Big Sky Connection
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March 7, 2018
GARDINER, Mont. - Two people have been arrested at a Yellowstone buffalo holding facility as they tried to prevent the animals from being killed.
Two members of the group Wild Buffalo Defense, Cody Cyson and Thomas Brown, locked themselves to the bars of a pen that holds the animals for disease testing on Tuesday. Yellowstone National Park has captured about 500 wild buffalo this winter and placed them in the Stephens Creek facility near Gardiner, a Montana town located at the gateway to the park.
Talon BringsBuffalo with Wild Buffalo Defense is a member of the Blackfeet Nation. He said his group wants the federal government to pull out of the Interagency Bison Management Plan, under which the animals are culled;
"... and work to restore buffalo to ceded treaty territory and the Plains once again and let the population expand, rather than keeping it at an arbitrary number of 3,000 for the cattle industry," BringsBuffalo said.
Yellowstone National Park is keeping buffalo in the Stephens Creek facility out of concern they could spread the disease brucellosis. The park plans to round up between 600 and 900 buffalo this year for quarantine or slaughter.
The two protesters are scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday in Mammoth, Wyo.
Fears over the spread of brucellosis from bison to cattle may be misguided. BringsBuffalo said there are no recorded cases of buffalo transmitting the disease. He said the Interagency Management Plan is designed to please the cattle industry.
"Rather than keeping the buffalo kind of on a reservation of Yellowstone National Park, really it's the cattle that should be fenced in and the buffalo should be allowed to roam free," he said. "They are a sacred animal to the first peoples of this nation and really important to them."
There are about 4,800 wild buffalo in the Yellowstone herd - the last wild buffalo left roaming in the United States. In 2017, 1,200 wild buffalo were slaughtered, in part because the state of Montana does not tolerate the animal outside the park, according to Yellowstone officials.