A couple of confused Yellowstone tourists happened upon a bison calf last week and, thinking it was catching a cold, reportedly loaded it into their SUV and drove it to a ranger station.
On Monday, park officials revealed the calf is now dead.
"The bison calf was later euthanized because it was abandoned and causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway," Yellowstone said in a release.
The call to put down the calf was made after "park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the newborn bison calf with the herd," with no success.
The startling revelation comes just days after a photo emerged showing a bison calf standing in the SUV of father and son travelers.
“They were demanding to speak with a ranger,” witness Karen Richardson told EastIdahoNews.com. “They were seriously worried that the calf was freezing and dying.”
The duo, who said they were from another country, were ticketed when park law enforcement was called.
Yellowstone rules clearly warn visitors to stay at least 25 yards away from the park's wild animals.
Officials then followed the visitors back to the spot where they said they picked the bison up and it was released.
Yellowstone's bison, like all bison, have a thick coat of fur and underfur--as well as tough skin--that allows even their calves to tolerate the intensesly cold winters of the Plains.
Before the tourists drove away, Richardson snapped a photo of the bison, which she posted to Facebook with a tip from a local:
"Dear tourists: the bison calf is not cold and it is not lost. PUT IT BACK!"