WLD Katie Fite and Natalie Ertz walked several miles on the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, a national treasure adored by wildlife and bird enthusiasts from all over the country – ignoring the intimidation and fear tactics they faced from the Bundy militia. Below are photos from the wildlife refuge as well as the rally attended by Paiute tribal members and environmentalists near the refuge headquarters protesting the hostile takeover of their ancestral land.
Katie and Natalie along with other attendees from the rally took a stand at the signing ceremony held at Malheur Refuge Headquarters where a rancher from New Mexico renounced his Forest Service and BLM grazing permits and signed on to militia protection of his trespassing cattle on public lands. The militia wants this, and all other federally protected public lands to be turned over to the state and counties, whereby they could refuse visitors who do not reside and pay taxes within the county or state – as protestors were told at the ceremony. If this group of rogue ranchers succeeds, they plan to inundate the wildlife refuge with cattle this spring.
What people may not realize is the extent to which the cattle owners are subsidized. For each cow/calf(any age), they pay $1.69 a month for grazing. The cost of one bale of good hay is between $8 and $10. A cow/calf will eat one 80 bale in 2-3 days. This works out to between $100 and $120 a month per cow/calf. The other issue with fragile sagebrush land is the overgrazing. Grass that is continually eaten down does not row back.