A sad update to a story that seemed at first to be a simple mishap.
A father and son were reportedly ticketed at Yellowstone National Park after they placed a bison calf in the back of their SUV in an attempt to protect it from the cold, KTLA sister station WDAF reported.
A mother chaperoning a school group that witnessed the calf in the vehicle posted her account on Facebook, which quickly made the rounds on news sites and social media.
While their heart was in the right place, the father and son were unaware that bison are well-suited to exist in that environment and did not know the effect their actions could have on the rest of the herd.
East Idaho News reports that rangers made the tourists return the calf to where they picked it up, but it was rejected by the herd.
Rangers had no choice but to euthanize the newborn calf after attempts to reunite it with the herd failed. Abandoned, the young bison began to create a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars on the road.
The event highlights a major problem for park rangers and natural wildlife. Visitors approaching wildlife is not only a danger to people, as adult animals are very protective of their young, but also a danger to the animals themselves.
Yellowstone regulations prohibit visitors from approaching wildlife and say you should stay at least 25 yards away from large animals such as bison, elk, and deer, and at least 100 yards from bears and wolves, according to the National Park Service website.
Bison seriously injured five visitors last year at Yellowstone, more than any other animal.