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Oregon Arrests Prompt Reaction from NC Sportsmen

Protesters in Oregon who took over federally owned buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon to demand local control of public lands were arrested in a traffic stop on Tuesday. (U.S. Geological Survey/Wikimedia Commons)
Protesters in Oregon who took over federally owned buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon to demand local control of public lands were arrested in a traffic stop on Tuesday. (U.S. Geological Survey/Wikimedia Commons)
January 27, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. - One person is dead and the leader of the group occupying federal property in Oregon, Ammon Bundy, is under arrest, along with several fellow protesters.

The FBI and local law enforcement agencies stopped the group Tuesday outside of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Sportsmen and women in North Carolina and the rest of the country have opposed the takeover of the refuge.

Richard Mode, affiliate representative with the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, says because the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge belongs to taxpayers it is a personal issue for every American.

"Those public lands are our lands," says Mode. "They never were the state of Oregon's, they've always been federal lands. Every citizen in America owns those lands and they're very important to us."

Bundy and others are facing federal felony charges of conspiracy to impede officers of the U.S. through the use of force from discharging their official duties.

The protesters were demanding the federal government release ranchers convicted of arson on federal lands, turn federal lands over to private ownership, void federal grazing permits and allow the local management of the lands in question.

The NWF and other supporters who opposed the takeover of the refuge say local control of the lands puts public access to areas to hunt, fish, camp, hike and other activities in jeopardy. The occupiers have complained about federal management of the lands, but Mode says placing lands in local control would endanger a public resource.

“The government is us," he says. "We're the owners of that property as citizens of America. We use it. It's an important part of our outdoor heritage, our wildlife and natural resources heritage, and we want it stopped.”

Mode says the issue of public lands is also an economic issue. The Outdoor Industry Association estimates public lands generate $646 billion annually in consumer spending and support more than 6 million jobs.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC