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Acquittals Escalate Violence Worries

Acquittals Escalate Violence Worries
November 01
09:25 2016

With the acquittals of seven defendants, including a Kanab woman, of charges associated with the armed takeover of a federal refuge in Oregon, land management officials are expressing concerns about the safety of their employees.

Jeff Ruch with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility said, “It may send a message that militias can take free shots at federal employees without fear of consequences.”

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell added, “I am concerned about potential implications for our employees.”

Others worry that as resources are diverted to security, public lands will be neglected.

Immediately after the verdict, the Refuge Association, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting the Refuge System as the world’s largest network of protected wildlife and habitat, started a petition which calls upon Congress to immediately provide the Refuge System with the number of Federal Wildlife Officers needed to keep staff and visitors safe. The Refuge Association says Congress must ensure that all Americans can freely enjoy public lands without the danger of encountering armed occupiers claiming the authority to restrict public access.

The petition requests that Congress provide an additional $134 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the final Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations bill to provide an adequate number of Federal Wildlife Officers on duty at every one of  the 566 national wildlife refuges.

According to the petition, the funding would allow the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect its staff and refuge visitors.

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