In one of the stranger viral tales, a father and son visiting Yellowstone National Park found a baby bison they thought appeared chilly. The pair decided to ‘save’ the animal by transporting it in their car to a ranger station. In a tragic twist, as a result of the pair’s actions, the National Park Service was unable to rejoin the baby bison with its herd.

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Karen Olsen Richardson, who snapped the viral photo, told East Idaho News that the father and son seemed to be “seriously worried” that the baby bison might die. Another local, Rob Heusevelt, said, “They sincerely thought they were doing a service and helping that calf by trying to save it from the cold.” The National Park service issued the tourists a ticket and took the animal.

Related: After 100 years, Canada returns bison herd to Montana tribes

Yet multiple efforts to reunite the calf with its family failed. According to the National Parks Service, bison mothers will sometimes reject their babies if a human has intervened. Abandoned, the baby tried to approach other humans and cars, and it did not appear it would be able to adapt to life in the wild on its own, without its family to care for it. The National Parks Service had to euthanize the baby bison.

The tragedy underscores the necessity of respecting wildlife. The National Parks Service released a statement urging visitors to maintain a distance of a minimum of 25 yards from animals like bison and deer, and 100 yards from wolves and bears. They cited other cases of pictures and videos taken too close to bison, and noted “bison injure more visitors to Yellowstone than any other animal.” They reminded tourists that interfering with wildlife “can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival.”


Images via NBC DFW via Karen Olsen Richardson on Facebook and Yellowstone National Park on Facebook