Um. Er. Okay then. Is this better than taking a selfie with an adult bison? A father and son touring Yellowstone National Park last week came upon a bison calf that they thought was as risk of dying from the cold. Rather than leave it to Mother Nature, they picked up the calf, buckled it into their rental vehicle, and took it to a ranger station.

“They were demanding to speak with a ranger,” said Karen Richardson of Victor, Idaho, who was chaperoning a fifth grade field trip to the park. “They were seriously worried that the calf was freezing and dying.”

Rob Heusevelet, another chaperone, warned them they were doing the wrong thing, but “they didn’t care,” Heusevelet said. “They sincerely thought they were doing a service and helping that calf by trying to save it from the cold.”

Rangers ticketed the man and returned the calf to the spot from which it was taken.

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UPDATE, 3:15 PST, MAY 16, 2016

What seemed like a sweet but misplaced gesture has turned tragic. The nursing calf was rejected by its mother and herd and was put down by the Park Service, which addressed the issue in the following statement:

In recent weeks, visitors in the park have been engaging in inappropriate, dangerous, and illegal behavior with wildlife. These actions endanger people and have now resulted in the death of a newborn bison calf.

Last week in Yellowstone National Park, visitors were cited for placing a newborn bison calf in their vehicle and transporting it to a park facility because of their misplaced concern for the animal’s welfare. In terms of human safety, this was a dangerous activity because adult animals are very protective of their young and will act aggressively to defend them. In addition, interference by people can cause mothers to reject their offspring. In this case, park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the newborn bison calf with the herd. These efforts failed. The bison calf was later euthanized because it was abandoned and causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway.

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In a recent viral video, a visitor approached within an arm’s length of an adult bison in the Old Faithful area. Another video featured visitors posing for pictures with bison at extremely unsafe and illegal distances. Last year, five visitors were seriously injured when they approached bison too closely. Bison injure more visitors to Yellowstone than any other animal.

Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival. Park regulations require that you 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. The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules.

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