Canadian man cited for putting bison calf in SUV at Yellowstone - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

Canadian man cited for putting bison calf in SUV at Yellowstone National Park

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This bison calf was euthanized after being picked up by tourists (Photo Courtesy: Karen Richardson) This bison calf was euthanized after being picked up by tourists (Photo Courtesy: Karen Richardson)

Shamash Kassam of Canada, who put a bison calf in the back of his SUV because he was worried it was cold, has paid $135 for violating Yellowstone National Park rules.

When park officials tried to reunite the calf with its mother, the mother rejected it, and park officials then euthanized the calf.

Kassam was cited for picking up the bison calf from the road, and paid $135 for his violation.

He stated he understood what he did was wrong and would never do it again.

(MAY 16, 2016) Frustration erupted online across the nation over the weekend and into Monday as the news of the fate of a bison calf in Yellowstone National Park went viral.

How could two tourists possibly think it was okay to pick up a bison calf weighing less than 100 pounds, place it in the back of a Toyota Sequoia, and drive to the ranger station in Yellowstone National Park?

Signs, brochures, and common sense usually leads to visitors remembering the golden rule in national parks -- "If you care, leave them there."

A father and son - visitors from another country - thought they were sparing a baby bison from the cold, placed it in the SUV, and transported it to the ranger station to inform officials of their good deed.

It's not known how hard the ranger's jaw hit the floor of the station, but the tourists didn't escape without someone taking a photo of the head-scratching situation.

Karen Richardson's photo of the incident took off online, immediately going viral with most comments admonishing the tourists.

On Monday, news came down the bison calf could not be successfully reintroduced to the wild and was subsequently euthanized.

"Interference by people can cause mothers to reject their offspring," YNP officials stated in a press release. "In this case, park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the newborn bison calf with the herd. These efforts failed. The bison calf was later euthanized because it was abandoned and causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway."

Many people still questioned why the bison couldn't be moved to a conservation center or elsewhere.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Park's communication and education director Bob Gibson says there is one big reason that may pose a risk for other wildlife.

"It has first to do with disease," Gibson said. "There are diseases in the park that are not elsewhere that we don't want to move that animal and do that. Even when buffalo are transferred from the park off to the tribes, those animals are vetted for disease a lot first. Just to pick up an animal and go over and plunk it down into another herd is asking for trouble. Second, there is no reason to believe that if that little calf was rejected by its original herd that it would not be rejected by the herd you plugged it into another one of the reservations or somewhere else or a conservation center."

Gibson said it's rare to be able to relocate an animal with hooves. Bears and some birds are exceptions, but even then can be difficult to move.

Yellowstone National Park also shared the following information on its Facebook page:

"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. 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."

None of which would need to be considered if tourists learned the golden rule for wildlife.

We have contacted Yellowstone National Park officials to get a better understanding of the ticket handed out to the tourists, and what fine and/or punishment they might receive; we will update you if we get more details.

Since it is a federal crime, the tourists will likely face the park's federal magistrate for further punishment.

This incident is the most recent in a string of human-bison encounters at the park.

In a recent viral video, a visitor approached within an arm's length of an adult bison in the Old Faithful area. Another video featured visitors posing for pictures with bison at extremely unsafe and illegal distances. 

Last year, five visitors were seriously injured when they approached bison too closely. Bison injure more visitors to Yellowstone than any other animal.

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