Photo used courtesy of a Wild Buffalo Defense press release
As they emerged from court, photos show that three ecoterrorists were smiling after being given a slap on the wrist for interfering with the study of bison in Yellowstone National Park.
Hannah Ponder, 22, 25-year-old Cody Cyson and 36-year-old Thomas Brown, of the group Wild Buffalo Defense, called themselves “Buffalo Warriors” in a social media post Monday afternoon, and asked other people with an anti-slaughter attitude to pay for their legal fees.
The trio were sentenced to unsupervised probation for five years and banned from Yellowstone National Park for five years. Brown and Cyson face a total penalty of $1,050, while Ponder faces a total of $1,040. The fines are to be paid to Yellowstone Forever’s Wildlife Protection Fund.
According to the post, in his sentencing statement Brown stated: “Our act was in defense of wild buffalo, beings who have no protection, so I just find it pretty ironic that part of our fine is to pay a wildlife fund that serves the very agency facilitating the buffalo slaughter.”
The group argues that Yellowstone’s management of bison is unjust.
“Despite the efforts of the federal law enforcement and the judge to intimidate community members wishing to take action against the Stephens Creek slaughter facility; Wild Buffalo Defense will continue to use direct action to protect these sacred animals,” the group wrote in their post.
A campaign fund has raised $1,950 online for the ecoterrorists. Another $1,605 has been raised for the group’s legal fees.
The Stephens Creek facility has been hard hit many times since January. The government says the interference is hurting bison conservation.
The following is the press release the USA released following one of the releases of bison:
On the morning of January 16, 2018, park staff discovered 52 bison, held at the Stephens Creek facility for possible quarantine, had been released from the pens. The National Park Service has initiated a criminal investigation of this incident at the Stephens Creek facility in Yellowstone National Park.
Currently, park staff are making an effort to locate and recapture the bison. At this time, none of the animals have been located.
The missing bull bison were being held in two separate pens. A group of 24 animals have been in confinement since March 2016 and the other group of 28 animals, since March 2017. These animals were being held and tested for brucellosis at Stephens Creek as part of a plan being considered to establish a quarantine program. The purpose of that program would be to augment or establish new conservation and cultural herds of disease-free plains bison, enhance cultural and nutritional opportunities for Native Americans, reduce the shipment of Yellowstone bison to meat processing facilities, and conserve a viable, wild population of Yellowstone bison.
“This is an egregious criminal act that sets back bison conservation. It delays critical ongoing discussions about a quarantine program and the transfer of live Yellowstone bison to tribal lands. The park is aggressively investigating this incident,” said Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk.
“I am absolutely heartbroken for the Fort Peck Tribes who have been working with the park, the state of Montana, and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for years to repatriate these bison,” said Secretary Zinke. “The criminals who broke into a national park facility to release these bison put at risk the safety of the animals that are now at risk of being culled and our park rangers who are rounding them up. I will be working with Secretary Perdue to see if we can get back on track to transfer the brucellosis free bulls to the tribe this year.”
The Stephens Creek facility is closed permanently to the public.
Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call the Yellowstone National Park Tip Line at 307-344-2132 or e-mail us. For more information, visit http://go.nps.gov/tipline.
Montana is a frequent target for ecoterrorists. Read previous MORS coverage of it here: http://www.montanaoutdoor.com/2016/02/when-activism-goes-to-far-ecoterrorism-ties-in-montana/