Nonviolent Action Shuts Buffalo Trap
As we walked along the Forest Service road accessing
the Horse Butte buffalo trap yesterday morning we knew,
for the first time in months, that the buffalo were
safe. As we approached the trap where the Department
of Livestock (DOL) has captured hundreds of buffalo
since 1999, we were overjoyed. For once the trap didn't
seem so ominous.
Akiva Silver, a 24 year-old volunteer who witnessed
the capture of hundreds of buffalo in Yellowstone last
month, sat perched upon a platform suspended from the
top of a 45 foot-long pole in the center of the trap.
Hanging from the platform a banner announced, "Bison
Trap Closed To Protect Wildlife."
The pole, or monopod, stands straight up from the center
of the holding pen, supported by a skirt of ropes tied
to the walls and gates, making it inoperable as long
as Akiva remains in his perch.
Shortly after we got there, the local DOL agent arrived
on the scene to prepare the trap for a week of capture
and slaughter. His face dropped when he saw Akiva and
realized that his plans had been changed. He made a
few calls on his radio and was soon joined by the familiar
crew of government agents who work together to kill
buffalo. Next on the scene was Tyler Robinson of the
U.S. Forest Service. He was followed by police officers
from the Gallatin County Sheriff's Department, West
Yellowstone Police, and the National Park Service. They
spent the morning staring up at Akiva's structure, asking
him to come down, and videotaping the BFC volunteers
who had gathered to support him.
Horse Butte is the favorite spring habitat of the Yellowstone
buffalo. In the past few days mixed herds of more than
75 have migrated to the Butte's greening south-facing
slopes. As we sat on the ground by the trap talking
to Akiva we could see a large herd on the hillside behind
him. Over the course of the morning the buffalo, energized
by the spring sunshine, began to trot down the Butte.
Before long they were on the flats behind the trap,
more than fifty strong, a few hundred yards away.
We watched as they ran. Playfully jumping, darting and
veering, they ran to within a few dozen yards from the
agents standing at the far end of the trap. Dejection
showed in the agents' faces, suddenly robbed of their
power to capture. After running past, some buffalo wallowed
in the road, kicking up great clouds of dust. Others
gently sparred with their horns. Akiva cheered and we
joined him, jubilant in the fact that there was no danger
in the trap, that the buffalo would remain free, that
the day would be theirs to wander as they wished.
Akiva remains upon his perch, where he has been for
more than 30 hours. Unable to capture, the DOL regrouped
for a hazing operation. They spent the morning disturbing
the sanctity of the Buffalo on the Butte, riding their
ATV's and firing explosive shells into the air to frighten
buffalo--chasing them more than five miles past the
trap to the park. While the DOL claims to have had no
intention of capturing buffalo, we know differently.
For we were there in February when they slammed the
steel doors shut behind a herd of 18; we were there
in 2002 when they captured and slaughtered more than
a hundred buffalo; we have seen buffalo fall dead, injured
and abused at the hands of the DOL in the very trap
where, as I write, one young man sits perched, protecting
a national treasure.
If you have ever felt ineffective or thought that the
actions of one person can't make a difference, think
again. Akiva Silver is living proof that each of us
embodies the power to make a better world.
* Write a Letter to the Editor
Many papers have been printing buffalo-related letters
to the editor, and we can't thank you enough for your
energy and effort on this. Letters to the editor are
an easy and effective way to awaken thousands of people
to the buffalo crisis going on in and around Yellowstone.
Future updates will feature recently-published letters
and a link to BFC's letter writing page, with letter
writing tips and contact info for crucial papers: http://www.wildrockies.org/buffalo/politico04/030304writelte.html.
If you need information or tips on writing a letter
you can always reach us at
*Letter of the Week:
Why is Yellowstone no longer a safe place for bison?
Why are certain people catching bison and slaughtering
them? I want to know why Yellowstone National Park is
not a safe place for them any more. I don't think it
is fair to have bison being slaughtered like that. I
don't think it's OK for bison to almost be extinct.
I hurt inside. I think that bison should have a safe
place to live. I think that we should do something about
it. Thank you.
Kelly Hockett, age 8
* Urge television coverage of Yellowstone Slaughter
In addition to flooding the print-media with buffalo
stories, we wanted to try something fairly new. A lot
of TV stations have recently requested and received
our footage from the field - we need your help to encourage
them that this is newsworthy footage, so they'll show
it and people can see what's happening to the buffalo.
Gathering this footage is what BFC volunteers spend
countless hours doing. As the eyes and ears for the
American public, we need your help to get the footage
out there! Please put pressure on the
TV news media, so the American public will know what's
happening to the last wild buffalo. Listed below are
just three TV news stations who have received footage
from us. Please call and/or email them, and tell them
you've got a story idea - ask them why they aren't covering
the mass buffalo slaughter, and urge them to air
the footage they have received from us. Encourage
your friends and family to make these calls too. For
the latest, TV media can also check our website
for more footage as well. Your phone calls to them will
demonstrate that this is important to the public, that
it is indeed newsworthy, and that it must be shown!
TV NEWS STATIONS TO CONTACT:
1. NBC - Dateline NBC: Email - email@example.com
- Phone - 212-664-7501
2. 48 Hours: Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone - 212-975-4848
3. ABC - 20/20: Email - email@example.com
- Phone - 212-456-7777
* Mark Your Calendar! Silent Protest Planned
As part of BFC's Week of Action, we are planning a special event
for Saturday, May 8th at 2:00 pm, in Helena, the
state capitol of Montana. The DOL and the Park Service
have already killed 277 buffalo this year alone, and
we suffer their loss painfully. Though it is spring,
and we should be celebrating new life, we know
the killing-season isn't over yet. In response, we will
stand in silent mourning and protest, juxtaposed between
the eastern lawn of the State Capitol, the headquarters
of the MT DOL, and the offices of Fish, Wildlife and
Parks. We will don funeral attire, and set up headstones
to represent the deaths of each of our buffalo friends.
Our goal is to have *at least* one person for every
buffalo killed, but more people will make a much stronger
statement. We need your help with outreach, and hope
you are also able to attend. Please go to (http://www.wildrockies.org/buffalo)
for a flyer that you can download and print to
post around town, on campus, or in the office. Email
any list serve you're on and let them know about this
too. Help us make an impact by informing the masses
and encouraging everyone to attend. Helena is about
a 3-hour drive from West Yellowstone, so if you can,
plan to come to Camp a few days early to go out on patrols
with us, and then caravan or ride with us to the event.
Otherwise, we look forward to seeing you there! For
more information or directions contact
"I am doing my best by non-violent means to stop
this assault on the buffalo.
I believe that as long as I can remain inside the Hose
butte trap, no buffalo will be captured here.
This is why I am here."
--Akiva Silver, on his closing of the buffalo trap on