Oregon militia says it has accessed government files at wildlife refuge

BURNS, Ore. - The leader of a small, armed group occupying a national wildlife refuge in southeastern Oregon said Monday he and his followers are going through government documents stored inside refuge buildings.

See Full Article

Ammon Bundy told reporters the documents will be used to "expose" how the government has discriminated local ranchers who use federal land for cattle grazing.

Bundy said the documents would also help secure the release of Steven and Dwight Hammond, two area ranchers convicted of arson who returned to prison last week to serve longer sentences. The Hammonds' case set off the occupation of the Burns-area refuge on Jan. 2.

Bundy said his group is not accessing government computers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, including personnel files.

After the news conference, the group drove in a convoy to a ranch near the refuge and tore down a stretch of government-erected fence. The goal, according to the armed men, was to give the rancher access to the range that had been blocked for years. It's not clear where the fence was located or which rancher sought the group's help.

The refuge is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Spokesman Jason Holm said because the documents and files at the refuge may have personally identifiable information, the agency "is taking necessary steps to ensure employee and family safety."

The agency strongly condemned the destruction of the fence and said the action undermines hard-earned conservation impacts achieved in the area.

"Removing fences, damaging any Refuge property, or unauthorized use of equipment would be additional unlawful actions by the illegal occupiers," Fish and Wildlife said in a statement. "Any movement of cattle onto the Refuge or other activities that are not specifically authorized by USFWS constitutes trespassing."

Sixteen full time employees and one part time employee usually work at the refuge, Holm said. Some who can't work away from the refuge have taken administrative leave, while others are working from home or another office.

In Burns, about 48 kilometres from the refuge, schools reopened after being cancelled for a week over safety concerns due to the refuge standoff.

Government offices in the area remained closed, including those of the Bureau of Land Management. BLM spokesman Randy Eardley said about 60 BLM employees were working from home.

"There is a very clear threat to BLM employees," Eardley said, but he did not cite any specific threats.

Ammon Bundy called his group's occupation of the refuge "peaceful" and said the armed men would not leave until the Hammonds are out of prison and abuses against ranchers are exposed. Bundy called the occupation a "moral and righteous stand for the future of this country."

A man representing hunters and anglers, who arrived in Oregon from New Mexico this weekend, condemned the Bundy group at the news conference.

"What I see is a lunatic fringe of extremists who have taken my land over," said New Mexico Wildlife Federation executive director Garrett VeneKlasen. The group represents sportsmen, including hunters and anglers.

Federal, state and local law enforcement officials are monitoring the occupation but have not taken any action.

The county sheriff and many locals have asked that Bundy and his group leave. But Bundy says he is not ready to go.

Ammon Bundy is a son of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher who was at the centre of a tense standoff with federal officials in 2014 over unpaid grazing fees.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Mosul siege extends ISIS fight in Iraq, puts civilians at risk

    World News CTV News
    MOSUL, Iraq -- Iraqi forces are steadily closing in on the remaining pockets of territory held by the Islamic State group in Mosul, inching toward a victory that U.S.-led coalition officials say is "only a matter of time. Source
  • Carter national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski dies

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Zbigniew Brzezinski, who helped topple economic barriers between the Soviet Union, China and the West as President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, died Friday. He was 89. His death was announced on social media Friday night by his daughter, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski. Source
  • Man hurling racial slurs kills 2, injures 1 on Portland train: police

    World News CTV News
    PORTLAND, Ore. -- Two people died Friday and another was hurt in a stabbing on a Portland light-rail train after a man yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim, one of whom was wearing a hijab, police said. Source
  • Firefighters rescue kittens while battling Calgary blaze

    Canada News CTV News
    Calgary firefighters made an unexpected rescue when they were battling a house fire in the city's southwest. On Friday afternoon, a passerby called 911 to report smoking coming from a home. Firefighters arrived and started to fight the blaze when one firefighter came across a kitten just outside the side door. Source
  • Firefighters rescue bobcat kittens while battling Calgary blaze

    Canada News CTV News
    Calgary firefighters made an unexpected rescue when they were battling a house fire in the city's southwest. On Friday afternoon, a passerby called 911 to report smoking coming from a home. Firefighters arrived and started to fight the blaze when one firefighter came across a kitten just outside the side door. Source
  • Sri Lanka confirms 100 dead in mudslides; 99 missing

    World News CTV News
    AGALAWATTE, Sri Lanka -- Sri Lanka's government says the death toll from Friday's floods and mudslides has risen to 100 with 99 others missing, as security forces and residents stepped up search and rescue operations. Source
  • Manitoba Greyhound passenger claims he was wrongly accused of being drunk, booted off bus

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    THOMPSON, Man. — An indigenous Manitoba man with a serious medical condition says he was refused entry to a Greyhound bus and wrongly accused of being intoxicated. Barry Spence says he makes the 10-hour trip from Thompson, Man. Source
  • Man hurling racial slurs at Muslim women kills 2, injures 1 on Oregon train, police say

    World News Toronto Sun
    PORTLAND, Ore. — Two people died Friday and another was hurt in a stabbing on a Portland light-rail train after a man yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim, one of whom was wearing a hijab, police said. Source
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to Jimmy Carter, dies

    World News CBC News
    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security adviser to U.S. President Jimmy Carter, has died. He was 89. His death was announced on social media Friday night by his daughter, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski. She called him "the most inspiring, loving and devoted father any girl could ever have. Source
  • Tory leadership contenders make pitches for votes

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — The last time Conservative party faithful gathered en masse in Toronto it was to hear from former leader and prime minister Stephen Harper. On Friday, they met in the same location, this time to hear from the 13 people vying to replace him. Source