BURNS, Ore. (KOIN) — For the first time since the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge ended on February 11, the media was allowed into the area to see the remnants of the occupiers.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided a tour for media and released photos of the way the occupiers left the refuge.
“It’s a little unsettling… when we come in every day we’re trying to take care of the land and build it up for wildlife,” wildlife biologist Linda Beck told KOIN 6 News. “I mean, you saw pictures of how much trash was here.”
The final cost of the cleanup is not fully known, even by officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. However, officials said the cost to taxpayers so far has been about $6.5 million.
Part of the cleanup process will involve the remediation of delicate, ancient archaeological items. Some were very damaged, officials said.
Safes were broken into at the refuge. Money, cameras and computers are missing and officials said that is just the beginning of the inventory.
Members of the media on tour were advised to watch their step in certain spots. After some pipes burst, officials said, militia members defecated “everywhere.”
Some of the very ranchers the occupiers claimed to represent said they didn’t want any of this.
“As far as I’m concerned it was a slap in our face for all the years that we’ve put in working, together,” rancher Andy Dunbar said.