A small group of armed activists who have occupied a remote wildlife refuge in Oregon ratcheted things up a notch Monday by destroying fencing surrounding the federal property.
The group, which took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge ten days ago, used pliers and an excavator found on site to tear down barbed-wire fencing that marks the edge of the park.
Ammon Bundy, who has led the revolt, said that the protesters acted at the request of a rancher who wanted to graze his 600 cattle on the federal property, but was prevented from doing so when the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) installed the fence last year.
"This will help them out, being able to run their ranch like they have in the past," he told a press conference covered by local media.
But USFWS spokesman Jason Holm said that "removing fences, damaging any refuge property or unauthorized use of equipment would be additional unlawful actions by the illegal occupiers."
"Any movement of cattle onto the refuge or other activities that are not specifically authorized by USFWS constitutes trespassing," he said in a statement.
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