Ammon Bundy and his band of militiamen said they destroyed a fence at the site of their anti-government standoff earlier this week to help out a nearby rancher, but that rancher said Wednesday that he did not give them permission and does not support their mission.
Tim Puckett, a rancher whose land runs adjacent to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, told The Oregonian Wednesday he’s never spoken to Bundy, and his ranch hands have already fixed the fence.
“I am very upset,” Puckett told the paper. “They didn’t have my permission to do anything.”
Bundy claimed Monday he had permission from the rancher’s family to destroy the fence, which would allow their cattle to graze on public land, and said he even consulted them on where it should go. Bundy and his supporters are protesting the federal government’s meddling with public grazing lands, which they say should be returned to local residents.
But Puckett said he “didn’t know anything about it” until late Monday night, after the militiamen had already removed 20 to 30 yards of federal fence using the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s own equipment, according to The Oregonian. The fence was built last year using a $100,000 grant.
The militia destroying the fence also marked a ratcheting up of the occupation, which has remained peaceful since it began on Jan. 2.