Published April 7, 2018
MAMMOTH, YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – On Wednesday, Wolf, one of two gentlemen who locked down to concrete-filled barrels to block the access road to Yellowstone National Park’s Stephens Creek buffalo trap was arraigned and sentenced in federal court at Yellowstone’s Justice Center. Wolf and another man, Coyote, were arrested on March 16, for attempting to block Yellowstone National Park from shipping imperiled wild buffalo to slaughter.
“Wolf is a hero to a whole lot of people world-wide,” said Buffalo Field Campaign’s media coordinator Stephany Seay. “He put his body on the line to try to stop what the vast majority of us want to see end. Yellowstone is ignoring citizens through the public process, so Wolf took it a step further to make sure we were all heard.”
Wolf is the fifth person to be arrested in less than a month for trying to stop Yellowstone National Park from shipping the country’s last wild buffalo to slaughter.
Yellowstone operates an industrial size bison trap within park boundaries at the behest of Montana’s livestock interests, who fear the gentle giants and view them as competitors for grass. Each year, Yellowstone decision-makers consult with Montana livestock officials, as well as other state, federal, and tribal entities, and set a plan to kill migratory bison. This year, the agencies set a goal to remove 600-900 buffalo. Though representative tribes aimed for fewer to be killed, Yellowstone took every opportunity and far exceeded their agreed upon kill quota, and have eliminated nearly 1,200 buffalo from the country’s last wild population. Tribes and other buffalo advocates raised red flag warnings about the slaughter, given the dire straights of the last wild population, and in particular Yellowstone’s Central buffalo herd, the original survivors from the U.S. government-led attempted Native genocide during the 19th century. Yellowstone’s summer population estimate reported fewer than 850 buffalo remaining in that herd. It is unknown how many remain after this winter’s indiscriminate slaughter.
The wild buffalo of Yellowstone are the country’s last continuously wild, migratory herds, a sacred, keystone species, and the national mammal of the U.S.
When Wolf and Coyote barricaded the access road to Yellowstone’s trap, Park law enforcement officers were aggressive and verbally abusive, telling the men, “We are going to get around you. These buffalo are going to die today and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.”
Park rangers went even further to facilitate buffalo slaughter by bulldozing a new road around the blockade, destroying important winter range habit.
“I think people should think very critically about Yellowstone National Park punishing a citizen for doing exactly what Yellowstone should be doing: protecting the buffalo who America and the world at large has placed in their care,” said Seay. “Their aggressive nature and staunch defense of wild buffalo slaughter is a testament to their shame. They know what they are doing is wrong, and that’s why they want to hide it.”
A press release from the collective Wild Buffalo Defense reports that Wolf plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges of trespassing and interfering with an agency function. Federal Judge Mark Carman sentenced Wolf to three years of unsupervised probation, $1,000 in fines, and a three-year ban from entering Yellowstone National Park. As Wild Buffalo Defense reported, “the heavy sentencing made it clear that any criticism of Yellowstone National Park’s mismanagement of wild buffalo is unacceptable to the federal government.”
Following his sentencing, Wolf stated, “I participated in non-violent direct action to prevent trailers from accessing the road to [Yellowstone’s] Stephens Creek capture facility. My actions were circumvented by the dedication of the Park Service. I saw that day how dedicated Yellowstone National Park is to the slaughter of the American bison, our national mammal. I’ve witnessed these sacred animals being killed and the painful memories remain. Their deaths are facilitated by the mismanagement of the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP), backed with shoddy science, ranching interests, and keep the bison on the brink of death.”
Twenty-four percent of the country’s last wild buffalo herds have been killed this year.
“By any definition, what has happened to the bison is worse than decimation,” said Ken Cole, executive director for Buffalo Field Campaign. “Rather than take just one in ten, they have killed one quarter of the nation’s last wild, free-roaming bison.”
You can support the heroic actions of Wolf, and the other Wild Buffalo Defense members, by contributing to their legal fund.