MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. — The man who was photographed handling a bison calf that was separated from its mother in Yellowstone National Park pled guilty to one count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife, May 31.

Clifford Walters of Hawaii appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie A. Hambrick and 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 for the May 20 incident that resulted in park rangers killing the bison calf.

According to the violation notice, Walters approached a struggling newborn bison calf in the 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.

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 caused a hazardous situation by approaching cars and people along the roadway.

“There was nothing in the report that revealed Mr. Walters acted maliciously,” states the press release issued by the United States Attorney’s Office District of Wyoming.

Park regulations require that people 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.

This case was investigated by Yellowstone National Park law enforcement officers and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christyne M. Martens.

Lindsay Vallen is a Community News Reporter covering a little bit of everything; with an interest in politics, wildlife, and amplifying community voices. Originally from the east coast, Lindsay has called Wilson, Wyoming home since 2017. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking, cooking, and completing the Jackson Hole Daily crosswords.