CASPER, Wyo. — Yellowstone law enforcement officers are asking the public for information about an incident that occurred on the evening of May 20, in which an unidentified man intentionally disturbed a newborn bison calf, resulting in its death.
The incident took place in the park’s northeast corner.
The male appeared to be between the ages of 40 and 50, park personnel say. In footage of the incident, he was seen wearing a blue shirt and black pants.
According to the park staff, the man approached a newborn bison calf in Lamar Valley 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. As the calf struggled, the man pushed the calf up from the river and onto the roadway. Visitors later observed the calf walk up to and follow cars and people.
Interference by people can cause wildlife to reject their offspring. In this case, park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the calf with the herd. These efforts failed. 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.
Yellowstone stated that it euthanized the bison calf instead of caring for it or sending it to a sanctuary because federal and state regulations prohibit the transport of bison out of Yellowstone unless those bison are going to meat processing or scientific research facilities.
Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival. Park regulations require that people stay at least 25 yards away from all wildlife (including bison, elk and deer) and 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.
This incident is under investigation. If you were in Lamar Valley on the evening of May 20, 2023, and have information that could help this investigation, please contact the Yellowstone National Park Tip Line at 307-344-2132 or YELL_Tip@nps.gov.