Yellowstone, MT - 24 year-old Akiva Silver
disrupted the Montana Department of Livestock's (DOL)
plans to capture buffalo today by perching himself upon
a platform suspended from a 45-foot pole (monopod) erected
in the Horse Butte buffalo trap. The monopod is supported
by ropes anchored to the outer walls and gates of the
trap, making it impossible for agents to capture buffalo.
A large banner hanging from the platform reads, "Bison
Trap Closed to Protect Wildlife."
Silver, who witnessed the capture of hundreds of buffalo
by the Park Service near Gardiner last month, said,
"I refuse to stand by and watch my government destroy
the last vestige of wilderness left in North America.
These are public lands belonging to all Americans and
the DOL has no right to slaughter buffalo here or anywhere
else." He went on to add, "Since buffalo are
being killed by the very agencies entrusted with their
protection, it has become the responsibility of American
citizens to protect them on our own. This is why I am
A group of 50 buffalo migrated past the trap this morning,
eliciting cheers from the Buffalo Field Campaign volunteers
who had gathered to support Silver. "It was as
if the buffalo were celebrating the trap's closure,"
said BFC spokesperson Dan Brister, "Had Akiva not
been up there, those fifty buffalo now grazing peacefully
along the Madison River would be in the trap awaiting
The trap is located on the Gallatin National Forest
in an area that provides crucial habitat for the Yellowstone
buffalo and myriad other species. The Department of
Livestock has operated a buffalo trap here since 1999
under a Special Use Permit from the Forest Service.
The agency has used the Horse Butte trap to capture
and slaughter hundreds of Yellowstone buffalo.
While the livestock disease brucellosis is the stated
reason for the slaughter, there has never been a documented
case of wild buffalo transmitting the disease to livestock.
Since the Horse Butte grazing allotment was closed in
2002, there have been no cattle grazing on National
Forest lands on the Butte, making any transmission of
brucellosis absolutely impossible.
Since November the Department of Livestock and Park
Service have slaughtered 277 buffalo, the most killed
in a single year since 1996-'97, when the agencies killed
nearly 1,100. In the past ten years the Montana Department
of Livestock (DOL) and NPS have slaughtered 2,778 buffalo
in and around Yellowstone National Park. Buffalo slaughter
is costing federal taxpayers more than $3 million a
Agents from the Department of Livestock, the U.S. Forest
Service, the National Park Service, Gallatin County
Sheriff's Department, and the West Yellowstone Police
Department arrived on the scene before noon, but were
unable to remove Silver or his structure.
The Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) is the only group working
in the field, everyday, to stop the slaughter of Yellowstone's
wild buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo on their
traditional winter habitat and advocate for their protection.
Daily patrols stand with the buffalo on the ground they
choose to be on and document every move made against
Video Footage and Still Photos Available Upon Request.
Quicktime Video of Today's Events Available at: www.wildrockies.org/buffalo
The following statement
was written by Akiva Silver:
I refuse to stand by and watch my government freely
destroy what wildlife there is left.
Once it was illegal to hide a runaway slave, it was
illegal for women to vote. Nations have been colonized,
and holocausts have been committed. In all these situations
people have fought back. They refused to accept what
they knew to be wrong.
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.
I have broken our laws. I am sacrificing my freedom
and safety because my beliefs demand it. I have stood
with these buffalo so many times, on so many days to
the point where I recognize some as individuals. I've
watched them fall asleep on river beds, in open fields
and in forests. I've seen them run and play. I've been
within a few feet of live buffalo, and been humbled
as they looked into my eyes. I have seen hundreds of
buffalo chased, captured, tortured, and sent to slaughterhouses.
The things I have seen my government do to these buffalo
has made me cry. The things I saw made me stay up at
night and think about what I could do for the buffalo
migrating to Horse Butte this spring.
So here I am. Maybe you think my actions are extreme.
I feel that the slaughter and harassment of the last
wild herd of bison is more extreme. This is my way of
helping people understand what is happening to the buffalo.
National forests should provide sanctuary for wildlife.
Instead, they are being managed to appease livestock
producers, whose hands are bloody with the buffalo slaughter.
The Department of Livestock has no business managing
buffalo. The Department of Livestock should stick to
managing livestock. Why on Earth is the Department of
Livestock managing the last herd of wild buffalo in