Let ‘em Stay in the Snow in Malheur Refuge in Oregon

Ideas and Issues

ranching-standoffNew Orleans   Eastern Oregon is an interesting part of the West. Tourists think of the northwestern biosphere as wet and woolly, Portland and Seattle, big trees and five-foot tall ferns, but once you get over the Cascades into eastern Washington and Oregon, its high desert, few trees, lots of cows and much like the rest of the west. There’s even a national park in eastern Oregon that bills itself as moonscape!

When last we heard from the Bundy family, and this is the Western outfit, not the serial killer, the patriarch was gathering around a few neighbors, friends, and fellow travelers in a standoff around what he felt was his right to graze cattle on federal lands for free. Eventually, after some cowboy wannabes got their fill of seeing their pictures on television and the numbers fell, they packed up, and moved on. Now, his son and some buddies have taken over a wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon, the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. This is near Frenchglen, Oregon. It turns out that in French, Malheur probably means “bad hour,” which is worth keeping in mind as we unravel this mess.

The refuge website says that the wildlife refuge is closed until further notice. The explanation is straightforward.

Why Is The Refuge Closed?


The Fish and Wildlife Service is aware that an unknown number of armed individuals have broken into and occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge facility near Burns, Oregon. While the situation is ongoing, the main concern is employee safety and we can confirm that no federal staff were in the building at the time of the initial incident. We will continue to monitor the situation for additional developments.

The pictures in the paper have some ol’ boys bundled up in the snow. They’ve draped a couple of American flags over the entrance sign to the refuge. They’re armed of course.

Have you heard about or seen the new movie getting a lot of buzz with Leonardo DeCaprio called “Revenant?” You feel like you might freeze to death just watching that old Western drama loosely based on Hugh Glass, the legendary mountain man. For hours you just watch actors stumble around in the snow. It’s beautiful, but chilling.

In Oregon they are protesting the fact that a couple of local ranchers started a fire which took out about 150 acres of the national forest nearby. Father and son in that situation have already gone to jail and done some time. A judge said they got off too easy and has sent them back to do some more time. They say they are going to report to jail as ordered. The Bundy boy and his buddies see an opportunity to grab some more press on their quixotic stand against the feds and are going for it.

If I were anybody with the federal government, I’d say, let ‘em sit and stew in the snow. Seal ‘em up tighter than a drum, block the roads, and shutdown the supply lines. The real ranchers will have to go back to work to take care of their cattle. Let ‘em out, once their feet get cold, and their stomachs start to churn. Settle this once everyone is bored, and spring thaws them out. This is water off a duck’s back. Let them have some bad hours in Malheur: this is a wildlife refuge not a resort camp. The government can win this with a yawn easier than a roar.