For Immediate Release:
April 13, 2004
Ted Fellman (406) 646-0070
West Yellowstone, Montana - After a week suspended from a 45 pole inside of the Horse Butte buffalo trap, Akiva Silver was removed and arrested this afternoon. The monopod that Silver occupied was supported by ropes anchored to the outer walls and gates of the trap, making it impossible for the trap to be used to capture buffalo for the past week. A large banner hanging from the platform read, "Bison Trap Closed to Protect Wildlife." Silver's week long forced closure of the trap ended just one day before his 25th birthday.
Representatives from the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL), the US Forest Service, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and local law enforcement arrived at Horse Butte early this afternoon and removed Silver around 2:00 PM using a cherrypicker. Also present were about a dozen supporters, including his mother, and a small herd of buffalo grazing on Horse Butte.
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 what wildlife there is left. National forests should provide sanctuary for wildlife. Instead they are being managed to appease livestock producers, whose hands are bloody with the buffalo slaughter."
Silver claimed victory after 50 buffalo were hazed from Horse Butte last week. "I think I've made a difference. At least 50 buffalo weren't captured," he said before being arrested. Spokespeople for the DOL and Gallatin National Forest have made public statements that Silver did not change anything with his act of civil disobedience since there are no plans to capture buffalo in the next months. Those statements will be put to the test this month as more buffalo migrate to Horse Butte to calve.
"The Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) has offered to help the DOL remove the trap. We could save tax dollars and minimize the impact on critical wildlife habitat. Sadly, the officers present today seemed more intent on opening the trap for continued use this season," said Ted Fellman with the BFC.
The Yellowstone bison migrate to Horse Butte every spring to calve. This yearly migration on national forests is disrupted by the DOL's policy of hazing, capturing and slaughtering wild bison on public lands with no cattle present. There have not been cattle grazing on public land on Horse Butte for over two years. On the northern boundary of Yellowstone near Gardiner, wild buffalo are allowed to graze near Eagle Creek while cows calve nearby.
In the past ten years the Montana Department of Livestock and National Park Service have slaughtered 2,786 buffalo in and around Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone buffalo slaughter is slated to cost taxpayers nearly $3 million a year until 2015.
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 them.