A Hawaii man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of intentionally disturbing wildlife in connection with an incident on May 20, 2023, where the man reportedly interfered with a struggling newborn bison calf in Yellowstone National Park, leading to the animal’s death.
Clifford Walters of Hawaii 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, according to a YNP press release.
The incident happened in the park’s northeast corner when Walters approached a newborn bison calf in Lamar Valley near the confluence of the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek. The calf had become separated from its mother when the herd crossed the Lamar River.
Walters pushed the calf up from the river as it struggled and onto the roadway. Visitors reportedly later saw the calf walk up to cars and people and following them.
Park rangers made repeated efforts to reunite the calf with its herd but were unsuccessful. The abandoned animal was later killed by park staff as it was creating a hazardous situation by approaching people and cars.
The release said there was “nothing in the report that revealed Mr. Walters acted maliciously.”
The case was investigated by Yellowstone National Park law enforcement officers and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christyne M. Martens.