Court docs: Weapons, 'significant amounts' of feces found after militia leaves refuge

A stream meanders through a portion of the Malheur National Wildlife refuge outside of Burns, Ore., that is closed to the public Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. The headquarters buildings at the refuge, near the trees in the distance, were taken over by armed protesters for 41 days. The FBI allowed a group of reporters to move nearer to the refuge Friday morning as part of a guided tour. The group was not allowed to enter the refuge, which is now considered a crime scene.(AP Photo/Rebecca Boone)

The militia occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge built roads and trenches on or near sensitive grounds, and left firearms, explosives, and "significant amounts of human feces" around an outdoor camping area, according to court documents.

Assistant U.S. attorneys Ethan Knight and Geoffrey Barrow filed the "government's response to defendants' motion for site access" with federal court on Tuesday. Defense attorneys for the group of people facing federal conspiracy charges for their roles in the occupation of the wildlife refuge had asked for access to the refuge for discovery evidence purposes.

The document says tactical teams secured the refuge after the 41-day standoff ended on Feb. 11.

The document also gives a glimpse into what the government is alleging the occupiers left behind when the standoff ended.

It reads, "Tactical teams responsible for initially securing the refuge reported significant amounts of human feces in and around an outdoor camping area."

"The outdoor camping area is adjacent to or on a particularly sensitive cultural site that may require extensive processing," Knight and Barrow wrote. "At least one of those trenches contains human feces."

Investigators said "firearms and explosives have been found on the site" and they are "concerned that vehicles and buildings may be booby trapped."

There are still 24 buildings for the FBI to process, according to the document, and investigators found large stores of food that is spoiling in the living quarters.

With the sensitivity of the artifacts, the FBI's Art Crimes Team is helping federal agents process the refuge for evidence. Officials expect the project will take around three weeks to complete.

The Burns Paiute Tribe has concerns on whether there will be a lasting impact to the refuge, which holds sacred lands to the tribe and over 4,000 archaeological artifacts and maps stored in the buildings. KATU News left several messages for tribal council members on Wednesday, but haven't been able to reach anyone.

Bob Sallinger, the conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland, isn't happy about what the government says it has found so far during the investigation at the refuge.

"Disgusting. Very upsetting. I think it shows these people for who they really are. Some people have suggested that this is a political statement. It's not a political statement. It was a criminal activity that they undertook out there for 41 days," Sallinger said.

He has spent a fair amount of time at the refuge doing work for the Audubon Society of Portland. He says there is no reason for human feces to be left at the refuge.

"There are restrooms. There are public restrooms as well as restrooms in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service buildings," Sallinger said.

The government also says it will allow defense counsel to access the wildlife refuge after evidence has been collected, but before it's re-opened to the public. The government also says it will make all evidence seized during the investigation available at the FBI field office in Portland. Defense counsel must follow FBI rules for access to the refuge and viewing of the evidence, according to the document.

Bundy's attorneys, Lissa Casey and Mike Arnold, have filed a response to the government's response. They want a judge to rule on the defendants' motion for access to the refuge by the end of the week. They are also requesting that court require the FBI to stop collecting evidence until an investigator and a videographer can be at the refuge to observe the FBI as it continues processing the site.

Ammon Bundy sent an audio response to a KATU News inquiry on Wednesday about his thoughts on the government's claims regarding the artifacts. Listen to it in its entirety:

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off