A man has been fined more than $1,000 after he tried to help a bison calf that became separated from its herd in Yellowstone National Park.
On May 20, Hawaii man Clifford Walters approached a bison calf that was struggling across a river near Lamar Valley.
He proceeded to push the calf out of the river and onto the road. This caused the calf to become rejected by its herd, which can happen when humans interfere with wildlife.
Visitors later saw the calf wandering the road, following cars and approaching people.
Park rangers tried to reunite the calf with its herd multiple times but to no avail. It was subsequently euthanized as it was causing a hazard to park visitors.
Walters pleaded guilty to intentionally disturbing wildlife on Wednesday, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie A. Hambrick, Yellowstone National Park said in a news release.
He was ordered to pay $500 in fines, $500 in a community service payment to the park’s Forever Wildlife Protection Fund, a $30 special assessment and a $10 processing fee.
Although Walters did not act maliciously, Yellowstone National Park is reminding visitors not to approach any wild animals.
The park requires everyone to stay at least 25 yards away from bison, elk and deer at all times. It is required they stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.
“Disregarding these regulations can result in fines, injury and even death. The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules,” the park said.
Interference from people can “drastically affect their wellbeing and in this case, their survival,” the park said in the news release.
In Yellowstone, the bison population ranges from 2,300 to 5,500 animals. Bison are responsible for more injuries in Yellowstone National Park than any other animal as they are huge and can become aggressive if they feel threatened.
The park explained that federal and state regulations prohibit the transport of bison out of Yellowstone, meaning it was not possible for the calf to be taken to a zoo or wildlife sanctuary.
“It’s important to understand that national parks are very different than animal sanctuaries or zoos. We made the choice we did, not because we are lazy, uncaring, or inexpert in our understanding of bison biology. We made the choice we did because national parks preserve natural processes,” the park said in a previous statement.
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