A misguided tourist’s attempts to help a newborn bison cross a river ended in tragedy when the animal had to be euthanised.
The calf was killed after being rejected by its herd following the human interaction at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
In an “unfortunate incident” on Saturday, the newborn bison calf became separated from its mother as the herd crossed the swollen Lamar River, according to the National Park Service.
An unidentified park visitor decided to intervene as the baby bison struggled in the fast-flowing water by jumping in and pushing the calf up onto a roadway.
The man, who was wearing a blue shirt and black pants and was described as being in his 40s or 50s, then proceeded to pet the shivering animal – as did other bystanders.
The park released a photo showing the misguided good Samaritan lifting the small bison from the river.
The calf, thought to be only days old, was seen calling to its mother as the herd waited on the river’s opposite bank.
“Visitors later observed the calf walk up to and follow cars and people,” park officials said.
Rangers then made repeated attempts to reunite the calf with its herd but it was repeatedly rejected.
A press release noted that interference by people “can cause wildlife to reject their offspring”.
“The calf was later killed by park staff because it was abandoned by the herd and causing a hazardous situation by approaching cars and people along the roadway,” officials continued.
Cowboy Daily News reported that a single gunshot was heard, after which the calf wasn’t seen again.
Visitors to Yellowstone were reminded by the Park Service that its regulations require people to stay at least 25 yards away from all wildlife, including bison and elk, and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.
“Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival,” they warned.
Law enforcement officials are looking into the incident and are requesting anyone with information to come forward.
The man who attempted to help the calf could face a misdemeanour charge if he is located, which carries a sentence of up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
This article by David Clark was first published by The Daily Star on 25 May 2023. Lead Image: The calf had become separated from its herd by a swollen river (Image: Getty Images).
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