Let this be a reminder to leave wildlife in National Parks alone, and in other natural areas as well. Not only can it harm the wildlife, but, as in the situation below, it can land you in legal trouble.
Clifford Walters of Hawaii pleaded guilty to one count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife on May 31 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie A. Hambrick. 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.
According to the violation notice, on May 20, 2023, Walters approached a struggling 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. Walters later stated, “This was an act of compassion. I really did not think that it would be a crime to save the baby bison. The event happened so quickly, I acted from my heart.”
Visitors later observed the calf walk up to and follow cars and people. Park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the calf with the herd, but their efforts were unsuccessful. The calf was later euthanized by park staff because it was abandoned by the herd and becoming a hazard on the roadway. There was nothing in the report that revealed Mr. Walters acted maliciously.
In a news release, Yellowstone officials reminded the public that 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.