The armed squatters at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon have begun rummaging through government documents at the reserve.
According to ABC News, leader Ammon Bundy told reporters he is confident that he will find evidence in the trove of files to help free Dwight and Steven Hammond, local ranchers convicted on arson charges who are currently serving out their sentences and who were the inspiration for the occupation of the refuge.
Bundy’s group of militiamen are also hoping to “expose” federal employees’ transgressions against local ranchers, ABC says. The document raid is just the latest example of destruction at the ranch. Monday, Bundy and his crew began tearing apart federal fencing at the reserve to allow one local rancher family to move its cattle through the area.
While they have accessed hard copies of government documents, ABC is reporting that the militiamen claim they are not searching government computers. Reporters over the weekend said they saw the militiamen using the computers, but Bundy and company denied it.
“No, we haven’t touched a single personal item. We haven’t touched any of the computers, we haven’t tried to log on—we haven’t done anything,” Bundy told OPB reporter John Sepulvado.
Fish and Wildlife officials are concerned that uncovered documents could undermine the safety of federal employees’ whose names are on the them.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Spokesman Jason Holm told ABC that Fish and Wildlife “is taking necessary steps to ensure employee and family safety.”
Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward told community members during a meeting Monday night that the militiamen have also been harassing federal employees around town in attempts to intimidate them.