Published March 7, 2018
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – Tuesda morning, a press release issued on Facebook by an emerging group, Wild Buffalo Defense, revealed that two members of Wild Buffalo Defense locked down inside Yellowstone National Park’s highly controversial Stephens Creek buffalo trap. The individuals secured themselves to “The Silencer,” the squeeze chute that holds wild buffalo for testing and other invasive procedures, before they are shipped off to slaughter facilities.
This winter, Yellowstone National Park has captured more than 500 wild buffalo inside this facility, though in the past two decades, thousands of the gentle giants — a sacred, keystone species who is our national mammal — have met their end after being captured at Stephens Creek and moved through this facility. All captured buffalo are destined for slaughter or domestication and commercialization in an effort to appease Montana’s cattle interests. The Yellowstone buffalo herds are the last continuously wild, migratory buffalo remaining in the nation. There is vast public support in Montana, the U.S., and around the globe for these buffalo to live wild and free on their ancestral lands.
Wild Buffalo Defense’s press release reports that the two individuals who locked down to the trap have been identified as Cody Cyson, an Ojibwa man, and Thomas Brown, a former Buffalo Field Campaign volunteer. After hours stalling Yellowstone’s capture and slaughter operations, Cyson and Brown were arrested. They have an arraignment date set for Wednesday morning, at Yellowstone’s headquarters, in Mammoth, Wyoming.
“We applaud these courageous souls for sacrificing their freedom to free wild buffalo and to draw more attention to this atrocious trap,” said BFC media coordinator Stephany Seay. “This action should send another strong message to Yellowstone National Park that there are many people who strongly oppose the current mismanagement of this American icon,” said Seay. “The Stephens Creek buffalo trap stands as a monument to oppression and control over beings who were born to roam free. They are the embodiment of wildness and freedom, and these qualities are precisely the reason they were chosen to represent this nation, supposedly the land of the free.”
The two herds who make up the Yellowstone buffalo population are the last wild buffalo to have continuously existed on the land since before European settlers arrived. These buffalo are the direct descendants of the 23 individual buffalo who saved their kind from extinction by seeking shelter in what is now Yellowstone’s Pelican Valley. The ancestors of the buffalo who survive today escaped the extermination campaign that the U.S. Government implemented during the 19th Century, in an attempt to starve the Plains peoples. Yellowstone’s senseless buffalo slaughter is considered by indigenous buffalo cultures and bison advocates at large as a continuation of genocide. During the time the two men were locked down at the trap, others gathered at the gate to the Stephens Creek facility holding a banner that reads, “Buffalo Slaughter = Cultural Genocide.”
When asked why he was taking this action, risking his own freedom and possible injury, Cody Cyson said, “I am standing with the Plains Indians as a member of the Ojibwa 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.”
All buffalo captured at Stephens Creek are destined for direct shipments to slaughter, or confinement, slaughter and domestication through an as yet unapproved quarantine plan. Yellowstone, Montana, and other government officials distort the reality of capture for slaughter or quarantine, claiming it is necessary in order to appease Montana’s intolerance for the native grazers.
“Through a political, livestock industry-crafted population cap, Yellowstone National Park officials are licking the boots of the Montana livestock industry and are managing the last wild, migratory bison population in the nation – our national mammal – to maintain it a minimum population that is well below a genetically viable population. They are driving the world’s most important bison population towards extinction,” said Ken Cole, Buffalo Field Campaign’s executive director.