Backcountry Hunters & Anglers reacted with “profound disappointment” to the acquittal of a group of anti-government extremists, including Ammon and Ryan Bundy, in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in January.
BHA President and CEO Land Tawney issued the following statement:
“On behalf of the American sportsmen who pay for and help maintain our national wildlife refuges, we are profoundly disappointed in the jury’s decision. It shows we have a lot to do to educate the American people about our public lands – and that we must continue to be vigilant in the face of ongoing attempts to seize, transfer or otherwise divest them from their owners, the citizens of the United States.”
“The jury’s decision flies in the face of the basic principle that America’s national wildlife refuges and other public lands belong to all Americans. We, the rightful owners of these lands, can – and should – debate their management. But threatening public servants, hijacking public lands and damaging our shared natural resources serve no beneficial purpose and have no place in a democracy like ours.”
Longtime BHA member Mark Heckert offered this comment:
“These lands are not ‘revenue streams’ or playgrounds for the wealthy; they are treasures bequeathed to all of us by our far-thinking ancestors and a priceless inheritance for our descendants. They speak to us across time – of real value, and the heart-filling wonder of wildness. We must stand, and stand together. These thieves covet our public lands, and if we don’t want them more, they will be stolen from under our feet.”
Heckert, of Puyallup, Washington, was among the first to journey to Malheur to witness the occupation. Video footage of him removing a tarp placed over the refuge sign by the extremists was viewed millions of times.
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