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

  • A nasty Hungarian national mood rejects immigrants — and journalists

    World News CBC News
    The Goy Bikers Association of Budapest. Translation: The Non-Jewish Bikers Association of Budapest. We went looking for them as part of a report on the proliferation of extreme-right, xenophobic and anti-Semitic groups in Hungary, clothing themselves as nationalist defenders of the land. Source
  • 'We must kill the black snake': Prophecy and prayer motivate Standing Rock movement

    World News CBC News
    There is an ancient Lakota prophecy about a black snake that would slither across the land, desecrating the sacred sites and poisoning the water before destroying the Earth. For many Indigenous people gathered near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, that snake has a name — the Dakota Access pipeline. Source
  • Cheers! Birthday boy given $288 fine for dangerous Vancouver SkyTrain ride

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Most people are happy to reach another birthday, but at least one reveller who was out celebrating his 20th didn't seem to mind tempting mortality. Just after midnight on Dec. 9, Transit Police were notified of a man who was riding in between cars on a SkyTrain headed eastbound. Source
  • Toronto FC loses MLS Cup to Sounders in penalty kicks

    Canada News CBC News
    Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei came back to haunt his former team as the Sounders defeated Toronto 5-4 in a penalty shootout to win the MLS Cup and end a long, chilly Saturday night. It was 0-0 after regulation, with Frei keeping Seattle in the game with a marvellous save in extra time. Source
  • Rex Tillerson, top contender for secretary of State, is CEO with close ties to Russia

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- President-elect Donald Trump has found an accomplished American executive in Rex Tillerson, but one whose longstanding support for free trade, international law and an expansive U.S. presence in the Middle East largely doesn't fit with what Trump has pitched to supporters. Source
  • Italian President Sergio Mattarella vows quick fix to country's PM crisis

    World News CBC News
    Italian President Sergio Mattarella pledged on Saturday to act quickly to solve a government crisis prompted by Matteo Renzi's resignation as prime minister, with all major parties calling for elections as soon as possible. Before any vote can take place, however, Italy needs a new electoral law. Source
  • Crowded Nigerian church collapses, killing at least 60

    World News Toronto Sun
    LAGOS, Nigeria — The roof of a crowded church collapsed onto worshippers in southern Nigeria on Saturday, killing at least 60 people, witnesses and an official said. The Reigners Bible Church International in Uyo, capital of Akwa Ibom state, was still under construction and workers had been rushing to finish it in time for Saturday’s ceremony to ordain founder Akan Weeks as a bishop, congregants said. Source
  • Tanker rams into vehicles on Kenya road, killing more than 30

    World News Toronto Sun
    NAIROBI, Kenya — A tanker carrying chemical gas slammed into other vehicles and burst into flames on a major road in Kenya, killing more than 30 people and injuring 10, officials said Sunday. The vehicle lost control while going downhill on the road from the capital of Nairobi to Naivasha late Saturday, said Mwachi Pius Mwachi, the deputy director and communications officer for the National Disaster Management Unit. Source
  • 2 explosions outside Istanbul soccer stadium; 29 killed, 166 wounded [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    ISTANBUL — Two explosions struck Saturday night outside a major soccer stadium in Istanbul after fans had gone home, an attack that wounded at least 20 police officers, Turkish authorities said. One of the blasts was thought to be a car bomb and the second appeared to have been caused by a suicide bomber. Source
  • Montreal cabbie, 77, struggles to retire as ride-sharing apps devalue taxi permits

    Canada News CTV News
    Canada’s aging cab drivers fear the rise of ride-hailing apps like Uber will render their pricey government-issued operating permits worthless. Many are counting on selling them at a profit to provide a nest egg for retirement. Source