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Man pleads guilty after an encounter with a bison at Yellowstone National Park led to the animal being euthanized, prosecutors say

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A man has pleaded guilty to intentionally disturbing wildlife following an encounter with a newborn bison calf at Yellowstone National Park that resulted in the young animal being euthanized.

Clifford Walters pleaded guilty to one count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife, the US attorney’s office for Wyoming said in a news release.

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, the release said.

The legal action comes after Walters was seen on May 20 disturbing a bison calf in the Wyoming portion of the park, the National Park Service said.

“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,” prosecutors said. “There was nothing in the report that revealed Mr. Walters acted maliciously.”

After that encounter, the calf was seen following cars and people in the park, officials said.

“Interference by people can cause wildlife to reject their offspring,” the park service said.

After park rangers failed in their attempt to reunite the calf with its herd, they decided to euthanize the calf, as “it was abandoned by its herd and was causing a hazardous situation to approaching cars and people along the roadway,” the park service said.

Park regulations state that people need to stay at least 25 yards away from bison, elk and most other wildlife, and 100 yards away from bears and wolves. Approaching wild animals can affect their well-being and their survival, the park service says.

“The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules,” prosecutors said.

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