A tourist who visited Yellowstone Park and “rescued” a baby bison when he gave it a ride in his SUV because it was cold said he thought the calf would have died without his help, according to the Casper Star Tribune.
“It would have been roadkill.”
Shamash Kassam defended his actions earlier this week saying he didn’t know any better than to try and help the shivering baby bison and he and thought the animal was legitimately in danger of freezing to death.
A Utah woman visiting the park saw the herd of bison cross a river and filmed the calf being swept downstream where it struggled to make it out of the water; she saw the adult animals ignore the shivering baby bison after it got out, she told KUTV.
“It was just heart-wrenching because it was literally collapsing and there was no buffalo around. It was so pitiful. We were teary eyed.”
EXCLUSIVE: Utah woman says she took video of the bison calf put into SUV by Yellowstone tourists. Watch 2News at 10. pic.twitter.com/maP5JV5CpZ— Daniel Woodruff (@danielmwoodruff) May 18, 2016
Kassam was fined $110 for disturbing wildlife and is required to appear in front of a Wyoming court on June 2 at the Yellowstone Justice Center.
He and his son came upon the wet and shivering baby bison standing in the middle of the road and they waited for 20 minutes to see if any adult animals would come back and rescue the calf. Kassam said he thought the baby bison was trying to use the car’s engine to keep warm.
The French Canadian tourist later admitted he was wrong to separate the newly born animal from its herd after Yellowstone rangers were forced to euthanize the baby bison when the adult animals repeatedly rejected it.
Another park visitor defended Kassam for trying to rescue the baby bison saying the father and son pair were doing the best they could under difficult circumstances, according to Syracuse News.
“They sincerely thought they were doing a service and helping that calf by trying to save it from the cold.”
Yellowstone officials released a statement to the Casper Star Tribune after a number of animal lovers criticized the park for euthanizing the baby bison.
The park doesn’t have the ability to raise a calf that’s too young to care for itself and moving the baby bison to another facility would have required a lengthy quarantine process, which the park doesn’t have the facilities for.
“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.”
The national park has repeatedly warned visitors not to interact with the wildlife because it’s dangerous for both tourists and the animals.
Bison injure more visitors to the park than any other animal, but tourists continue to ignore Yellowstone warnings to avoid the creatures. Last year, five tourists were attacked by the animals including a woman who was tossed into the air while trying to take a selfie with the bison. In another incident, a park bison rammed a car causing $2,700 in damage.
In April of this year, a woman was filmed petting a bison near the park’s famous Old Faithful geyser, Yellowstone spokeswoman Charissa Reid told the Huffington Post.
“A lot of people aren’t clear about how to interact with wild places. Yellowstone…this is a wild place.”
President Barack Obama recently made the bison the official mammal of the United States.
[AP Photo/Mike Stark]