Yellowstone National Park bison calf euthanized after tourist assisting struggling wild animal to cross river caused it to be rejected by herd.
A newborn bison calf at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming had to be euthanized after a tourist tried to help the struggling wild animal cross a river — only to cause it to be rejected by its herd.
The ‘unfortunate incident’ occurred Saturday evening when the newborn bison calf became separated from its mother when the herd crossed the swollen river in Yellowstone’s northeast corner near the meeting point of the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek, the National Park Service said.
As the baby bison struggled in the rushing waters, an unidentified park visitor, described as a man in his 40s or 50s, wearing a blue shirt and black pants, jumped in the water and pushed the calf up and onto a roadway (see image above).
Wild animal rejected by the herd
The park released a photo showing the misguided Good Samaritan lifting the small bison from the river.
Witnesses said the man then proceeded to pet the shivering baby bison, as did other visitors, reported Cowboy State Daily.
The days-old calf and its mother were seen calling to one another as the rest of the herd waited on the other side of the river.
‘Visitors later observed the calf walk up to and follow cars and people,’ park officials stated.
Park rangers made repeated attempts to reunite the calf with the herd, but to no avail, according to the press release, which noted that interference by people ‘can cause wildlife to reject their offspring.’
‘The calf was later killed by park staff because it was abandoned by the herd and causing a hazardous situation by approaching cars and people along the roadway,’ officials continued.
2016 episode saw baby bison also euthanized
Cowboy Daily News reported that a single gunshot was heard, after which the calf vanished.
The Park Service reminded visitors that its regulations require that people stay at least 25 yards away from all wildlife, including bison and elk, and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.
‘Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival,’ they warned.
The Park Service said law enforcement officials are seeking information about the baby bison incident.
If the man who disturbed the young calf is located, he could potentially face a misdemeanor charge carrying a sentence of up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The incident echoes that of a 2016 episode which saw Yellowstone park rangers forced to euthanize a young bison calf after being hoisted in the back of an SUV and driving the animal to a rangers station after finding the animal shivering on its own. Despite attempts by rangers to re-unite the calf with the herd, other bison rejected it, forcing the animal to be put down.