For more than two weeks, a group of armed militia members has occupied the headquarters of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in a protest of government overreach. The issue is highly contentious and has deeply divided opinions in rural Harney County, although law enforcement officials have repeatedly made requests for the militia members to leave. One group of hunters recently traveled to the refuge and symbolically removed the canvas covering up the entrance sign to Malheur, calling the militia occupation ” an extremist attempt to grab our public lands.” The effort was led by Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA), a hunting and conservation organization dedicated to preserving public lands and the right of sportsmen to access them.

“This past week, a group of Oregon and Washington BHA members joined-up at the extremist-controlled Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon to make a strong stand against those who seek to seize our American public lands,” stated the organization, which recently uploaded a video of members protesting the occupation of the refuge.

You can see that video below:

BHA was one of the first conservation groups to publicly criticize the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Despite resentment from local residents and calls from many organizations asking for the group’s ouster, the militia still enjoys support from many who sympathize with their plight. This includes some hunters, but BHA has firmly stated its opposition to the militia takeover.

“National wildlife refuges like Malheur are a treasure shared by all Americans,” stated BHA President and CEO Land Tawney in a press release. “The actions being perpetrated by extremists in Oregon are the misguided actions of a fringe element—and should be condemned by sportsmen and all citizens in the strongest terms.”

The militia group is led by Ammon Bundy, the son of Cliven Bundy, who was at the heart of the Bundy standoff in Nevada in 2014. The group moved into the refuge in protest of the charges against two local ranchers, who were convicted for unlawfully setting fire to federal land—which local hunters alleged was to cover up poaching. The militia also recently demanded that the federal government cede ownership of the wildlife refuge, a point that has alienated many conservationists.

“The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is a popular hunting area for waterfowl and upland gamebirds,” stated Tawney. “It is one unit in a system of millions of acres of public lands on which American families depend for access to and opportunity in the great outdoors.”

So far, the occupation has not resulted in violence, but some conservation groups worry about damage to the refuge and what a long term closure could mean. The Guardian reported that the militia may have paved a new road though a part of the refuge and destroyed a fence to allow cattle to graze on public lands. The US Fish and Wildlife Service strongly condemned these actions, but officials have yet to take any serious action against the militia.

BHA urged “cool, patient heads” in dealing with the issue.

“As sportsmen and conservationists, we urge the occupiers to end this fool’s errand,” said Brian Jennings, BHA’s Oregon outreach coordinator, “and we urge the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to keep their employees safe, be patient and thoroughly enforce the law.”

What are your thoughts on the matter? Let us know in the comments below.

Image screenshot of video by Backcountry Hunters & Anglers on YouTube

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  • BarkingDawg

    The “militia” wants to take over all the public land for themselves.

    • Joe

      Not accurate at all.

      • BarkingDawg

        Don’t be a gullible fool.

      • Starbugary

        It’s completely accurate and its exactly what they are doing up there right now…they should be thrown in prison for a long time! They’ve already committed numerous crimes, stealing and tampering with property that isn’t theirs, destroying land that has been carefully conserved, they are a bunch of bullies and I hope they throw the book at all of them, prosecute, fine, convict and imprison!

      • cookiect2003

        Unconstitutional laws are laws in name only and citizens of the USA have a duty to disregard such “laws” in order to prevent the encroachment of the federal government into every aspect of our lives.

      • Starbugary

        Which law is it that you think is unconstitutional? Because from my understanding most of these Bundy Bullies aren’t interpreting the constitution correctly. They think that the government can only own “10 square miles of land” and that clause only deals with the district, it isn’t talking about the entire country its talking about the establishment of the capital. They’ve taken it out of context and even then they don’t understand it. Congress does have every right to manage land owned by the people of the USA, they do so through agencies like the BLM, nothing unconstitutional there!

      • Mindforms

        He doesn’t know. I’ve got $10 says he’s never read the document.

    • cookiect2003

      retard

      • BarkingDawg

        Yeah, they are, aren’t they.

        They think that public land, owned by the federal government belongs to them and them alone.

    • ihatelibs

      IDIOT . Go back to the Start of exactly what Caused this . The GUBMINT is Trying to STEAL from the Land OWNERS , who PAID for Grazing rights FOR that Land . The GUBMINT , Even tried BURNING OUT , Some of those Ranchers Grazing lands .

      • BarkingDawg

        do you understand what a LEASE is?

      • Mindforms

        Obviously you are referring to yourself as the idiot. These asswipes are trying to steal land that WE own because they’re mad they have to pay a tiny fraction of what they’d pay for grazing rights on privately held land. They’re a bunch of old white male welfare queens and will hopefully spend many years in a federal pen.

