The federal government’s policies in the West are abominable, but so are the Bundys. My column today:
The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge hasn’t heretofore been known as a locus of government tyranny, or much of anything else.
Saying that the refuge, established in 1908 by Theodore Roosevelt, is in the middle of nowhere makes it sound too centrally located. It is in southeastern Oregon, about 30 miles from the nearest town of Burns, population 2,722.
Now the Bundy family — notorious for its standoff with the feds at the family’s Nevada ranch last year — and sundry anti-government protesters have occupied the refuge and pronounced it the staging ground for an offensive against an oppressive federal government.
Before the Bundys showed up, the most notable events at Malheur were sightings of buffleheads, long-billed curlews, bobolinks, and black-necked stilts. Ammon Bundy has vowed to stay in the wildlife preserve “for years” (let’s hope for his sake he has Netflix and a really good data plan). If the protesters hold out until April, they will disrupt the annual Harney County Migratory Bird Festival — and strike a mighty blow against the region’s birders.