During an early trip to Malheur Lake, William Finley estimated that several thousand birds had been killed so their feathers could be used to decorate hats.  Hand colored slide print by Finley and Bohlman, used here courtesy of the Audubon Society of Portland.

During an early trip to Malheur Lake, William Finley estimated that several thousand birds had been killed so their feathers could be used to decorate hats. Hand colored slide print by Finley and Bohlman, used here courtesy of the Audubon Society of Portland.

Episode Summary:

Our guest on today’s show is Bob Sallinger, the conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland, a group whose history is intertwined with that of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.  I’m guessing that there aren’t too many people left out there who haven’t heard about the armed occupation of Malheur Refuge that’s been going on since January 2nd.  This militant action has hit our guest Bob, and others from the Audubon Society of Portland particularly hard because of their close connection with the refuge.

William Finley with his pet California condor, General.  Finley was an early naturalist and founder of the Audubon Society of Portland.  Hand colored slide print by Finley/Bohlman, used courtesy of the Audubon Society of Portland.

William Finley with his pet California condor, General. Finley was an early naturalist and founder of the Audubon Society of Portland. Hand colored slide print by Finley/Bohlman, used courtesy of the Audubon Society of Portland.

As you’ll hear in today’s interview, it was the founder of the Audubon Society of Portland, William Finley, who convinced Teddy Roosevelt to set aside Malheur as a part of this brand new wildlife refuge system back in 1908.  Bob explains that bird populations in this critically important wetland habitat were being decimated by the plume trade at that time.

image_previewA lot has changed at Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge since then, and there are many new conservation challenges faced in the area.  In recent years Bob has spent lots of time working with a large group of stakeholders (including local ranchers) to develop new management goals for the refuge.  Bob explains that the refuge managers at Malhuer made a controversial decision to involve the local community at every stage of this decision making process.  The result was a consensus decision, with buy-in from the local community, on what the management priorities should be for the refuge.

There is certainly some irony to the fact that this group of right-wing extremist ranchers decided to take their stand at Malheur Refuge.  Perhaps the fact that local ranchers and community members have been working in close collaboration with refuge managers has something to do with the utter lack of local support this militant group has gotten in and around Burns, Oregon.  Either way, it is safe to say that everyone is hoping for a quick and peaceful end to this troubling occupation.

 

Links:

The Audubon Society of Portland

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

 

Some good coverage of the occupation:

These Photos Inspired the Creation of that Occupied Oregon Refuge (from NPR)

Angry Birders: Standoff at Oregon Refuge has Riled a Passionate Group (from NY Times)

Occupied Oregon Refuge Known for Listening to Ranchers (Seattle Times)

 

Listen to the podcast episode here:






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