Yellowstone and Department of Livestock Continue to Capture and Slaughter Wild Bison

For Immediate Release:
February 27, 2008

Buffalo Field Campaign, Nathan Drake or Stephany Seay 406-646-0070

West Yellowstone, Montana - The man who perched upon a platform suspended from the top of a pair of poles on public land inside the Horse Butte bison trap in protest of bison slaughter, Nathan Drake, 26, was forcibly removed and arrested Monday night by state and federal agents. He was charged with three misdemeanors: obstruction, trespassing, and resisting arrest. He was released on $5,000 bail, reportedly the highest yet for bison-related direct action protest.

Montana Department of Livestock agents, Gallatin National Forest law enforcement and a Gallatin County sheriff were present and participated in the removal of the citizen.

"The agents who made their way up to my perch with an eighty foot cherry picker were unconcerned with my safety," said Nathan. "They cut my sleeping bag that was my protection from the Montana winter, took off my boots and threw them to the ground, attempting to freeze me out of my lock box. The sheriff and Forest Service agent cut my safety line, attached me to the cherry-picker bucket and threw me in it."

Contact us for exclusive Buffalo Field Campaign video footage of Nathan's protest and subsequent removal and arrest.

During the ordeal, Nathan maintained non-violent, non-threatening behavior, however the officers involved in extracting him from the bipod used considerable force and pain compliance to remove him from his position.

"They nearly broke my arms while descending with me. I was still attached by my lock box to a leg of the bipod," said Nathan. "I was screaming in excruciating pain, and I looked down to see Montana DOL agent Shane Grube laughing at my plight and continuing to offer suggestions that would grossly endanger my life and the lives of the agents who were throwing me against the bucket of the cherry picker over and over."

Forty-five minutes into their attempt to cut Nathan out of the lock box with a pipe cutter, they tossed him to the ground. Five agents then picked up one leg of the bipod, which was precariously balanced, risking Nathan's life, where they attempted to pull him out from underneath it.

"It was indeed the scariest moment of my life," said Nathan.

Nathan occupied the Horse Butte bison trap, effectively rendering it inoperable for 15 hours, in protest of the continued capture and slaughter of the United State's last wild population of American bison. He took this direct action because of the tens of thousands of citizens who, for years, have protested the slaughter of wild bison yet have been completely ignored by decision-makers involved with the Interagency Bison Management Plan. Public officials are adhering only to Montana cattle interests.

"I risked life and freedom on behalf of the thousands of frustrated people fed up with this government and their full tilt assault on the last wild bison," said Nathan. "I know full well that the frustration felt in me was echoed with the tens of thousands of people who called, wrote and petitioned the government to voice their concerns for these amazing animals; concerns that repeatedly fall upon deaf ears."

The Montana Department of Livestock constructed the Horse Butte bison trap last week for the first time since 2004. Horse Butte is mainly publicly-owned national forest land, habitat favored by wild bison, and is one-hundred percent cattle-free at all times of year. On Tuesday, Department of Livestock agents captured 30 wild buffalo in the Horse Butte trap, shipping them to slaughter Wednesday morning.

As of Wednesday, in contrast to the public interest, Yellowstone National Park and the Montana Department of Livestock have collectively captured nearly 600 wild American bison, and have already sent 437 to slaughter. None of the bison have been, or will be tested for exposure to brucellosis, the supposed reason for the severe management actions.

While the government's official reason for the slaughter is to prevent the spread of brucellosis from wild bison to cattle, no such transmission has ever been documented. Because there are no cattle on any part of the Horse Butte Peninsula at any time of the year, such a transmission is impossible and Montana's intolerance for bison in the area unjustifiable.

More than 2,500 wild American bison have been killed or otherwise removed from the remaining wild population since 2000 under actions carried out under the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP), as well as state and treaty hunts. The IBMP is a joint state-federal plan that prohibits wild bison from migrating to lands outside of Yellowstone's boundaries. Wild American bison are a migratory species native to vast expanses of North America and are ecologically extinct everywhere in the United States outside of Yellowstone National Park.

Buffalo Field Campaign strongly opposes the Interagency Bison Management Plan and maintains that wild bison should be allowed to naturally and fully recover themselves throughout their historic native range, especially on public lands.

Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field, every day, to stop the slaughter of the wild American buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo and their native habitat and advocate for their lasting protection.