YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. — A man who approached a struggling bison calf and pushed it out of a river in Yellowstone National Park, starting a chain of events that led to the calf's death, pleaded guilty on Wednesday.
Clifford Walters of Hawaii pleaded guilty to one count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife before a U.S. magistrate judge, the National Parks Service said Thursday.
The incident happened the evening of May 20 in the Lamar Valley near the confluence of the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek in the northeast corner of the park, according to a National Parks Service news release.
Park officials said the calf had been separated from its mother when the herd crossed the Lamar River. As the calf struggled, a man pushed it up from the river and onto the roadway.
Visitors later saw the calf walk up and follow cars and people.
Park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the calf with its herd, but their efforts weren't successful. The calf was euthanized by park staff because it had been abandoned by the herd and was causing a hazardous situation by approaching cars and people in the roadway, NPS said.
There was nothing in the report of the incident that showed Walters acted maliciously, NSP said.
Walters was charged a $500 fine, a $500 community service payment to Yellowstone Forever Wildlife Protection Fund, a $30 special assessment and a $10 processing fee.
Yellowstone National Park regulations require that people stay at least 25 yards away from all wildlife – including bison – and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.
Yellowstone was the seventh most-visited national park in the United States last year, with more than 3.2 million visitors.
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