Press Room

Audubon CEO: Public Lands Don't Belong To Those Who Hold Them At Gunpoint

Oregon standoff acquittal puts people, birds and other wildlife in danger.

NEW YORK—Officials with the National Audubon Society expressed disappointment this evening with the not-guilty verdicts handed down by a federal jury in Oregon for seven defendants, who led the 41-day armed standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge earlier this year. The defendants had been accused of conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs through intimidation, threat or force.

"Wild lands belong to all of us, not the people who hold them at gunpoint," said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold (@david_yarnold). "This outrageous verdict undermines the rule of law and puts people, birds and other wildlife in danger."

Although the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge became a focal point for anti-government rhetoric during the siege, it has a storied history of bird and wildlife protection dating back decades. Audubon was involved in its founding, helping highlight its importance to more than 300 species of Pacific Flyway birds.

"Some places are so special—because of their value, because of their beauty, because of their history, because of the wildlife they sustain—that they truly belong to all of us," said Yarnold. "Birds depend on public lands. Public lands are nurseries and wintering grounds and staging sites during migration for millions of birds that wouldn't survive without them."

Yarnold added that the takeover of Malheur sent the wrong signal about the importance of public lands not just to wildlife, but to the American people who share them.

The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

###

Contact: Nicolas Gonzalez, ngonzalez@audubon.org, 212-979-3068.

“The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”