YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. — A father and son were reportedly ticketed at Yellowstone National Park after they placed a bison calf in the back of their SUV in an attempt to protect it from the cold.
A mother chaperoning a school group that witnessed the calf in the vehicle posted her account on Facebook, which quickly made the rounds on news sites and social media.
The two visitors were clearly ill-informed as bison are perfectly suited to exist in that environment.
But while their heart was in the right place, the father and son were also unaware of the effect their actions could have on the rest of the herd, and that’s where the story takes a grim turn.
East Idaho News reports that rangers made the tourists return the calf to where they picked it up, but it was rejected by the herd.
Rangers had no choice but to euthanize the newborn calf after attempts to reunite it with the herd failed. Abandoned, the young bison began to create a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars on the road.
The event highlights a major problem for park rangers and natural wildlife. Visitors approaching wildlife are not only a danger to people, as adult animals are very protective of their young, but also a danger to the animals themselves.
Yellowstone regulations prohibit visitors from approaching wildlife and say tourists should stay at least 25 yards away from large animals such as bison, elk and deer, and at least 100 yards from bears and wolves, according to the National Park Service website.
Bison seriously injured five visitors last year at Yellowstone, more than any other animal.