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The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has come under fire after a group of protesters called themselves the Bundy Family descended into the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon demanding federal agencies hand over their “hunted” land to them.
The confrontation with the Bundy family came on the heels of a series of protests aimed at “hunters and anglers.”
“There are people in that community who are very upset. They do not want that land to be used for the needs of the community,” BLM regional spokesman Justin Burget told CNN affiliate KGW.
The protesters, some carrying rifles, gathered in several cars Wednesday night in northern Oregon, according to eyewitnesses.
The group was eventually met with a stand-off with the Bundy family and the FBI, resulting in a gun battle between the two factions.
Earlier in the day, the BLM released more than 200 grazing permit applications for the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, including for more than 100 acres, but there was no indication that they’re being used for a purpose other than grazing.
“We think the BLM will follow up on our application process. If the BLM decides they need to look at that application, we certainly’re looking forward to it,” David Fry, executive director of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association. “The vast majority of the public are aware of the fact that there are a number of outposts in this country for the management and management of livestock, grazing land, timber land, so there’s a big difference between those two situations.”
On Wednesday, the BLM announced it is issuing permits for the Malheur refuge to cattle and sheep ranchers on a first-come, first-served basis.
Federal officials issued permits to ranchers to graze on the 3,600-square-mile refuge, in addition to the approximately 2,500 grazing permits they issued to ranchers on the refuge a year ago, on a first-come basis.
The Bundy Family arrived at the refuge on Wednesday, according to the Portland Mercury.
They have vowed to stay, though, and they had been gathering at the refuge for weeks now.
During recent protests, a “no go” zone was set up at the refuge.
They’ve come armed with rifles, according to witnesses. Many of the militants are armed with firearms.
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