We’ve been hearing a lot about the self-appointed nature trail terrorists currently holed up in Burns, Oregon—mostly because they won’t shut up. But now, the employees at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are finally speaking out about the armed militia cosplayers keeping them from doing their jobs.
Early this morning, the staff of the wildlife refuge posted a message to their Facebook page in which they referred to the Bundy clan as “illegal occupiers” and voiced their gratitude for the community’s support—a community that has almost unanimously agreed that they want the nature trail squatters out as fast as humanly possible:
We believe many in the media (as well as those sympathetic to the illegal occupiers) were surprised to hear that the community—while frustrated with the Hammond situation—did not leap to the support of the militants. We are not surprised.
For over 100 years, our Refuge employees have been members of this community. We study, bowl, worship, commune, (occasionally drink) and interact with our fellow Harney County citizens—not as a ‘we vs. they’—but as an ‘us.’
They also offered a not-so-subtle message to the group, emphasizing that what they’re doing is (to generously paraphrase) infantile and absurd:
We can have effective disagreements and either find resolution, find compromise, or simply agree to disagree. But we do it with respect for the rule of law, and know that our areas of agreement and cooperation are infinitely more powerful than the differences we may face. Mostly, we face those differences together with open dialogue and open gates—not intimidation and threats. We have access to each other, because we are not afraid to confront difficult situations or have difficult conversations.
The staff then goes on to point out exactly what it is that’s being taken away, noting that they’re “missing our obligations to you—as church leaders, as 4-H advisers, as friends, and as school volunteers.”
This is the same sentiment echoed by a recent letter to The Oregonian, which ran a story on the illegal occupation under the headline, “Effort to free federal lands.” The thrust of the letter was that any language implying that the Bundys are somehow victims or champions of freedom misses the point entirely:
Those citizens of Harney County have carefully hammered out agreements to manage the refuge in the best interest of landowners, scientists, visitors, tourists, livestock and wildlife. They’re suffering more every day, economically and otherwise, from this invasion by outsiders.
Because in fact, the only people hurt by this are people who live and work at a place that was hijacked for no logical (much less discernible) reason.