One of the men responsible for picking up a bison calf last week in Yellowstone National Park has been identified.
According to K2 Radio, court documents have identified one of the men responsible as Canadian resident Shamash Kassam. He is currently scheduled to make an appearance at the Mammoth Hot Springs Justice Center June 2.
As previously reported, the calf was later euthanized by Yellowstone officials, something that has generated much flak against Park management across various social media channels.
The report also highlights an element of the case previously not discussed in our prior coverage: that the bison calf was alone and separated, which may indicate it was previously abandoned. From K2 Radio:
Kassam regretted his actions and promised to not do anything like that again, according to an officer’s report. But the incident has drawn national attention and renewed a debate over the role of human-wildlife interactions in national parks.
The violation notice, signed Sunday, provides more details about what happened after the park law enforcement officer received at call about 8:10 p.m., Monday, May 9, from Yellowstone Dispatch.
Dispatch reported a visitor at the Buffalo Ranch had picked up a bison calf from the road. The officer drove there and met two males in an SUV and identified Kassam by his Quebec driver’s license.
“Kassam stated that they had been on the road near the river a couple of miles east of the Buffalo Ranch and a baby bison was in the middle of the road, wet and shivering, and would not leave their vehicle for 20 minutes, while they waited to see if any bison would come back for the bison calf.
“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, and 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 for assistance,” according to the officer’s statement.
Kassam was fined $110 plus a $25 processing fee for picking up the bison calf. There is no word whether he is facing further charges. “Kassam stated that he understood what he did was wrong and he would never pick up or disturb any wildlife again, and instead would wait at the scene and call for law enforcement,” the officer wrote.
According to the officer, the bison calf was brought back to the approximate location where Kassam waited with it before picking it up. The calf was released into the herd, where the officer watched it follow the herd. National Park Service Bison management staff was called in. Unfortunately, the calf couldn’t reintegrate with the herd.
A Short Note
It is worth saying here that, while Mr. Kassam’s actions should not be repeated, they were not malicious in intent. This was neither kidnapping nor theft. Mr. Kassam was acting out of sincere, albeit misguided, concern; he should not be labeled as a “touron” (or worse) for his actions.
Indeed, the same empathy behind the rage exhibited at this bison calf’s death is the same that inspired Mr. Kassam to load the calf into his SUV in the first place.
Further, with or without Mr. Kassam’s intervention, the bison calf would not have likely survived outside a herd, especially away from its mother. Mr. Kassam’s actions merely complicated an already complex situation.