One of the best pieces to come out of the occupation at the Malheur wildlife sanctuary is a warning from wildlife photographer Kevin Vang, writing on Daily KOS as Norwegian Chef:
Just a friendly warning from the birding and wildlife photography community to the Oregon terrorists. We are watching your every move, and we have been watching you for a long time. And yes absolutely you are domestic terrorists of the worst kind, and the truth about your decades of constant poaching of protected wildlife around Malheur and other wildlife refuges, national parks, national forests and BLM lands has been well-documented. For years those of us who are wildlife photographers, birdwatchers and carers of wildlife, have been documenting the activities of you poachers and criminals around many of our nation’s wildlife refuges. With our powerful cameras, and ability to move unseen in the wilderness, we have found and documented your illegal hunts, your illegal traps and all sorts of illicit activities, and are constantly feeding that information to law enforcement, and we have finally got many of you poachers on the run and into jails. And I for one am a westerner sick to death of you welfare queens and cheats living off of BLM land, illegally gutting our wilderness and our wildlife. Malheur, Hart Mountain, Klamath Marsh, Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite etc etc, they all belong to us, we the American people, and no small group of armed thugs is going to destroy the great wildlife and national park system that our great Republican President Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir put in place over a century ago. Wildlife photographers and wildlife/bird watchers now number some 40 million people in the USA, and feed many rural western economies with our tourism dollars, and we will not stand for your sedition.
As Oregon’s Congressman Earl Blumenauer just stated, “Armed insurrection is terrorism. The situation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge shouldn’t be allowed to fester but should be dealt with firmly, swiftly and fairly. The continued disruption to the community of Burns and occupation of a federal facility is unacceptable. Those involved should be arrested and prosecuted”
Those of us who are international wildlife and nature photographers regularly face charging elephants, attacking lions and grizzlies, hidden crocodiles, massive storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, the hottest, coldest and windiest conditions, and all kinds of poisonous snakes and bugs in our work, and we know the outdoors and wilderness from desert to jungle to sea to mountain to tundra from pole to equator better than any poacher or criminal or yee-haw yokel ever will, and we are not afraid to protect it. We have a just fear of nature from experience, but we don’t fear you gun-toting thugs in the least. You will never see us, but we and our cameras will always see you. We will #takebackmalheur from you terrorists, and will not rest until every one of you thugs and poachers is behind bars where they belong. You may think that your communities support you, but the majority do not and as many as support you, many more despise you, and your every move is being documented in great detail. The birding networks are ablaze right now about everything going on in Malheur. We know the nearby trailer park, who is supplying you with food, and a tourist boycott of them is already in the works for all birders for this upcoming bird season. We know who everyone is coming in and out, and why, and every shred of information is going straight to law enforcement and across every birding network in America.
And for those of us who are also lawyers (I for example just happen to have a law degree of U of Oregon), whether the Feds prosecute you or not (and we will do all in our power to ensure they do), we will put every civil suit against you and God knows you have given us plenty to work with, so you will know once and for all that your odious actions have real consequences.
We stand now and forever with wildlife, and you seditionists and terrorists are about to find out that’s there is a natural law of karma that vindictive people, who go out and poach innocent animals, will never be able to outrun or hide from.
We are watching you and our years of birding photography have made us endlessly patient and determined.
It was a couple guys like Kevin Vang who were largely responsible for establishment of the refuge in the first place, more than a century ago.
Wildlife photographer and naturalist William L. Finley and his childhood friend and photography partner, Herman T. Bohlman, visited the lake to investigate recovery of egret populations. The “white heron” had been wiped out a dacade earlier by plume hunters. The pair’s hand-colored photos and the backing of the Oregon Audubon Society helped convinced President Theodore Roosevelt to create the Lake Malheur reservation “as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds.”
A flock of Caspian terns takes flight in this hand-colored 1908 photo.
Finley photographs a nest as Bohlman maneuvers their boat through the shallows of Lake Malheur.
Finley estimated that several thousand birds had been killed so their feathers could be used to decorate hats.
Black-capped night heron
Finley/Bohlman photos courtesy Oregon Audubon Society & NPR