Idaho Militiamen Join Armed Group At Oregon Wildlife Refuge

Ammon Bundy, one of the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, speaks to reporters during a news conference at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge after meeting with Harney County Sheriff David Ward Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016... Ammon Bundy, one of the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, speaks to reporters during a news conference at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge after meeting with Harney County Sheriff David Ward Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, near Burns, Ore. Ward and two other Oregon sheriffs met Thursday with Bundy, the leader of an armed group occupying a federal wildlife refuge and asked them to leave, after residents made it clear they wanted them to go home. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) MORE LESS
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BURNS, Ore. (AP) — The leader of an armed group occupying a national wildlife refuge to protest federal land management policies said he and his followers are not ready to leave even though the sheriff and many locals say the group has overstayed its welcome.

On Friday, Ammon Bundy, leader of the group that on Jan. 2 seized the headquarters of the refuge in southeastern Oregon, said: “How long will this go on? We say to you, ‘Not a minute too early.’ “

Bundy met Thursday with Harney County Sheriff David Ward, who asked Bundy to heed the will of locals and leave the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Ward also offered to escort Bundy and his group out of the refuge to ensure safe passage.

“We will take that offer,” Bundy said on Friday. “But not yet.”

A few hours later, Ward said via Twitter that because of Bundy’s stance he was calling off plans to have another meeting with him.

“During this morning’s press conference, the people on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge made it clear that they have no intention of honoring the sheriff’s request to leave. Because of that, there are no planned meetings or calls at this time,” Ward said.

But Ward said he is “keeping all options open.”

About the same time, members of another armed group known as the 3% of Idaho began arriving at the bird sanctuary, The Oregonian reported ( ).

“They just keep an eye on everything that is going on to make sure nothing stupid happens,” Bundy told The Oregonian on Friday afternoon outside refuge headquarters.

“If they weren’t here,” Bundy said, referring to the Idaho group, “I’d worry” about a Waco, Texas-style siege by federal officials in the early 1990s.

Spokesmen for the Idaho group said they are there to keep the situation peaceful and reassure the community that it isn’t in danger.

Bundy’s group — calling itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom — comes from as far away as Arizona and Michigan.

Bundy’s protest at the refuge is a continuation of long-running arguments that federal policies for management of public lands in the West are harming ranchers and other locals. Bundy is the son of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher who in 2014 was at the center of a tense standoff with federal officials over grazing rights.

Ammon Bundy has been demanding that federal land in Oregon’s Harney County be turned over to local residents to be managed.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday called the occupation of the wildlife refuge “unlawful” and said it had to end.

“It was instigated by outsiders whose tactics we Oregonians don’t agree with. Those individuals illegally occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge need to decamp immediately and be held accountable,” she said.

Federal, state and local law authorities have been closely monitoring the situation at the refuge but have so far taken no action against Bundy and his followers, apparently to avoid a confrontation. Ward has been the most visible law enforcement authority during the occupation, and his strategy so far has been to try to show Bundy that locals oppose the occupation and want them to leave.

Ward got a lot of support during a packed community meeting Wednesday night.

At that meeting, local residents said they sympathized with the armed group’s complaints about federal land management but disagreed with their tactics and called Bundy and his followers to leave.

Bundy initially came to Burns to rally support for two local ranchers who were sentenced to prison on arson charges. The ranchers — Dwight Hammond and his son Steven Hammond — distanced themselves from Bundy’s group and reported to prison Monday.

The Hammonds were convicted of arson three years ago and served no more than a year. A judge later ruled that the terms fell short of minimum sentences requiring them to serve about four more years.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Notable Replies

  1. WHY are authorities allowing MORE armed radicals to enter the site in support of these law-breakers??

  2. Because these guys are weekend warriors and won’t stay. Give them a few weeks for their pity party and everything ends without bloodshed.

  3. Because the enforcements are heavily infiltrated by the FBI and it will be easier to prosecute these cretins in a year or two. They will also see that the site is not vandalized or burned to the ground.
    The storms brewing from El Nino should take care of the current occupation. 10 feet of snow puts a damper on any party…from the Donner Party on down.

  4. This is good news: the Flypaper Theory finally is successfully put into practice!

  5. “‘They just keep an eye on everything that is going on to make sure nothing stupid happens,’ Bundy told The Oregonian on Friday afternoon outside refuge headquarters.”

    I’d say they are about a week too late for that…

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