BREAKING: Federal Court Identifies Canadian Man Who Picked Up Bison Calf
A resident of Quebec, Canada, visiting Yellowstone National Park last week picked up a bison calf that was later euthanized, according to U.S. District Court records filed Tuesday.
Shamash Kassam, whose age was not identified, is scheduled to make his initial appearance at the Mammoth Hot Springs Justice Center on June 2.
Court documents did not indicate if any other charges are pending, according to the officer's report. Much of Kassam's personal information was redacted from the violation notice.
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.
The officer saw the calf in the back of the SUV and told Kassam that bison and their calves are wild animals. People in the park are not allowed to intervene with wildlife including touching, disturbing or feeding them, he wrote.
By removing the calf, Kassam was preventing the mother from finding it and possibly altering its ability to survive in the wild, the officer wrote.
"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.
The officer found a bison herd near where Kassam had picked up the calf, and the calf was released into the herd.
"I observed a mother bison with another calf, lick the bison calf and then walk towards the Larmar River with the calf following closely," the officer wrote. He then notified National Park Service Bison management staff.
The officer then issued a notice for violating wildlife protection regulations. The fine was $110 plus a $25 processing fee.
The calf Kassam picked up was never reunited with the herd and was euthanized.