and Yellowstone does not have the facilities needed to monitor the calf. “Nor is it the mission of the National Park Service to rescue animals,” officials said on Facebook, adding, “Our goal is to maintain the ecological processes of Yellowstone.”

The visitors who picked up the calf were cited for their actions. They should have never handled the calf and, if they had followed park regulations, never been close to it. Yellowstone regulations require visitors to be at least 25 yards away from all wildlife such as bison, elk and deer and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves. Park officials can fine tourists for violating the rules and the wildlife can hurt, and kill, those who violate the rules.

Yellowstone has been fascinating tourists for decades and the temptation to get close to the animals and even feed them has always existed. The danger existed when the park opened and it won’t go away. These can be dangerous animals and if disturbed, they will defend themselves. Some visitors violating the rules aren’t shy about it, with park officials noting some recent Internet videos showing visitors approaching bison at “extremely unsafe and illegal distances.”

Five visitors were seriously injured last year after getting too close to wildlife, according to park officials. And it’s not just Yellowstone, other parks across the country are having problems. A 50-year-old Missouri woman was hospitalized last week after being gored in the stomach by a bison in Custer State Park in South Dakota. Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota warns visitors not to feed animals and to view wildlife from a distance because they can attack without warning. There have been encounters with bison at the park.

The parks provide an opportunity for tourists to see wildlife in their habitat. The only chance many people from urban areas have to see animals in a natural setting. It’s a lot different than going to a zoo. Since there are no cages, visitors need to follow the rules. Those rules, officials point out, are pretty simple. Keep your distance, don’t feed them and don’t harass them.

It’s for the safety of the people and the animals. By taking the calf away from the herd the visitors destroyed its connection with the other bison and doomed it. The story of the calf has gone viral on the Internet along with being covered by newspapers and other media around the world. Hopefully it will remind people tempted to push the rules not to do so. Not a happy ending for the calf, but maybe improved behavior by visitors.


Minot Daily News, Minot, May 16, 2016

Consider teens for jobs this summer

It’s not a groundbreaking observation to point out that many businesses are very much in need of good employees in Minot.

In just a couple of weeks, students will be out of school for summer break. This presents a good opportunity for a win-win decision. This year, if you’re in need of an employee, consider hiring a teenager, even if it will only be for a few months before high school starts again or graduates go off to college.

Many teens will be encouraged to work this summer, and congratulations to those who do and for parents who advocate for employment. Young people need the challenge, the discipline and the responsibility that come with work. Young people who develop a work ethic and even the basic skills required for employment will have a distinct advantage in college and/or the adult work environment for years to come. In a world where self-esteem is too often considered a commodity to be handed out with participation trophies, earning the real thing through hard work, determination and accomplishment is at a premium.

There are certainly jobs seen as being quintessentially for teens - the service industry and fast food in particular. But it isn’t just these businesses in Minot that are clamoring for employees. Teens can do more than flip burgers and the right one can help with all sorts of needs, from office work to beginning to learn a trade or profession over the course of a summer of helping out.

Besides the advantages to students and to employers, it also benefits the community to hire a teen this summer. Idle time isn’t always a great thing and we know that today there are too many ways for young people to get in trouble.

Whether it’s for a traditional summer gig, helping upgrade a home or helping with office work, Minot businesses are encouraged to consider filling the multitude of open positions with a young person this summer. It might not serve to address long-term employment challenges, but it will do a lot of good in the meantime.


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