The National Park Service (NPS) is searching Friday for two unidentified individuals they say were “harassing” a bison calf at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
The incident happened last Sunday around 1 p.m., during which “two individuals were seen approaching and touching a bison calf at the southern end of Elk Ranch Flats,” the NPS said in a statement.
“It’s important to view wildlife safely, responsibly and ethically. Treat all wildlife with caution and respect as they are wild, unpredictable and can be dangerous,” the statement continued. “The safety of visitors and wildlife depends on everyone playing a critical role in being a steward for wildlife by giving them the space they need to thrive — their lives depend on it.”
The NPS says interference of animals by people “can cause wildlife to reject their offspring.”
“In this case, fortunately, the calf was successfully reunited with its herd, but often these interactions result in euthanizing the animal. Approaching wildlife can drastically affect their well-being and survival,” it added.
Officials released an image showing what appeared to be two men standing on the side of a road next to the bison calf.
“The incident is currently under investigation and the park is asking for any information,” the National Park Service said.
In tips for park visitors, the NPS says the public should always “maintain a distance of at least 100 yards from bears and wolves and 25 yards from other wildlife.”
“Use binoculars, a spotting scope, or a telephoto lens for a good view. Never position yourself between a female and offspring — mothers are very protective,” it also said. “Let wildlife thrive undisturbed. If your actions cause an animal to change their behavior, you are too close.”
In May, Yellowstone National Park authorities asked for the public’s help after a man intentionally disturbed a newborn bison calf in an “unfortunate” incident that resulted in the animal’s death.
The National Park Service described the man as white and in his 40s or 50s and wearing a blue shirt and black pants.
He approached the bison in Lamar Valley near the convergence of the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek.
The calf had been separated from its mother when a herd of bison crossed the Lamar River.
The man pushed the baby bison up from the river and onto the roadway, and visitors later observed the calf walking up to cars and following people.
The calf was later killed by Yellowstone staff because it was abandoned by the herd and caused a hazardous situation by approaching cars and people along the roadway.