From left to right, three heroes from Wild Buffalo Defense, Thom, Cody, and Hannah. Wild Buffalo Defense photo.
The three brave souls with the collective Wild Buffalo Defense who took direct action in an attempt to halt Yellowstone National Park from facilitating buffalo slaughter operations were released from jail on Monday, after being incarcerated for six full days on misdemeanor charges. All three are doing well. Along with BFC and Wild Buffalo Defense, there was a strong showing of solidarity from people - including locals and park visitors - who attended Monday’s hearing at Yellowstone’s “Justice” Center.
Support for their deeds is pouring in from everywhere — except, of course, from Yellowstone and the U.S. federal court. Two of the protectors, Cody and Thom, were charged with violating Yellowstone’s extensive closure surrounding the Stephens Creek buffalo trap, and also with interfering with an agency function. That function was the slaughter of the country’s last wild buffalo. The third protector, Hannah, was charged with violating the same closure. She had been attempting to observe and document the actions of law enforcement, exercising her constitutional rights.
The federal judge presiding over the case, Mark Carman, just could not understand why such passionate people would take such an action when, as he put it, Yellowstone is doing such a great job “protecting” the wild buffalo who are in their care. In a condescending tone, he gave the three protectors a verbal spanking about needing to be "part of the system," and recognizing "how the system works." Read BFC’s full press release for more information. You can see photos and a press release from Wild Buffalo Defense on their Facebook page.
By next week, the buffalo protectors will be sharing statements with you about the reasons they took these important actions. Please also consider contributing to the protectors’ legal defense fund.
Pregnant and terrified, these buffalo have been run through the gauntlet of Yellowstone’s buffalo trap and are being held before trucks come to haul them to slaughter. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.
Slaughter - Nearly 715 Killed
Yellowstone National Park has publicly stated that they have captured 750 of the country’s last wild, migratory buffalo — a sacred, keystone species, and our national mammal. Shown in this BFC video, The Buffalo Trap, are the very things that these brave buffalo defenders attempted to stall and draw more attention to by using direct action tactics. The fact that Yellowstone would object to people trying to protect the buffalo — actions Yellowstone itself should be taking — just goes to show how tragically inculcated into Montana’s livestock industry’s culture the Park has drowned.
Please consider giving Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk a call to let him know you applaud the actions Cody, Thom, and Hannah took, and that you support the reasons they did so. #307-344-2002. Approximately 315 wild buffalo remain in Yellowstone’s capture facility, with close to 100 being held “for potential quarantine purposes.”
Quarantine not only results in slaughter and invasive, harmful human handling, but it also has severe ecological consequences, as it eliminates buffalo from the wild population — buffalo who are critical to the lives of endangered grizzly bears and wolves, and to the earth and grasslands community at large. Ultimately, quarantine results in domestication and commercialization of once-wild free-roaming buffalo.
Nearly 715 wild buffalo have been killed this winter, mainly through slaughter, but also through excessive hunting along Yellowstone’s north and west boundaries. Even with the knowledge of the dire straights of the Central herd, and the overall endangered status of wild buffalo, these buffalo “managers” are well on their way to surpassing the higher end of their kill quota of 600-900 buffalo. Winter kill mortalities have not even been considered in these politically-driven.
Two bull buffalo make their way through a late-winter blizzard, heading north out of Yellowstone, towards the killing fields of Beattie Gulch. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.
With the assistance of a talented canine, Kikki, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks have just busted three men from Park County (which includes Livingston and Gardiner), who poached three bull buffalo in the Beattie Gulch area, north of Yellowstone’s boundary. The incident happened in late-February. The three men cut the heads off of the bulls, skinned and hid them, and left the rest of their bodies to rot.
When they were sentenced on Tuesday, in Park County Justice Court, the poachers — identified as Jesse Darr, Ryley Heidt, and Peyton Simmons — plead guilty to unlawful possession, waste, and hunting during a closed season. In this particular case, as opposed to the sentencing of the buffalo defenders’, justice was leniently served. They received an 18-month jail sentence (suspended), $2,605 in fines, lost hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges for 54 months, and may not apply for permits for an additional five years after their privileges are reinstated.
Buffalo Hunting About to End for the Season
We are relieved to report that all buffalo hunting will finally be over by Sunday. Hunters continue to kill buffalo in the Gardiner Basin, but soon, our woolly friends will finally gain some respite from being under the gun for nearly six months straight. In the Hebgen Basin, along Yellowstone’s west boundary, buffalo are at peace from human harassment, and doing their best to survive this most difficult time of year.
Late-winter and early-spring are the times when some buffalo will not survive the challenges of winter’s tolls. The daytime snow is heavy and wet, and frozen in the dark hours, making it very difficult to crater through to the meager grass offerings below. Most buffalo are sticking to rivers, creeks, and tributaries, to graze sedges along the banks. So many of the adult female buffalo we are encountering are showing that they will soon be ready to give birth. We welcome the end of all this senseless killing, as it starts to give way to the approach of wild buffalo calving season.