Baby bison euthanized at Yellowstone after tourists launch rash ‘rescue’ bid

© U.S. Forest Service
A baby bison has been euthanized after visitors to the forest park famous for its wildlife put the young animal in their car because they feared it was freezing to death.

Last week a father and son from outside of the US were visiting the park and decided to ‘rescue’ the newborn bison from its natural habitat because it appeared to be alone in the cold weather.

The well-meaning pair placed the calf in the back of their truck in a picture since shared heavily on social media, and drove the animal to a park facility, apparently unaware that doing so could cause its mother to abandon it.

The man was later identified as Shamash Kassam, a French Canadian, who reportedly told a park ranger that the calf had been wet and shivering when he discovered it. After waiting 20 minutes, he decided to put it in the back of his car, as no bison were seen nearby, and the calf was seeking warmth from the car’s engine. 

Managers of the national park said they repeatedly tried to reunite the newborn bison with its herd, but the mother rejected the calf after its interaction with humans.

Officials said they had no option but to euthanize the young bison as subsequently it continually approached people and cars passing through the park, creating a “dangerous situation.

"Interference by people can cause mothers to reject their offspring. The calf was euthanized because it was abandoned and causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway,” said a Yellowstone Park spokesman in a statement.

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Kassam was fined $110 and could face further charges according to the Telegraph.

He is set to appear in court on June 2, according to documents filed Tuesday in the US District Court of Wyoming.

The park spokesman said this incident is just the latest in a string of violations by members of the public who continuously break the rule which requires visitors to remain 25 yards (23 meters) away from animals, in a bid to interact with them.

Recent incidents include people closely approaching the animals to take selfies with some of the almost 5,000 bison that roam freely throughout Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres.

The park says this behavior is dangerous to both humans and animals: "In recent weeks visitors in the park have been engaging in inappropriate, dangerous, and illegal behavior with wildlife. These actions endanger people and have now resulted in the death of a newborn bison calf."

Adult male bison can weigh up to 2,000lbs (900kg), with females weighing up to half that.

Park officials pointed out that “bison injure more visitors to Yellowstone than any other animal,” and warned park visitors to respect wildlife and adhere to the safety rules.

READ MORE: Yellowstone National Park in danger of being ‘loved to death’