BFC Videographer Treated for Head Wounds after Yesterday's Arrest
For Immediate Release:
May 10, 2007
Exclusive BFC Video & Photos Available Upon Request
Stephany Seay (406) 646-0070
West Yellowstone, Montana - The second straight day of the Montana Department of Livestock's (DOL) intensive bison hazing operations took place on public land today. Approximately 150 wild Yellowstone bison, including new-born calves, were hazed from the north and south sides of the Madison River. Starting at 8am today, the agents used horsemen and a helicopter to force wild buffalo off of public lands in Montana.
The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL), Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, U.S. Forest Service, U.S.D.A. Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, Gallatin County Sheriffs, and Montana Highway Patrol all participated in Wednesday and Thursday's bison hazing operations.
Yesterday, two BFC volunteers were arrested for exercising their civil rights in attempting to document the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) and Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) bison hazing operations.
The first volunteer, Peter Bugosko, was arrested after witnessing the DOL and other agents hazing wild bison across U.S. Highway 191. Highway patrols failed to warn motorists or shut down traffic. Hounded by agents on horseback and a helicopter, another group of bison were close to crossing the road when Bugosko urged Montana Highway Patrolman Shane Cox to shut down the highway and warn traffic of the bison crossing. Cox responded to the volunteer's request by arresting him in a forcible manner.
The second BFC volunteer, Dan Brister, was arrested minutes later while attempting to document the bison crossing the highway. Cox ordered Brister to "move back." Brister complied with the order and moved back behind Cox's vehicle while continuing to videotape the operation. After attempting to forcibly remove the camera from Brister's possession, Cox tackled him, slamming his head into the gravel in the process. After his arrest Brister was transported to Bozeman Deaconness Hospital where one of his head wounds was closed with three surgical staples.
"These arrests were the result of an overzealous law enforcement officer interfering with our rights to videotape a government operation," said Brister. "I complied with his orders, did not resist, and still he arrested me and used excessive force, tackling me to the ground."
Both volunteers had their video cameras, which contained video documentation of the arrests, confiscated. Bugosko was charged with Obstructing a Peace Officer and Criminal Mischief. Brister was charged with Obstructing a Peace Officer and Resisting Arrest. Brister was released after his visit to the hospital and Bugosko is expected to be released on bond this afternoon.
Last week, MHP officer Cox was filmed being hostile and aggressive to BFC volunteers documenting a bison hazing operation along Highway 287.
Government officials, including law enforcement, routinely attempt to prevent BFC from effectively filming bison hazing operations.
Freelance photographer Barbara Michelman was on the scene of the arrests.
Hazing bison off of public lands runs contrary to a November 2006 agreement signed by all Interagency Bison Management Plan officials, which is supposed to allow native wild bison access to public lands though May 15. This is the third time in three weeks that the IBMP agencies have ignored their agreement.
The purported reason for the government's aggressive management of wild bison is the perceived threat of the cattle-born disease, brucellosis. There has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting the European livestock disease brucellosis to livestock, even prior to implementation of Interagency Bison Management Plan.
American Bison once spanned the continent, numbering between 30 and 50 million. The Yellowstone bison are genetically unique and are America's only continuously wild herd, numbering fewer than 3,600 animals, .01 percent of the bison's former population.
1,912 bison have been killed since 2000 under the Interagency Bison Management Plan. Last winter Federal and State agencies killed or authorized the killing of more than 1,010 bison. So far this winter two bison were captured and sent to slaughter by Montana Department of Livestock agents and hunters have killed 58.
Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) is the only group working in the field, every day, to stop the slaughter of the wild Yellowstone buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo and their native habitat and advocate for their lasting protection.