The armed militia men who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, were filmed on Jan. 11 tearing down a government fence (video below).
"They did not have authority to build this fence in the first place," Ammon Bundy, who leads the militia, told KOIN 6. "And so we are removing it."
“We’re planning on going down to the ranch adjacent here to the Malheur Refuge where they’ve cut off the largest portion of their range," Bundy announced on Jan. 10 in a video, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. "We’re going to go take that fence down and get those ranchers back to ranching on their range."
Bundy and his militia brought in a construction vehicle, owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), to help pull the fence down.
In response, Jason Holm, of the USFWS, wrote in a statement: “Any movement of cattle onto the Refuge or other activities that are not specifically authorized by USFWS constitutes trespassing."
“If they take down the fences, it hurts the Refuge, but it also destroys the positive conservation impacts reaped from decades of direct collaboration and sweat equity paid by the Harney County (and surrounding) communities, ranchers, landowners, partners and friends," Holm added.
Bundy has said the militia will not end their armed occupation until the refuge is returned to local control, and Dwight and Steven Hammond, a father and son, are released from jail by the government. The Hammonds, who are ranchers, are serving a sentence for arson that damaged government land.