MAMMOTH, Wyo. >> A man from Hawaii pleaded guilty today to a charge alleging he picked up a bison calf in Yellowstone National Park, causing the animal’s herd to reject it and leading park officials to kill it rather than allow it to be a hazard to visitors.
A federal magistrate judge ordered the man to pay a $500 fine and make a $500 payment to the Yellowstone Forever Wildlife Protection Fund for the charge of intentionally disturbing wildlife, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Wyoming said.
Prosecutors said the man approached a struggling newborn bison calf, which had been separated from its mother when the herd crossed the Lamar River on May 20. He pushed the calf up from the river and onto the nearby roadway.
Human interference with young wildlife can cause animals to shun their offspring. Park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the calf with the herd but were unsuccessful. The calf was killed by park staff because it was approaching people and cars on the road.
There was nothing in the investigation to suggest the man had acted maliciously, park officials said.
However, park regulations require people stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) away from most wildlife, including bison, elk and deer and 100 yards (91 meters) away from bears and wolves, for the safety of both visitors and the animals.
The situation was similar to one in 2016, when a Canadian man and his son put a newborn calf in their SUV because they thought it had been abandoned and would die without their help. The man pleaded guilty, was fined $235 and ordered to pay $500 to a Yellowstone park wildlife protection fund.