  • ben

    Hunters have been investing in our National Wildlife Refuge System for 100+ years, since the days of TR. We can’t let anyone erode that heritage or take away our access and habitat.

  • howard117

    I think the militia should be offered 72 hours to surrender, and when they don’t, they should be taken out by whatever means necessary.

    • TOM

      They are boycotts compared to Black Lives Matter. So what should we do about them???

      • dddfaber

        No, they are armed insurrectionists destroying public property.

      • Mindforms

        Baloney. If they were black they’d already be dead.

  • TreeHugger

    How can all of these articles and comments talk about these guys seizing and taking over public lands, when they themselves are part of the public and have the right to be on the land. Why should a birder have more of a right then a farmer? Why should a hiker have more of a right then a logger? The fact is, we the public can take care of the land (and I don’t want now BS comment about how people neglected the land in the early 1900’s, science and technology are far beyond that now)! Why does someone who loves to be outdoors want to have the federal government telling them when and where they are allowed to recreate on supposed public land?

    • David

      A birder does not destroy the land. A farmer would have to plow up and seed the land. This makes that public land private because no on else would be able to use it. Again, a hiker would not destroy the land. As soon as the are is logged it would be ruined for outdoor people. Why should the farmer or logger profit from the use of public land that they have taken over? Hope that answers your questions.

  • Justin Waters

    I wish the East coast had more federally protected land. The land is our common heritage. My ancestors entered Florida when it was known for cattle, when Crackers rounded up cattle from the forest by cracking their whips. Today, Florida’s cattle industry has been offset by enormous population growth and urban sprawl. If the BLM owned more land in Florida it could have preserved this part of Florida heritage and created more land for hunting, fishing, and hiking.

  • Iggee Popp

    Well done BHA!!! Let’s hope that the Malheur refuge doesn’t suffer too much damage before this is over. And I hope there are serious legal consequences for the criminals involved. If not, it will only further encourage more of these acts. Failure to charge Cliven and co is in part responsible for this. It’s nuts that Cliven still hasn’t been forced to pay what he owes and hasn’t been charged in connection with the 2014 standoff. Though the Harney county judge does seem committed to holding these nuts accountable in the end.

  • Texan Gunowner

    These people are on the federal land as illegally as illegal aliens are in this country. The law is the law and for the good of all citizens. They should be forceably removed at once.

    • Steve

      They burnt a little land and get called domestic terrorists? Ever heard of the Patriot Act? I’d be occupying too if I was them. They aren’t trying to take land. I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure they aren’t willing to die for some cattle pasture.

  • RPJ

    These people need to read the history of this case & they will see that the Government has been abusive & over reaching. The Government has been forcing ranchers to sell there land for years in basically a land grab.
    These hunters think that the Government is keeping & maintaining this land for them. Just how naive can they be. At any time they can be shut out of these places. Their “rights” to hunt in these lands revoked at the whim of some politician.
    This is a case of we can be our own worst enemies. These people really believe that the Government is here to help them? This current Government is a lot of things, a friend of the people isn’t one of them.

    • Steve

      Exactly

    • Ron Elliott

      I’m not sure how much public access birders, hunters or fishers have to private grazing land, stripmines or logged areas, which is what these vanillaISIS klowns want. If they don’t want the land public, then they should give it back to the people the government stole it from, the native Americans.

  • Steve

    The media lies and spins stories

  • Geoffrey Howard

    Prison or grave for the Seditious insurgents…….

  • Love Eddie Owens

    These law-breakers need to be arrested and taken to jail. The Bundy’s cattle needs to be removed in Nevada.

  • alandeon2 .

    Do you believe that these ranchers are willing to allow free access to the hunters once they “retake” the land? Or even take responsibility for the controlled burns. Or do you think they’d eventually block the hunters and allow the dry woods to grow uncontrolled until there is a huge fire some day.

    • BarkingDawg

      I think that these “Mil-Idiots” are not real ranchers.

      Isn’t it calving season?

  • Lee

    These people came to the refuge looking for a fight. This is not a peaceful protest in any way. You do not bring a firearm of any sort to a protest and say, “I’m here peacefully protesting something” and then say, “I am willing to kill and die for this reason.” These guys just want to keep militias relevant in today’s society so they show up for any reason what so ever to get attention.

    This group is no better than people causing riots because of court case outcomes. Threatening violence does not solve the problem at all. It just makes you the one on the other side of the law. The fact of the matter is they are breaking the laws of this country. Treat them as what they are: Criminals.