Grand Teton Officials Search For Visitors Who Harassed Baby Bison

Authorities in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park announced Thursday they're looking for two men who illegally approached and harassed a bison calf on Sunday.

Leo Wolfson

June 08, 20234 min read

The National Park Service is investigating this incident of two men with cellphones approaching and touching a baby bison in Grand Teton National Park on Sunday.
The National Park Service is investigating this incident of two men with cellphones approaching and touching a baby bison in Grand Teton National Park on Sunday. (National Park Service)

Grand Teton National Park authorities announced Thursday they’re looking for two men who were seen approaching and touching a bison calf on Sunday.

A photo provided by the park shows the calf running away from the smirking men, both holding up their cellphones as if taking photos or video.

Interference with humans can sometimes lead wildlife to rejecting their offspring, which can mean wildlife officials have to kill the young animals.

In this case, the park reports that the baby bison was successfully reunited with its herd without further incident. It came into contact with the men at about 1 p.m. Sunday at the southern end of Elk Ranch Flats. 

‘Uncommon And Severe’

Though peak tourist season has only just begun, it’s already been an eventful year in Yellowstone National Park for people having illegal contact with wildlife.

Earlier this week, a video circulated on Instagram showing a man jumping out of his car parked next to a reported black bear, just a few yards from the road in the area of Yellowstone National Park.

As his buddy shoots video from the passenger seat, he jumps out of the car and runs directly at the bear, growling, grunting and making barking noises.

The baffled bear turns tail and runs off into some nearby trees. Then the guy turns back toward the camera, rips off his shirt, flexes and does what appears to be a poor impression of a silverback gorilla.

Over Memorial Day Weekend, some people nabbed an elk calf and stuffed it into their car before taking it to the police department in West Yellowstone, Montana.

The calf “later ran off into the forest and it’s condition is unknown,” and the incident is still under investigation, according to the Park Service.

On May 28, a male black bear was struck and killed by a car in Yellowstone. Later that same evening, another male black bear was struck and killed on the same highway.

And May 31, Clifford Wallace of Hawaii pleaded guilty to intentionally disturbing wildlife in the park and was charged $1,000 in fines and community service fees. He tried to “rescue” a bison calf struggling in the Yellowstone River. The calf had to be shot by park rangers.

Linda Veress, a spokesperson for Yellowstone, said visitors get inappropriately close to wildlife every day the park is open. She described the incidents that have been documented this year as “uncommon and severe.”

“They also unfortunately happened in rapid succession,” she added.

Worst Ever?

Jen Mignard, who runs the social media site “Yellowstone Park: Invasion of the Idiots,” told Cowboy State Daily earlier this week that it’s too early to tell whether this year will be worse than last year in terms of moronic moves in the park.

It could be a tough comparison, because flooding in the park hampered last year’s tourist season.

Most of the worst offenders are young, she added.

“It seems that the most of the chaos is centered around younger people,” Mignard said. “Maybe it’s a lack of understanding of consequences and safety, a prolonged sense of invincibility and the negative influence of social media. I suspect it’s the latter two.

If You See It, Report It

It is illegal to feed any wildlife in national parks, whether bears, squirrels or bison calves. 

Approaching and directly interacting with wildlife can significantly reduce their chance of survival, park officials said. Wildlife can quickly become dependent on people for food, resulting in poor nutrition and aggressive behavior.

If fed, an animal may become unhealthy, bite a human, expose a human to rabies and need to be killed.

Grand Teton park officials are asking people who were in the Elk Ranch Flats area at that time of the incident and have information that could help in the park’s investigation, or who know the men involved, to call the park Tip Line at 307-739-3367.

People can also call the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307-739-3301 if they see any wildlife harassment in the park.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter