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Hawaii man pleads guilty to intentionally disturbing wildlife in Yellowstone National Park

Clifford Walters of Hawaii pleaded guilty to one count of intentionally feeding, touching, taunting, frightening or disturbing wildlife May 31 before US Judge Stephanie A. Hambrick, according to Yellowstone National Park.

Walters received a $500 fine, a $500 community service payment to the Yellowstone Forever Wildlife Protection Fund, a $30 special assessment and a $10 processing fee, according to a news release from the park.

Citing the violation notice, the park said on May 20, Walters approached a struggling newborn bison calf in Lamar Valley, near the confluence of the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek. The calf had been separated from her mother when the herd crossed the Lamar River.

As the calf struggled, the man pushed the calf up the river and onto the road, the park said. Visitors later observed the calf approaching and following cars and people. Park rangers repeatedly tried to reunite the calf with the herd, but their efforts were unsuccessful. Park staff later euthanized the calf because it was abandoned by the herd and caused a dangerous situation by approaching cars and people along the road, according to the news release.

There was nothing in the report to reveal that Walters acted maliciously.

Yellowstone National Park wants to remind the public that getting close to wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival. Park regulations require people to stay at least 25 yards away from all wildlife (including bison, elk, and deer) and at least 100 yards from bears and wolves.

Ignoring these regulations can result in fines, injury, and even death.

Follow these links to learn more about conserving wildlife in the park, including when Yellowstone staff intervened in a natural process and why and why calf bison were culled.

This case was investigated by Yellowstone National Park law enforcement officers and prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Christyne M. Martens, the park said.

For questions regarding Yellowstone National Park, please contact the Office of Public Affairs at 307-344-2015 or [email protected].

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