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Visitors at Grand Teton National Park accused of harassing baby bison

Two people at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming harassed a bison calf, the National Park Service said Thursday. 

They were seen approaching and touching the baby bison at the southern end of Elk Ranch Flats on Sunday around 1 p.m., officials said. Interaction with people can cause wildlife to reject their children. 

"In this case, fortunately, the calf was successfully reunited with its herd, but often these interactions result in euthanizing the animal," authorities said. "Approaching wildlife can drastically affect their well-being and survival."

The National Park Service says two people harassed a bison calf at Grand Teton National Park.  National Park Service

In a recent incident at Yellowstone National Park, a bison calf needed to be euthanized after a man disturbed it. The bison had been separated from its mother on May 20 when a herd crossed a river. A park visitor spotted the struggling calf and pushed it onto the roadway. Park rangers failed to reunite the bison with the herd. Officials euthanized the calf because it had been abandoned and was causing a hazardous situation.

In another incident, tourists picked up a baby elk and put it in their car at Yellowstone over Memorial Day weekend. They drove the newborn elk to West Yellowstone, Montana, Police Department, park officials said. The calf "later ran off into the forest" and its condition was unknown.

The National Park Service has urged visitors to stay away from animals. 

"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," officials said in a Thursday news release. "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."

Park officials have asked visitors to follow guidelines around animals to prevent future problems. They suggest all visitors stay at least 25 yards away from most wildlife, including bison, elk and deer. Visitors are required to remain at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

It's illegal to feed, touch, tease, frighten or intentionally disturb wildlife at National Parks. In the case of the bison that was euthanized, the park visitor pleaded guilty to one count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife. The visitor was ordered to pay a $500 fine, along with a $500 community service payment to Yellowstone Forever Wildlife Protection Fund, a $30 special assessment and a $10 processing fee, the park service said.

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