Why Was the Yellowstone Bison Calf Rejected and Euthanized?

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Kelsey is a freelance writer based in Southern Virginia. She enjoys traveling with her family to destinations from national parks to amusement parks and loves sharing tips and stories from along the way.

A Hawaii man pled guilty to disturbing wildlife in Yellowstone Park on May 31, 2023, resulting in a fine in excess of $1000.

For the Yellowstone bison calf, the consequences were more dire. Its herd rejected it due to being touched by a human, and it had to be euthanized.

Bison Calf
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The National Park Service announced that the newborn bison was separated from its mother and herd when crossing the Lamar River. The man tried to help the calf catch up, but his misguided actions caused the herd to abandon the calf.

The incident caused confusion and controversy, with many people questioning why the calf was not taken to a sanctuary or cared for by the park instead of being put down.

However, Yellowstone officials explained that the decision to euthanize the baby bison was made because it had been in contact with humans and could no longer be returned to the wild. The park’s policy is to not interfere with natural processes, and attempting to raise the calf in captivity would have caused more harm than good.

Yellowstone National Park and Its Wildlife

Yellowstone National Park is a protected area in the United States that is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including bison, elk, wolves, and bears. The park is known for its natural beauty, geothermal features, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The park is managed by the National Park Service, which is responsible for protecting the park’s resources and providing recreational opportunities for visitors.

The park’s wildlife is an important part of its ecosystem, and visitors are encouraged to observe wildlife from a safe distance and to respect their natural behaviors.

Handling of Bison Calf

The park visitor’s handling of the bison calf caused the herd to reject it, as the scent of humans on the calf made it unrecognizable to the herd.

The calf was later seen walking up to humans and cars, and efforts by park rangers to reunite the calf with the herd were unsuccessful.

Euthanization of Bison Calf

Bison Calf 1
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Due to the calf’s rejection by the herd and its inability to survive on its own, park rangers made the difficult decision to euthanize the calf.

Federal regulations prevent bison from being removed from Yellowstone unless they are being taken to meat processing or research facilities, so moving the young calf to another location or sanctuary was not an option.

This is not the first time such an incident has occurred at Yellowstone National Park. In 2016, park officials also euthanized a bison calf after a similar incident where a Canadian man and his son put the calf in their SUV, thinking they could rescue it.

Consequences for the Individuals Involved

The individual involved in the incident was charged and later pleaded guilty to a violation of park regulations. He was ordered to pay a fine and serve a term of probation. Additionally, the individual was banned from entering Yellowstone National Park for a period of time.

Park Regulations and Guidelines

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Yellowstone National Park has strict regulations and guidelines in place to protect wildlife and ensure visitor safety.

Visitors are required to maintain a safe distance from all wildlife and are prohibited from touching, feeding, or approaching them. Violations of these regulations can result in fines, imprisonment, and other legal consequences.

Park officials have emphasized the importance of following these regulations and guidelines to prevent incidents like this from occurring in the future. They have also urged visitors to report any instances of wildlife harassment or other violations of park regulations.

Stewardship Responsibility of Visitors

National Parks are protected areas that are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Visitors are responsible for ensuring they do not harm the environment or the wildlife inhabiting these areas.

As stewards of the park, visitors are expected to follow the rules and guidelines that are in place to protect the park’s resources.

Rules and Guidelines To Follow

Yellowstone National Park has specific rules and guidelines that visitors must follow. These rules are in place to ensure visitors’ safety and protect the park’s resources.

Visitors are not allowed to approach or touch wildlife and must stay at least 25 yards away from bison and other large animals. Additionally, visitors cannot feed wildlife or leave food in the open.


The euthanization of a bison calf at Yellowstone National Park has sparked controversy and discussion about human intervention in wildlife conservation efforts.

However, it is important to remember that Yellowstone National Park is a protected area where wildlife can live and roam freely. Visitors are reminded to keep a safe distance from animals and never to approach or touch them.

While it may be tempting to intervene when we see an animal in distress, it is important to remember that our actions can have unintended consequences and may ultimately do more harm than good.

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