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Canadian Man Pleads Guilty To Picking Up Bison Calf, Given Six Months Probation

Shamash Kassam, who picked up a bison calf earlier this year has received six months of unsupervised probation after pleading guilty.

According to the Casper Star Tribune, he was also ordered to pay a $200 fine. In addition, at his hearing in the Yellowstone Justice Center in Mammoth Hot Springs, federal magistrate Mark Carman instructed the man should pay $500 to the Yellowstone Park Foundation Wildlife Protection Fund.

We previously reported that Mr. Kassam had picked up a stray bison calf who was alone and shivering near the roadside. After bringing it to the Lamar Buffalo Ranch, an officer cited Mr. Kassam. When attempts to reintroduce the calf to a herd failed, Park officials put it down. Shortly after Mr. Kassam was identified, a Utah traveler claimed to have seen the calf as well; she posted a video of the animal, saying it had been left behind after struggling to ford a river.

Mr. Kassam has been criticized for “intervening” in a case where he should have kept his distance. In his citation, Mr. Kassam stated that he understood he did wrong, and pledged to never interfere with wildlife again.

In light of the incident, Yellowstone National Park has received criticism for how it handled the calf, with many saying the animal should not have been euthanized, that it should have been sent to a sanctuary or to a rancher willing to care for it. The Park replied in a statement that the bison calf could not have been transferred out of Yellowstone due to federal law prohibiting the movement of animals infected with brucellosis. Even if a rancher or a wildlife organazation had been willing to care for the calf, it would have had to stay in quarantine for several months—as a federally mandated precaution. Currently, no such quarantine facilities are up-and-running.

The Park also said it was not their responsibility to care for wildlife—merely to ensure there’s a healthy separation between them and visitors. From the Tribune:

“Nor is it the mission of the National Park Service to rescue animals: our goal is to maintain the ecological processes of Yellowstone,” the statement said. “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 park has repeatedly advised visitors of late to respect wildlife and to know and follow safety regulations. A woman taking a picture of an elk during a recent Yellowstone visit was charged by the animal when she got too close. The elk knocked her to the ground before backing away.

Visitors should stay at least 100 yards from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards from all other wildlife, the park said.

About Sean Reichard

Sean Reichard is the editor of Yellowstone Insider and author of Yellowstone Insider For Families 2017.

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