Yellowstone Forced to Euthanize Bison Calf After Visitor Touches Animal

Clare Fitzgerald
Photo Credit: Wolfgang Kaehler / LightRocket / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Wolfgang Kaehler / LightRocket / Getty Images

Park Rangers stationed in Yellowstone National Park are looking for the public’s assistance in identifying a man who came in direct content with a baby bison on May 20, 2023. The animal, which had to be euthanized after attempts to reunite it with its herd failed, is serving as an important reminder as to why humans shouldn’t touch wild animals.

American bison grazing on brown grass
Photo Credit: Nano Calvo / VWPics / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

The unidentified man, who Yellowstone describes as a “White male in his 40s-50s, wearing a blue shirt and black pants,” saw that the calf had become separated from its mother and herd while crossing the Lamar River, near Soda Butte Creek. A statement from the park reads, “As the calf struggled, the man pushed the calf up from the river and onto the roadway.”

Park rangers then noticed the animal had begun to approach cars and people along the road, “causing a hazardous situation.” All attempts to reunite the calf with its mother failed, with the park writing that the only course of action was to euthanize the bison.

Human interference when it comes to wild animals, particularly babies, can often result in mothers rejecting their offspring, leaving no humane option other than to put them down.

This hasn’t stopped members of the public for condemning the decision to euthanize the calf, leading Yellowstone to tweet out, “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.”

A separate page on the Yellowstone National Park website explains that federal and state regulations prohibit the transportation of bison out of the area, unless for scientific research or meat processing. As the calf was too young to fend or care for itself, park rangers couldn’t have quarantined it for use in starting a new herd.

It adds that the park “is a space for animals to live their lives with as little human intervention as possible in today’s world.”

Two American bison standing in a green field
Photo Credit: Will Powers / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

Under park regulations, visitors are required to remain at least 23 meters from all wildlife, including bison and elk, and 91 meters from more dangerous and reactive animals, such as bears and wolves. It should be noted that, over the years, several people have been gored by bison after getting too close to them or their herd.

More from us: Florida Man Startled After Coming Across Angry Iguana In Toilet

Yellowstone National Park law enforcement are asking the public to come forward if they have any information regarding the incident, which occurred in park’s northeastern section, located in Wyoming.

CNN reports the man could be charged with a class B misdemeanor and face up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.


Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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