Yellowstone officials euthanize bison calf after they say man 'intentionally disturbed' it
The NPS said the calf was separated from its mother while trying to cross a river when the man interfered and pushed the calf up from the river and onto the roadway, where the calf eventually became abandoned.
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. – Yellowstone National Park law enforcement officers are asking the public for information about an incident involving an unidentified man who they said "intentionally disturbed" a newborn bison calf, resulting in the animal's death.
In a statement released by the national park, officials said the unidentified man approached the newborn bison calf in Lamar Valley near the confluence of the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek in Wyoming on May 20.
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That calf, National Park Service officials said, was 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. After the man helped the calf, visitors said it began to walk up to and follow cars and people.
The NPS said park rangers repeatedly tried to reunite the calf with the herd, but those efforts failed. The NPS said visitors interfering with wildlife can cause animals to reject their offspring. They said the calf needed to be euthanized because it was abandoned and would cause a hazardous situation by approaching cars and people along the roadway.
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"This is a conversation that is difficult to have on social media," the NPS said on Twitter while responding to questions about why the animal wasn't sent to a sanctuary or zoo.
"We made the choice we did because national parks preserve natural processes," officials said in the statement.
The statement said that up to 25% of the bison calves born this spring will die, and those deaths will benefit other animals in a circle of life. The ranger that euthanized the calf left the animal's carcass on the landscape.
It is also against federal and state law to transport bison out of the park unless they're going to meat processing or scientific research facilities, according to the statement.
"Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival," the NPS said in a news release. "Park regulations require that people stay at least 25 yards away from all wildlife (including bison, elk and deer) and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves."
The NPS added that anyone disregarding those rules and regulations could face fines.
"The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules," the NPS continued.
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Video shows men approaching bison at Yellowstone National Park
This isn't the first time the NPS has had to warn visitors to stay away from wildlife.
Earlier this month, a video recorded inside Yellowstone National Park showed men approaching wild bison.
The video, recorded by emergency room nurse Heidi Irby, shows the men breaching park guidance and approaching the wild animals and coming within touching distance so that they could snap a few photos.
In the background of the video, Irby can be heard saying, "Are they serious? Oh my God. I’m going to be a first responder."
Then, as the men moved closer to the bison, Irby could be heard saying, "Dude, that thing will kill you!"
In general, the NPS warns that if an animal reacts to your presence, you’re too close.
"And if you’re close enough for a selfie, you’re definitely too close," the NPS said.