Officials at Yellowstone National Park say they were forced to put down a newborn bison calf after another unfortunate encounter between a park visitor and wildlife, according to a release from the National Park Service.
On Saturday evening, an unidentified man disturbed a bison calf after it was separated from its mother and herd when crossing the Lamar River in the park, the news release said.
“As the calf struggled, the man pushed the calf up from the river and onto the roadway,” NPS said in the news release.
Park regulations state that people need to stay at least 25 yards away from bison, elk and most other wildlife and 100 yards away from bears and wolves. Approaching wild animals can affect their well-being and their survival, NPS said.
The calf was later seen by visitors walking up to and following both cars and people, creating a hazard for those nearby, NPS said.
“Interference by people can cause wildlife to reject their offspring,” NPS said. After park rangers failed in their attempt to reunite the calf with its herd,they decided to euthanize the calf as “it was abandoned by its herd and was causing a hazardous situation to approaching cars and people along the roadway,” the news release said.
Yellowstone National Park released an image of the unidentified man lifting the bison calf from the river in the press release.
If found guilty of any wrongdoing, the man could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor and could face up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine, Yellowstone National Park told CNN. The charge would include disturbing wildlife, disorderly conduct, and approaching wildlife, the park added.
NPS is asking for anyone who was in the area on May 20 and has any information to contact the Yellowstone National Park Tip Line.
Visitors at Yellowstone have previously interacted with bison and been injured severely, including at least three in May and June of 2022. In one instance, a 71-year-old woman was gored by a bison one day after another visitor was injured by different bison.