Seeing wildlife in their natural habitats is one of the draws of visiting national parks. As the National Park Service constantly reminds visitors, animals are there to observe from a distance—not to interact with. Unfortunately, one Yellowstone National Park visitor did not heed the warning. According to the NPS, because of an unidentified man's actions, authorities were forced to euthanize a bison calf.
In its news release, the park service said the calf was separated from its mother and herd while attempting to cross the Lamar River. "As the calf struggled, the man pushed the calf up from the river and onto the roadway," the NPS said in the news release.
Yellowstone regulations state that visitors must stay at least 25 yards from wildlife such as elk and bison, and stay at least 100 yards away from wolves and bears. The NPS said approaching wildlife has negative effects on their survival and well-being.
After the man left the calf up by the road, it was seen by visitors walking up to and following people and cars, endangering itself and others nearby, according to the NPS. "Interference by people can cause wildlife to reject their offspring," the NPS explained. Park rangers attempted to reunite the calf with the herd, but their efforts fell flat. "It was abandoned by its herd and was causing a hazardous situation to approaching cars and people along the roadway," the NPS wrote in the news release.
Authorities are actively looking for information on the man, and the park service released his image to the media. If he is identified, he can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine upon conviction. Charges would include approaching wildlife, disturbing wildlife, and disorderly conduct. If anyone has any information on the May 20 incident, the NPS encourages them to contact the National Park Tip Line.
Wildlife and visitors within Yellowstone have had some hairy interactions over the years. People attempting to take selfies or touch bison have been seriously injured, and one woman was even gored in an attack. It's best to give wildlife the space and respect they deserve. While national parks may be there for us to visit and enjoy, we need to remember it's home for these animals.