Man Punished After Bison Calf He Tried to Help Was Killed

Hawaii man pleaded guilty in Yellowstone incident
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2023 8:21 AM CDT
Updated Jun 1, 2023 12:30 AM CDT
UPDATE Jun 1, 2023 12:30 AM CDT

The man who tried to help a bison calf in Yellowstone, causing its herd to reject it and resulting in it ultimately being euthanized, pleaded guilty to a federal charge involving disturbing wildlife. The man, who was visiting the national park from Hawaii, was ordered to pay $1,000 to be split evenly between a fine and a payment to Yellowstone's wildlife protection fund, NBC News reports. As for why the calf was euthanized rather than sent to a sanctuary, the park says state and federal regulations prohibit bison being transferred out of Yellowstone unless it's for scientific research or meat processing.

May 24, 2023 8:21 AM CDT

A man's apparent effort to help a newborn bison calf in Yellowstone ended up causing the animal's death—and park officials are now looking for the man. The National Park Service says in a release that on Saturday evening, an unidentified man approached a calf that had gotten separated from its mother when the herd crossed the Lamar River. "As the calf struggled, the man pushed the calf up from the river and onto the roadway." Park visitors reported seeing the calf subsequently approach and follow cars and people.

NPS officials note that "interference by people can cause wildlife to reject their offspring," which was the case here. Despite repeated attempts to reunite the calf with the herd, the herd abandoned it, resulting in "a hazardous situation" that saw the calf continue to approach cars and people. As such, park staff had to put the animal down. Park regulations require that visitors keep a minimum of 25 yards away from bison, elk, and most other wildlife, and stay four times that distance from bears and wolves.

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NBC News notes that the park's website explains why it doesn't rescue animals that have been separated from their mothers. The release included an image of the man hoisting the bison calf and asked the public for information about the incident. The park told CNN the man could potentially be charged with disturbing wildlife, disorderly conduct, and approaching wildlife and could face up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine. (More Yellowstone National Park stories.)

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