Media Contact: Talon BringsBuffalo, 646-352-2126
An hour before sunlight on march 5th two members of the Wild Buffalo Defense collective named Cody and Crow descended from the hills onto Yellowstone National Park’s Stevens Creek buffalo trap and using a steel pipe, locked themselves to the bars of the “Silencer”, a hydraulic squeeze shoot that holds buffalo for testing, shipping and slaughter. In freezing temperatures the individuals blocked the buffalo processing facility and prevented the park from shipping wild buffalo to slaughter.
When asked why he was taking this action Cody stated, “I am standing with the plains Indians as a member of the Ojibwe tribe in Minnesota, I have a Blackfeet friend who helped me protect my territory from the line 3 pipeline and now I am here for him and the buffalo. I have a love for the people. That’s what my mom passed down to me. And I have love for the environment and animals and I feel like I have an obligation to protect them. If I have to put my body on the line to do so I will.”
The two Yellowstone buffalo herds are the last free ranging, genetically pure, plains buffalo in the United States. These buffalo are decedents of the 23 that survived the buffalo extermination campaign that the US government implemented in the 1800s to starve the plains Indians into submission.
Today the Stevens Creek Buffalo Trap costs the Yellowstone Parks Service 3 million dollars per year to maintain and despite years of public opposition continues to operate their capture-for-slaughter facility within the park boundary. Activists and tribes allege that the Montana cattle lobby controls how the Parks Service manages of the wild buffalo. Crow, the other individual who locked himself to the facility stated “They say they need to kill the animals to stop the spread of Brucellosis, but the wild elk have Brucellosis and they are allowed to roam free because the cattle industry is not worried about elk competing for grass and the state receives income from the elk hunting permits.” Every year the facility captures and sends roughly 1000 animals of the 4000 wild buffalo population to slaughter.
While the two individuals locked themselves to the shoot, some activists gathered at the gate of the facility with banners reading “Wild buffalo slaughter = cultural genocide.” Their signs spoke to the connection between the culture of the plains tribes and the wild buffalo, suggesting that by exterminating the last wild buffalo, Yellowstone is effectively attempting to do the same to the culture of the plains tribes. The non-violent direct action came in the wake of a decision by the Montana department of livestock and the animal plant and health inspection service to deny the Fort Peck Indian reservation the right to receive wild buffalo from the park.
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