Once again, Oregon is in the news for crazy behavior.
I’m not a rancher, a Paiute, a birder, a cop, or a zealot, but this thing has kept me awake at night. I want my wildlife refuge back.
I am also not a vegetarian, but even I can recognize that using land for growing food-cows isn’t all that good for the environment. A bird sanctuary, however, is. I admit our government does fail us on some occasions, but one of the things they have got right is the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Why can’t these “militia men” take over something already ruined by greed?
“The Malheur refuge has long been recognized as one of the premier birding sites in the West. The wildlife refuge was created in 1908 by Teddy Roosevelt to ensure native heron weren’t extirpated for their feathers, a fashionable item of the era. Today, the 187,757-acre refuge is home to over 320 bird species, plus a few dozen mammals, too.”
And that brings me to the third rant that keeps me from sleep, the fact that these hoodlums call themselves a militia. According to the dictionary, a militia is “a military force raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency”. These American extremists have nothing to do with the U.S. Armed Forces. I grant that they fit the rest of Webster’s supplemental definition, in that they are “a… force that engages in rebel or terrorist activities, typically in opposition to a regular army.” I know it’s too late to change their press-given tag, but I, for one, will not call them a militia. Not my army! Not defending me!
This isn’t Oregon’s first time in the spotlight for blatant strangeness though it usually comes out in gentler ways such as our unicycling bagpiper or our yummy . But some may remember the Rajneeshees (1984) and Tonya Harding (1994). Maybe it’s something about the fresh air or the large square shape of the state. Maybe it’s the Vortex. Whatever it is, I’m not trading cow pies for a wildlife sanctuary. Not in my state.
*For those who haven’t been followed this farce in the news and more humorously, on Facebook, last weekend, armed men took over several buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a remote, marshy oasis in Oregon’s high desert famed for its spectacular migratory bird populations. The standoff protests policies governing the use of federal land in the west and is a continuation of a long-running feud between ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management over federal policies covering the uses of public lands, including grazing.