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Staff at Yellowstone National Park were forced to euthanize a bison calf over the weekend after an unfortunate incident that is now under investigation.
According to the park, an unidentified man in his 40s or 50s approached the newborn bison calf as it struggled in the water near the confluence of the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek.
“The calf had been separated from its mother when the herd crossed the Lamar River,” the park explained in a statement. “As the calf struggled, the man pushed the calf up from the river and onto the roadway.”
(News Release) Yellowstone law enforcement officers investigate incident of a man intentionally disturbing a bison calf; incident results in death of calf. Visitors: Respect wildlife by giving them room to roam. More: https://t.co/A8mJc9WeaR— Yellowstone National Park (@YellowstoneNPS) May 23, 2023
Photo courtesy / Hellen Jack pic.twitter.com/qpiFmYFaKP
While the calf escaped the water, the lone human interaction reportedly led to the animal walking up to and following cars and people in the hours that followed.
“Interference by people can cause wildlife to reject their offspring,” the park’s statement added. “In this case, park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the calf with the herd. These efforts failed.”
Sadly, the calf was eventually euthanized by parks staff because “it was abandoned by the herd and causing a hazardous situation by approaching cars and people along the roadway.”
When Yellowstone posted about the incident online, the park was inundated with feedback with the most common question being why the animal wasn’t relocated.
“Federal and state regulations prohibit the transport of bison out of Yellowstone unless those bison are going to meat processing or scientific research facilities,” explained a reply from the park on social media.
“The use of quarantine for a newborn calf that's abandoned and unable to care for itself is not a good candidate.”
Yellowstone law enforcement officers continue to investigate the matter and are still trying to identify the man who they say “intentionally disturbed” the calf, which led to its death.