An Occupation In Eastern Oregon

Militants May Have Dug Latrines Near Tribal Sites

By Ryan Haas (OPB)
Feb. 17, 2016 12:17 a.m.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed that this road within the refuge complex is new construction.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed that this road within the refuge complex is new construction.

Amanda Peacher / OPB

Militants who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon may have not only been desecrating sites that are sacred to the Burns Paiute tribe, but defecating on them as well, according to court documents filed Tuesday.


Defense attorneys for Ammon Bundy and other militants who have been arrested in connection with the occupation have requested access to the refuge as part of the pretrial process to gather evidence.

Related: Tribe Asks Federal Authorities To Protect Refuge Artifacts

In responding to the request Tuesday, federal prosecutors said they'd allow the defense in after the FBI had processed the crime scene. They also revealed new details about the state of the refuge.


"Tactical teams responsible for initially securing the refuge reported significant amounts of human feces in and around an outdoor camping area," U.S. Attorney Billy Williams wrote in a response to the request.

Williams noted that the camping area, which housed the remaining four militants for nearly two weeks before they surrendered Feb. 11, is "adjacent to or on a particularly sensitive cultural site."

"Occupiers appear to have excavated two large trenches and an improvised road on or adjacent to grounds containing sensitive artifacts," Williams wrote. "At least one of these trenches contain human feces."

Prosecutors also said some of the buildings in the refuge had large food stores that are rotting and need to be cleaned up.

Williams noted that the FBI found a number of firearms and explosives on site, and that the "FBI is concerned that vehicles and buildings may be booby trapped."

Related: Northwest Volunteers Want To Help Restore Malheur Refuge

In response to Williams' statements, Eugene attorney Mike Arnold, who is representing Ammon Bundy, said the defense would like immediate access to the refuge for an investigator and videographer to observe how the FBI is processing the scene.

"Given that there were co-defendants in this case that were at the scene long after Mr. Bundy was arrested," Arnold wrote, "Mr. Bundy needs to have someone out at the scene as it is processed to protect himself from acts being attributed to him that others may have committed."