Posted by: atowhee | January 17, 2016


Is there a worthwhile outlet for the anger and frustration of birders who want to see the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge returned to federal management?  Will it take 2000 unarmed birders blocking the roads in and out?  Will it take the first shot fired from some armed occupier or person opposing the occupation?  What will it take to get the road-builders and fence cutters and armed radicals out of the public land so the birds and birders can get back to life as usual?  It is already too late for the Great Horned Owls who most years use the headquarters watch tower as their nest site.

I understand the Harney County Sheriff is asking all responsible organizations to stay way.  He doesn’t want to have to deal with any confrontation between occupiers and the rest of the world that sees this land grab for what it wants to be.  Get the federal government out of their so cattle ranchers, loggers, miners and hunters can have the same free reign they had before Teddy Roosevelt created the wildlife refuge system.

This morning I spoke with a good friend who is a naturalized American citizen.  He’s lived here for decades now and he’s heart-broken.  He grew up in a nation as wealthy as the U.S.  I did not come here for money or a good job, he explains.  I came here for the open space and the great national parks and refuges.  He foresees that this
“wise use” movement would end up giving corporations and wealthy landowners control of millions of acres.  That would not be good for the cranes, the owls, the raptors, the shorebirds, the beautiful Black Terns.

Where, my friend appropriately asks, are the conservation groups so eager to ask for my money…now when we need them?  Sierra Club?  National Wildlife Federation which seems to only ask for money?  American Birding Association?  National Audubon Society?  Petitions and patience are not likely to move the occupiers who are seeing success.  As their occupation continues, they get ever more status among the armed militia groups across the country.  That is “their base” as the punditocracy loves to say.  It is only a matter of time until some Republican President candidate grand-stands at the refuge, proclaiming victory for himself and the wise use proponents.  “I will make sure this land goes back to the private owners from which the government took it.”   And you can be sure this will not be back to the Paiutes, it will be auctioned off to private ranchers and hunt clubs focused on shooting sage grouse, wild horses and pronghorn.  Throw in an occasional coyote for the sport of it all.

A few counter-protestors get shouted down.

Here’s another version of that confrontation.

The gunmen are angry over the government watching them.

Description of the “wise use” movement to get away from federal land ownership and regulation.  Drill, baby, drill…that could be the movement motto.

Estimate of the what the fine should be for the trespassing occupiers.

“Keep your government hands off my Medicare.” The war cry of the ignorant white male. Militia leader took out big federal loan. Has he paid any of it back?



  1. You are right on the money… Wh ere are these big organizations when we need them? I just called the Sierra Club to find out what they have done only to get the message that they are closed for the holiday. I will try tomorrow.

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