Few things make me madder than seeing someone disrespect and devalue a park or refuge. After all, this is my land. It is land that belongs to all of us, a part of the public trust. As you might suspect, I am pretty angry these days as I read of a bunch of jumped-up domestic terrorists occupying buildings at one of our national refuges, causing the refuge to have to be closed to visitors as a matter of public safety.
I have never visited the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon but I know it is a very important site along the Pacific Flyway, the route that many thousands - probably millions - of western birds take on their spring and fall migrations. It is a place where the tired birds can stop in safety to rest and find food. And now these yahoos, the Bundy Bunch, the Y'all Qaeda, these domestic terrorists have desecrated that place.
They represent a group of people who poach wildlife, conduct illegal hunts, set illegal traps, and, in some cases, illegally graze their cattle on these lands that belong to all of us. All the while they complain loudly about government overreach and usurpation of Western lands. But they don't waste any time cashing their government checks! In the case of the leader of this current group of criminals, Ammon Bundy, it was a federal stimulus package check for some $530,000.
Of course, we all remember the previous Bundy Bunch action in Nevada in 2014. That one was led by the patriarch, Cliven Bundy, another scofflaw who owes over $1.2 million to us for grazing fees on our land. And now, here we go again.
I realize that law enforcement does not want to go in with guns blazing and make martyrs of these idiots, but one does have to admit that it is a bit ironic that these dozen or so armed white guys who took over some federal property several days ago have not been forceably removed, while a black child with a toy gun is mowed down by police instantly upon their arrival on the scene. Something is definitely wrong with this picture. But it isn't the way that law enforcement officials are handling the Oregon situation.
I read that the authorities have made the decision to cut off power and phone service to the building the armed insurrectionists have occupied and that they are planning to block the roads and, one hopes, keep the 24 hour news channels from going in to interview and lionize these guys, giving them the publicity they seek. My only question is, why didn't they do this sooner?
The spring migrants will soon be winging their way north again. Indeed, some have already started their long trips. Get these trespassers out of their refuge! Give it back to the wildlife for which it is intended.
|We birdwatchers are watching you! (Hat tip to Jen Sorensen and Daily Kos for the cartoon.)|