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Tourists put baby bison in car; calf euthanized

Canadian told not to pick up bison after Yellowstone drama


Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Friday, June 3, 2016, 4:34 PM - A Canadian man has been told to refrain from picking up more bison as part of his probation. The warning comes after a baby bison had to be euthanized in early may when a father and son put the animal in their car, fearing it was cold.

Shanash Kassam of Brossard, Que., was fined $235 and ordered to donate $500 to the park's wildlife protection fund.

He appeared at a Wyoming district court via telephone, where he pleaded guilty. Kassam was issued a six-month probation.

On May 9, Kassam told a Yellowstone office he had seen a “wet and shivering” baby bison in the middle of the road near a river. 

“After 20 minutes, they still could not see any bison anywhere in the vicinity. The bison calf would not leave their vehicle, appearing to be seeking warmth from the engine,” the officer said in his criminal citation, via the Canadian Press.

“Kassam stated he decided to pick up the bison calf, or it would have been road kill, and drive to the Buffalo Ranch and call law enforcement.”

Kassam apologized and said he had not intended to cause any harm.

BISON LATER EUTHANIZED

"The bison calf was later euthanized because it was abandoned and causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway," park officials said in a press release issued about a week after the incident.

Officials tried numerous times to re-integrate the kidnapped bison back into the pack, but it was rejected by the herd.


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WHY WASN'T THE BISON BROUGHT TO A REHABILITATION CENTRE?

News of the baby bison spread quickly on social media, prompting several angry comments from the public, demanding to know why the animal hadn't been sent to a rehabilitation centre.

"In order to ship the calf out of the park, it would have had to go through months of quarantine to be monitored for brucellosis. No approved quarantine facilities exist at this time, and we don't have the capacity to care for a calf that's too young to forage on its own," Yellowstone National Park said in a message on its Facebook page.

"Nor is it the mission of the National Park Service to rescue animals: our goal is to maintain the ecological processes of Yellowstone. Even though humans were involved in this case, it is not uncommon for bison, especially young mothers, to lose or abandon their calves. Those animals typically die of starvation or predation."

TOURISTS FEAR FOR SAFETY OF BISON

“They were demanding to speak with a ranger,” witness Karen Richardson told East Idaho News of the kid-napping incident. “They were seriously worried that the calf was freezing and dying.”

Reports suggest the weather was relatively mild the day the incident took place, with a daytime high of 10 and a low of 3C.

Another witness told the news outlet the pair didn't seem to care when they were told they weren't allowed to pick the bison up.

"They sincerely thought they were doing a service and helping that calf by trying to save it from the cold,” Rob Heusevelet added.

Park rangers brought the bison back to where it was found and tried to re-release it.

The father and son were issued a ticket for their interference.

"Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival," it says on the National Park Service website.

"Park regulations require that you stay at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all wildlife (including bison, elk and deer) and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves. Disregarding these regulations can result in fines, injury, and even death. The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules."

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