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Tourist Fined for Disturbance That Led to Death of Bison Calf at Yellowstone

A Hawaii man must pay more than $1,000 for an interaction in Yellowstone National Park that led to a wild bison calf being euthanized

Clifford Walters pleaded guilty on Wednesday in a Wyoming federal court to intentionally disturbing wildlife. As punishment, the judge ordered him to pay a $500 fine, a $500 payment to the Yellowstone Forever Wildlife Protection Fund, a $30 special assessment fee, and a $10 processing fee. 

Although the violation notice was not publicly available, the Justice Department said in an announcement that Walters approached the newborn bison calf in Lamar Valley on May 20. 

The calf had been separated from its mother and herd while crossing the Lamar River. As the calf struggled, Walters tried to help by pushing it from the river and onto the road. 

Afterward, the calf began walking up to other people and following vehicles, which caused road hazards. Park staff tried to reunite the calf with its mother and herd, but they rejected it. 

Park officials said due to the circumstances, their only option was to euthanize the calf. They explained that the calf wasn’t a good candidate for quarantine and that about a quarter of bison calves don’t survive the birthing season. 

Yellowstone Park rules require visitors to stay at least 25 yards away from all wildlife and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves. Disregarding the rules could result in fines, injury or death for the visitor and harm to the animal 

According to court records, Walters has until July 31, 2023, to pay the fines. 

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