A man tried to help a bison calf by helping it cross a river with its herd in Yellowstone National Park, park officials said. Now he’s pleaded guilty to disturbing wildlife and will pay a fine.
The Hawaii man “pleaded guilty to one count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife” and was charged a $500 fine, another $500 payment to the Yellowstone Forever Wildlife Protection Fund, $30 in a special assessment and $10 in processing fees, officials said in a May 31 news release.
Yellowstone tourist tries to help young bison – but it led to its death, rangers say
The man had approached the newborn calf, which had been separated from its mother, earlier this month near where the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek connect, McClatchy News previously reported. The calf was struggling, so he pushed it up from the river and onto a road, park rangers said.
While the man did not act “maliciously,” his behavior ultimately caused the death of the calf, officials said.
Visitors later told officials they saw the calf walk up to cars and follow people. Officials reminded the public that “approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival” because human interference can cause wildlife to reject their offspring.
Park rangers tried to reunite the calf with the herd, but it didn’t work. Park staff later killed the calf after it approached cars and people along the roadway, causing a “hazardous situation,” McClatchy News reported.
“We made the choice we did not because we are lazy, uncaring, or inexpert in our understanding of bison biology,” park officials said on Instagram. “We made the choice we did because national parks preserve natural processes.”
The park requires people to stay at least 75 feet away from any wildlife, including bison, elk and deer, and at least 300 feet away from bears and wolves.
“Disregarding these regulations can result in fines, injury and even death,” officials said in the release. “The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules.”