Western Watersheds Project statement on “not guilty” verdict in Bundy Trial

LARAMIE, Wyo. – In response to the “not guilty” verdict in the trial of the seven militants charged with federal conspiracy and weapons charges associated with the month-long takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Western Watersheds Project releases the following statement from Executive Director Erik Molvar:

“Today’s verdict is a disappointment, and the failure to hold extremist militants accountable for their armed takeover of public property amplifies the risk to federal, state, and local officials who are charged with the management of public property throughout the West.

Nonetheless, members of the Bundy family still face the more serious charges associated with the 2014 armed standoff in Bunkerville, Nevada over the removal of trespassing cattle that were degrading the health of the land and threatening the survival of rare native wildlife. The Bundys will not go free until they answer for these actions.

The sad result of this verdict is that it will now be necessary to increase the presence and patrols of law enforcement throughout our public lands in order to assure the safety of rangers, scientists, and land managers who are required travel to remote corners of the West in order to do their jobs.”







  1. Duane Short Avatar
    Duane Short

    Nothing destroys the character of our wildlands like the inapropos presence of law enforcement officers (LEOs).

    Why should hikers, birders, photographers, hunters, anglers and such be penalized with increased sights and sounds of LEOs as they try to enjoy the outdoors, precisely, in many cases, to get away from such distasteful urban scences? What have they, these outdoor enthusiasts, done wrong?

    Punish these white privileged, welfare thugs.

    Their aquittal is vile beyond words.

    1. Larry Keeney Avatar
      Larry Keeney

      I suggest that the most important thing we can do with regard to your concerns of the presence of LEOs is welcome their presence with mature adult demeanor. They have enough contact during their patrols, data gathering and management of our public lands, with the miscreant Bundy types. Believe me it is refreshing to make a contact in a remote corner of our wildlands and actually find someone with respect and admiration for land health and wilderness. We don’t need fewer LEOs we need more. They are dedicated, educated and well trained not only in law enforcement but also in science as it pertains to our lands. These well suited, underpaid and fearless protectors of all that we hike, hunt, angle for and admire in nature are known by various titles from game warden to ranger, state and federal. Here’s hoping more good people will tip their hats to them and make their jobs a little more rewarding.

      1. rork Avatar

        Amen. I appreciate occasional officer presence – the presence alone helps. I’ve never seen a place where there’s too much.

    2. Cody Coyote Avatar
      Cody Coyote

      I am much less concerned about the presence of more law enforcement officers on public lands than I am about the absence of truly competent government prosecutorial lawyers in courtrooms…

  2. Real Nice Guy Avatar
    Real Nice Guy

    I am not sure how a jury could acquit given the basic facts, including video showing the accused armed and occupying the facility. I can’t help but think (or fear) that if people of color occupied a closed storefront (or even an abandoned one) in a city, they would have been convicted in 20 minutes assuming they weren’t shot dead during the arrest.

  3. Jerry Black Avatar
    Jerry Black

    This could get even uglier. Standby for a lawsuit against the government for the killing of Finnicum.

  4. timz Avatar

    tough case against the feds, they didn’t shoot him.
    They will have to sue Oregon I would guess.

    1. Larry Keeney Avatar
      Larry Keeney

      You are right of course Timz but the likes of the Bundy gang never let the facts get in the way.

  5. Phil Maker Avatar
    Phil Maker

    I cannot understand how this jury failed to arrive at a guilty verdict. An armed take-over of federal land/buildings certainly must be on the books in some jurisdiction as illegal, as well as the intimidation/obstruction of government employees. Either the U.S. attorneys presented a very poor case, the judge gave the jury improper instructions, or the jury was biased. Absolutely mind-boggling!

    I seriously doubt that there will be any additional law enforcement out in the woods as a result of this decision. U.S. national parks/forests are severely under-funded/staffed due to Congressional inaction, and that is not about to change.

  6. Rich Avatar

    As I recall the thugs did a fair amount of damage to the buildings and contents as well as the land. I presume this means they will not even be required to pay for the damage. Unbelievable!

  7. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    They should at least be made to pay for their damages. Maybe that will come when the State of OR steps in, but the Feds ought to have done more. I hope this kind of leniency won’t embolden others. This is what I thought too, and I didn’t even dare say it:


  8. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    It’s the craziest election cycle ever. I wonder if the gov’t wants to keep things low-key until after the election?

  9. Gary Humbard Avatar
    Gary Humbard

    Talking with my neighbor who was a prison guard in a high security institution, this “occupation” was botched from the start. The first thing that should have happened was for the group to be “contained” to the refuge and not allowed to come and go, no less than in government vehicles.

    They were tried on conspiracy against allowing federal employees from doing their job, a tough case when you allow people to come and go as they wish. There were keys left in at least one government vehicle so the occupiers figured it was available for use. The FBI was not asked to do intensive investigations into the groups actions as well. It sounds like numerous screw ups including poor documentation, non-containment, lack of investigation and within 24 hours after one juror was excused (former BLM employee who was supposedly biased against the occupiers) a verdict was decided.

    How much Waco and the OKC bombing played into the lack of law enforcement actions is hard to say. To put things in perspective; one occupier died, some damage occurred to government property, work was not performed for ~40 days on the refuge and we don’t know if this will embolden more actions. We can all hope, governments in general will learn a lesson and not repeat mistakes made. The Bundys are still in jail for Bunkerville so we will see what happens there. I’m more hopeful for a guilty verdict and stiff penalties!

    1. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue

      I know, Momday morning quarterbacking, but as the occupation was going on, so many of us thought, why was the power not shut off to the facility? Also, following an ultimatum to leave the facility, it should have been completely blockaded. No one in or out, unless those leaving were giving up.

  10. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    Before we get tood eep in it,r emember a couple things. First , there were several Bundyistas who pled guilty and will be sentenced at some point down the road , sans trial. Second, there are more trials pending.

    Do keep in mind that the government prosecutors chose to go after a conviction on Conspiracy charges. Any good criminal trial lawyer will tell you conspiracy is very difficult to prosecute.

    I have to wonder aloud about the competency of the US Attorneys prosecuting this case.

    1. timz Avatar

      Cody you are right. In talking with someone very familiar with the case they said the were incorrectly charged.

  11. Nancy Avatar

    Breaking it down:


    Some nice thoughts (many of us share) re: public lands 🙂


  12. Real Nice Guy Avatar
    Real Nice Guy

    In the mean time, armed law enforcement has no problem raiding and arresting Native American protestors trying to protect their land from pipeline development.

  13. monty Avatar

    The Eugene Register Guard wrote, inpart, the following:”it became evident that the verdicts were the products of prosecutorial over-reach. Ammon Bundy and 6 others were charged with conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs. Prosecutors should hace contented themselves with proving that the Bundys and their band appropriated and damaged public property.” Seven additional defendents await trial in Portland and 11 have already pleaded guilty.


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Ralph Maughan