A father and son have come under criticism and received a fine after putting a baby bison in their car while on a field trip to Lamar Buffalo Ranch in Yellowstone park. After seeing the calf alone, they became worried it was cold and lost. But instead of bringing it to the attention of the park's rangers, they managed to bundle it into the back of their SUV.
Karen Richardson found the man with the "kidnapped" calf and uploaded a photograph to Facebook, with the caption “Dear tourists: the bison calf is not cold and it is not lost. Put it back!”
She told EastIdahoNews.com: "They were demanding to speak with a ranger. They were seriously worried that the calf was freezing and dying."
Although perhaps an innocent mistake, law enforcement rangers gave the man a ticket for his misguided efforts. According to the National Park Service website, they rightly advise all visitors to avoid the wildlife and remain at least 25 yards (22 meters) away from large animals such as bison. They go on to say that these unpredictable and powerful animals have been responsible for many injuries and even deaths in recent years.
Luckily for the little bison, rangers led it back to where it was discovered and released it.
UPDATE: Sadly the baby bison has died, after repeated attempts by the park to reunite it with its mother. The mother, and herd, rejected the baby, probably due to it being handled by humans, according to the park. It became a hazard as it continued to approach people and vehicles and had to be euthanized.
In light of this, the National Park Service issued a statement: "Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival. Park regulations require that you stay at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all wildlife (including bison, elk, and deer) and at least 100 yards (91 m) 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."