MISSOULA, Mont. - The sportsmen's group Backcountry Hunters & Anglers urged cool, patient heads to prevail in the extremists' occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, valuable public lands fish and wildlife habitat located in Oregon.
"National wildlife refuges like Malheur are a treasure shared by all Americans," stated BHA President and CEO Land Tawney. "The actions being perpetrated by extremists in Oregon are the misguided actions of a fringe element - and should be condemned by sportsmen and all citizens in the strongest terms."
Oregon sportsmen were quick to decry the extremists' actions. "As sportsmen and conservationists, we urge the occupiers to end this fool's errand," said Brian Jennings, BHA's Oregon outreach coordinator, "and we urge the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to keep their employees safe, be patient and thoroughly enforce the law."
The loosely organized group of extremists initiated an occupation of the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, near Burns, Oregon, over the weekend. They are led by out-of-state radicals including Ammon Bundy, son of anti-government extremist Cliven Bundy of Nevada
"The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is a popular hunting area for waterfowl and upland gamebirds," stated Tawney. "It is one unit in a system of millions of acres of public lands on which American families depend for access to and opportunity in the great outdoors.
Tawney concluded: "In 2015, thousands of hunters and anglers gathered at state capitols across the West with a single, unified message: Keep public lands in public hands. This will remain our rallying cry in 2016. BHA remains dedicated to protecting those lands from abuse and keeping them in the hands of their owners, the American people."