Comfrey Jacobs vs U.S. Government
For Immediate Release:
March 11, 2014
Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign, 406-646-0070 or 0071
Mike Mease, Buffalo Field Campaign, 406-646-0070 or 0071
Comfrey Jacobs, 970-314-3339
Yellowstone National Park - Comfrey Jacobs appeared in U.S. federal court today for his first arraignment after being arrested for blocking the road to Yellowstone National Park's bison trap on Thursday morning, March 6, 2014. Mr. Jacobs was charged with three offenses: disorderly conduct, breaking a closure, and interfering with a government operation. He was offered a plea bargain: if he plead guilty he would be charged $1,000 in restitution, be placed on unsupervised probation for five years, and be banned from Yellowstone National Park for five years.
Mr. Jacobs did not accept the plea bargain, as he is awaiting further legal council. There will be a continuation of his arraignment on April 2, 2014. If Mr. Jacobs chooses to go to trial, he will be tried by a judge and not a jury of his peers.
The goal of Comfrey's decision to block access to Yellowstone's bison trap was to prevent more of America's last wild, migratory bison -- the most important bison population in the world -- from being shipped to slaughter. Mr. Jacobs stalled slaughter operations for more than two hours.
Comfrey's action demonstrated strong public opposition to the buffalo slaughter and has drawn an incredible amount of media and public attention to the issue. The day following Mr. Jacob's blockade, Yellowstone National Park issued their only press release for this year's controversial bison operations, announcing that the Stephens Creek bison trap was empty and Yellowstone had no further plans to capture this season.
"My action raised enough public awareness that Yellowstone announced a cease to their operations the following day," Mr. Jacobs said.
This was the first time a citizen exercised civil disobedience at Yellowstone's Stephens Creek bison trap. Yellowstone National Park initiates a 7-mile public access closure surrounding their Stephens Creek bison trap while highly controversial bison management activities are underway. Members of Buffalo Field Campaign were present to document and lend support.
Comfrey told Buffalo Field Campaign, "I have no regrets. I accept all the consequences of my actions and hope it raises awareness on this issue."
Since February 7, approximately 450 wild buffalo have been captured in Yellowstone National Park's Stephens Creek bison trap, located in the Gardiner Basin. 318 were shipped to slaughter or research facilities and some were released. Additionally, more than 270 wild bison have been killed by state and treaty hunters just outside Yellowstone's boundary in Montana. Through hunting, slaughter and consignment to research, more than 600 of America's last wild, migratory bison have been eliminated this year, marking a decimation of the world's most significant bison herds.
"Comfrey Jacobs is a hero," said BFC's Executive Director Dan Brister. "His actions speak for thousands of people who are upset by the slaughter of America's last wild buffalo."
Yellowstone and its partners in the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) have set an arbitrary population target of 3,000-3,500 bison, yet a Yellowstone bison carrying capacity study has determined that the Park can sustain upwards of 6,200 wild bison. Additionally, there are tens of thousands of acres of public lands surrounding Yellowstone that could sustain thousands more.
"The IBMP's population target is totally driven by politics with no basis in science," said Stephany Seay, a BFC spokesperson. "Wild American bison are ecologically extinct throughout their native range, and while they have no federal protections they certainly warrant Endangered Species Act protections."
The wild bison of Yellowstone are the most significant bison populations in the world, the direct descendants to the tens of millions that once thundered across North America. Wild, migratory bison are ecologically extinct throughout their historic range with fewer than 4,000 existing in and around Yellowstone. They are the only bison to hold their identity as a wildlife species. North America's largest land mammal, wild bison are a keystone species critical to the health and integrity of grasslands and prairie ecosystems.
The zero-tolerance bison politics of Montana's livestock industry are driving the policies that are pushing these significant herds back to the brink of extinction. This is also the first year that IBMP-affiliated tribes have signed slaughter agreements with Yellowstone, and have shipped bison to tribal slaughter facilities.
Buffalo Field Campaign is a non-profit public interest organization founded in 1997 to stop the slaughter of Yellowstone's wild bison, protect the natural habitat of wild free-roaming bison and other native wildlife, and to work with people of all Nations to honor the sacredness of wild bison. BFC has its headquarters in West Yellowstone, Montana, and is supported by volunteers and participants around the world who value America's native wildlife and the ecosystems upon which they depend.