Feds monitor armed group that took over national refuge
BURNS, Ore. — Federal authorities kept their distance and made no immediate attempt Monday to retake a wildlife refuge in the remote high desert of Oregon after armed anti-government protesters seized it as part of a decadeslong fight over public lands in the West. The group came to the frozen high desert of eastern Oregon to contest the prison sentences of two ranchers who set fire to federal land, but their ultimate goal is to turn over the property to local authorities so people can use it free of U.S. oversight. People across the globe have marveled that federal authorities have not moved to take back the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Residents say they have not seen a large presence of officers, and the government’s tactic generally is to monitor the situation from afar but leave them be as long as they don’t show signs of violence. That’s how federal officials defused a high-profile 2014 standoff with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy over grazing rights. Now Bundy’s two sons are leading the push in Oregon.