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Rural Oregon standoff nearing an end, armed activists indicate

AFP-JIJI

The leader of a small group of armed activists who have occupied a remote wildlife refuge in Oregon hinted on Wednesday that the standoff may be nearing its end.

Speaking to reporters outside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Ammon Bundy said he was aware the occupation that was in its fifth day must end but he added it was too soon to call it quits, Fox news reported.

“There is a time to go home and we recognize that,” Bundy was quoted as saying. “We don’t feel like it’s that time yet.”

The group occupied the refuge on Saturday in protest at the jailing of two local ranchers convicted of arson, and is calling for the government to turn over federal land in the area to the people.

Bundy said on Tuesday that once the group’s mission was accomplished, they would leave.

However, it was unclear how he planned to go about stripping the federal government of ownership and much of the local population — including the two ranchers whose case prompted the takeover — has distanced itself from the group.

“It is frustrating when I hear the demand that we return the land to the people, because it is in the people’s hand — the people own it,” Randy Eardley, a Bureau of Land Management spokesman, told CBS.

“Everybody in the United States owns that land,” he added. “We manage it the best we can for its owners, the people, and whether it’s for recreating, for grazing, for energy and mineral development.”

The Audubon Society of Portland, a wildlife conservation group, has also denounced the occupation, saying it puts one of the country’s “most important wildlife refuges at risk.”

“The occupiers have used the flimsiest of pretexts to justify their actions,” said Audubon’s conservation director, Bob Sallinger, in a statement.

On Wednesday, members of an Oregon Indian tribe also took issue with Bundy and his group, saying they were occupying ancestral property and “desecrating one of our sacred sites.”

“The protesters have no right to this land,” said Charlotte Rodrique, a leader for the Burns Paiute tribe.

Meanwhile the local sheriff has organized a town meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss the standoff with the local community.

Harney County Sheriff David Ward, who has urged Bundy and his followers to pack up and leave, said the standoff was having an economic impact on the region, where schools have been shut for safety concerns.

“If this goes any longer it will have an even greater impact to our tourism and economy,” he said in a statement.

“They have promised to leave if our community wants them to,” he added. “We want to see them go home to their families and consider how their actions affect this community.”

  • James Humberg

    Because I am all about the law, human rights, etc, I’ve been following the
    Burns, Ore., Wildlife Sanctuary occupation, and having lived in rural Oregon at one time, I was basically siding with the elderly father and his son who were sentenced to a hard time prison just because they field burned their own land.
    There were some other issues also which made me sympatric to their plight.
    Until yesterday when I did deep research and found out, that Dyane Hammond is still dealing with child abuse charges (his grandson, and the
    testimony is online.) Not sexual but physical to the point that no decent’
    parent or relative would the things to the boy that Hammond Sr did.
    Also, we are mainstream Mormons.(LDS) A lot of people are Mormon—
    Tom Hanks, Gladys Knight ( The “pips” singing group,), Christine Agulara,,
    Steve Young, Danny Ang. Ok, so I thought everything was ok, UNTIL Ammond Bundy , the co-supervisor of the whole project, starts waving the
    “Book of Mormon,” around like a big fan; saying Heavenly Father has sent
    him on a mission, sent to seize all of the Federal Lands in the United States
    and start a whole new world, like Capt Moroni in those scriptures. I had NO
    idea that this kook ball was doing that .
    Of course, the Church has already
    made a formal statement about it, available online in the usual LDS channels. They have disassociated themselves from the Bundys and the
    Hammonds and have distanced the LDS Church from any of their statements or alleged proclamations, visions, directives from G*D, etc. The
    Church leaders remind it’s members that any visions, directives from angels, missions found in books, need to be established by TWO unrelated
    Church witnesses. The world wide web is going nuts over this stuff, and
    of course, more freaky Mormon urban legends are being born every day.
    NOT MY THING. In fact I would guess that the Bundys, Hammonds, et al, who floated this stuff, are going to have a Church court called on them and THEN EXCOMMUNICATION.! Some people already think of us as “pagan,” “anti-Christ,” ” brain washed,” “psychotic,” with absolutely NO
    evidence to back that up, So, I humbly stand corrected . I was wrong Burns
    Wildlife Occupation is wrong, and that it’s leaders are law breakers who
    need to be arrested and incarcerated…..
    Catherine Humberg