We have a huge JEER because the well-armed domestic terrorists who in January took over a federal building in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon—to make a statement about the “rights” of cattle ranchers while threatening to shoot someone—have not been brought to justice.
A jury has completely acquitted them, despite the fact the standoff led to the shooting death of one protester by police and left parts of the refuge badly damaged.
The domestic terrorists drove to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, seized control of its headquarters, and posted guards in camouflage outside. Then the militia members, led in part by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, infamously greedy cattle rancher Cliven Bundy’s sons, said they were willing to even kill and be killed in their effort to have federal land turned over to local authorities so that their cattle could have more land to graze on.
Unsurprisingly, federal officials weren’t willing to meet these coddled rancher’s demands, and nearly six weeks after the takeover began, the domestic terrorists exited the wildlife refuge, and Ammon and Ryan Bundy, among others, were taken into custody and charged with a variety of crimes.
To add insult to injury The Huffington Post reported that the occupation has ended up costing more than $9 million in taxpayer money, not including the court costs. Officials were also worried that Native American artifacts had been damaged during the Oregon standoff.
The Bundy’s and the rest of their cronies have no respect for the wildlife that calls the 187,757-acre Oregon refuge home. It provides habitat for more than 320 species of birds, including greater sandhill cranes, tundra swans, northern pintail swans, snow geese, pelicans, and ducks. Strategically located along the Pacific Flyway, the refuge manages habitats essential for birds migrating through the area or birds staying to breed and nest in the diverse habitats. It’s also home to 58 species of mammals including mule deer, pronghorn antelope, Rocky Mountain elk, coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions.
We couldn’t even imagine if this group happened to be one consisting of animal rights activists. In fact, earlier this year Friends of Animals was treated much worse than these ranchers when we dared go over our two-minute time limit to speak during the public comment period at a Bureau of Land Management meeting earlier this year in Oklahoma City. We were armed with posters, not guns, yet were dragged out of the meeting, yet the Bundy’s and their entourage were brought food and supplies and suffered nearly zero consequences.
The issue of ranchers and public land disputes is nothing new. Despite the fact that public lands ranchers are heavily subsidized by government and pay absurdly low fees for grazing permits, this greedy, vicious group of people want more and more land to be turned into feedlots for the condemned animals they slaughter.
The jury’s decision should be cause for concern. It sends the message to welfare ranchers they are entitled to bully the federal government and its policies, some of which protect wildlife. But despite this outcome, Friends of Animals will continue fighting to uphold the federal laws put in place to protect free-roaming animals. Our vision continues to be one where hunting, fishing and cattle and sheep grazing is prohibited from National Wildlife Refuges and federal public lands across America.