DOL Captures Over 60 Buffalo on Horse Butte: 4 BFC Volunteers Illegally detained and 5 Arrested
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 14, 1999 Media Contact: Jennifer Karinen, John Reese (406) 646-0070
WEST YELLOWSTONE- This morning the DOL hazed with snowmobiles and captured over 60 buffalo in their new capture facility on Horse Butte. Yesterday our volunteers counted 63 bison grazing on the spring exposed slopes next to the newly constructed buffalo trap on the Gallatin National Forest. Today's capture brings the total number of buffalo captured this year to over 100.
Molly Karp, 17, of New York used handcuffs and James Blakely, 19, used a steel pipe lockbox to lock themselves to a cattle guard on Forest Service Road 610 in an attempt to prevent the capture of more buffalo on Horse Butte. Allison Lovejoy, 21, of Missoula, was arrested as she stood on the road and watched the arrest. Jeremy O'Day, 22, of Missoula, was arrested on Horse Butte as he drove a snowmobile. Robert Laitman was also arrested as he stood on the FS road 610. No charges have been brought at this time.
More then twenty law enforcement officers from the DOL, Forest Service, Montana Highway Patrol, and Gallatin County Sheriff's office were on hand to assist with the capture operation.
"Despite the inaccuracy of their testing process and the inability of these buffalo to transmit brucellosis, these agencies continue to waste taxpayer money on the capture and slaughter of America's last wild herd of buffalo," said Pete Leusch, Buffalo Field Campaign spokesperson.
The U.S. Forest Service issued a warning to the Montana Department of Livestock this week for hazing buffalo in closed eagle habitat on March 31. Despite this warning, DOL agents entered these areas again today to round up buffalo.
Along with being a key area in winter migration for Yellowstone bison, Horse Butte is critical habitat for threatened bald eagles. In an attempt to protect nesting sites the Forest Service added restrictions to the DOL's permit allowing them to operate their bison trap used to capture and test bison leaving Yellowstone National Park.
This spring, hundreds of buffalo have left the park in search of forage after the long winter of deep snow. Horse Butte is critical winter range for the Yellowstone buffalo. Warm south-facing slopes of the Butte provide the most plentiful available forage for migrating buffalo.
In a separate incident this morning at 2:15 a.m., as four Buffalo Field Campaign volunteers were walking in the Horse Butte area of the Gallatin National Forest, they were illegally detained by Department of Livestock agents. One volunteer, Zacharie Quin, age 25, was tackled, yelled at with obscene language, and forced to the ground by DOL agents although he did nothing to resist arrest. After being detained for over an hour Quin was cited and released. He was told he would be formally charged with conspiracy to engage in a possibly violent protest and trespassing. After being questioned and photographed by Rob Burns, Gallatin County Sheriff, all 4 were released.
"When I asked what I was being charged with, a DOL officer said, 'doing stuff in that road'. I informed him truthfully that I had not done anything in 'that road'. I obviously could not have done anything as I had not been able to go down the road, due to being tackled," Quin said.
Tuesday DOL Hazing Operation Foiled
Two DOL agents on snowmobiles fired cracker barrel shots frightening four buffalo out of Red Canyon and down Highway 287 towards their Duck Creek Facility at 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.
Twelve activists from the Buffalo Field Campaign were at the scene and responded quickly when bison jumped off the road and ran up a hill into U.S. Forest Service land. Activists put themselves between the buffalo and the snowmobiles preventing the DOL from chasing the bison back to the highway. They shepherded the buffalo into a wooded area where the snowmobiles could not follow. Not long after the DOL agents left with a sheriff and a U.S. forest service official who were also at the scene.
Video Footage Available upon Request. Scanned still photos available from our website, www.wildrockies.org/buffalo
Buffalo Field Campaign (formerly Buffalo Nations)
PO Box 957 West Yellowstone, MT 59758