Utah woman says she took video of Yellowstone bison calf before tourists put it in SUV

Natalie Kinzel of West Jordan told 2News she saw what she believes to be the baby bison that was euthanized in Yellowstone earlier this week. (Photo: Natalie Kinzel)

(KUTV) A Utah woman says she came across the young bison calf who ended up in a tourist's car at Yellowstone National Park and eventually had to be euthanized.

Natalie Kinzel of West Jordan told 2News she doesn't agree with what those tourists did, but she can understand why they did it.

"I'm sure out of the goodness of their hearts, they were trying to help," said Kinzel.

RELATED: More tourists, more animals leading to more problems in Yellowstone

Kinzel was at Yellowstone last Monday with some family members when she saw a herd of bison crossing a river. She decided to take a video and quickly focused her attention on a calf struggling to swim.

She said she watched as the little buffalo got swept downstream -- ignored by the other animals. The calf eventually made it out but was soon left all alone.

"It was just heart-wrenching because it was literally collapsing and there was no buffalo around," Kinzel said.

She kept recording as the calf alternated between leaning against her car and standing there, shivering.

"It was so pitiful," Kinzel said. "We were teary eyed when we left."

Later, she learned what likely happened. Two tourists picked up a baby bison they said was lost and shivering, put it in their SUV, and took it to a ranger station.

They were cited for disturbing the calf, which was eventually euthanized after efforts to reunite it with its herd failed.

"I don't blame the people for wanting to do something," said Kinzel.

It's impossible to say with certainty that the bison in her video is the same one that ended up at the ranger station, but Kinzel is convinced it is. All the details match up -- same place, same time of day, and same description of a baby animal lost and cold.

"It was very hard to watch," Kinzel said. She admits she wanted to do something to help the calf, too, but she didn't.

She also said those who have criticized the tourists should have some compassion.

"I'm sure that they thought they were trying to help," Kinzel said.

Rangers at Yellowstone are using this incident to remind visitors that wildlife is wild. They say guests should stay at least 25 yards away from bison and not approach or touch them.

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