The attention given to the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by so-called militia has deteriorated to a mixture of anti-government rhetoric and comedy about the foolishness of the occupiers.
What has been forgotten is that this is a vital National Wildlife Refuge established to save birds and other wildlife. It is one of the jewels of the National Wildlife Refuge system and important both for birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway and for birds breeding in the wetlands habitat there. More than 320 species of birds have been recorded there.
More than a century ago, President Teddy Roosevelt established the Malheur refuge with the backing of Portland Audubon. At the time, herons and egrets at Malheur were slaughtered to obtain feathers used in fashionable women’s hats. Audubon Societies developed to save birds and the habitat where they lived.
Tahoma Audubon, covering Pierce County, has joined with Portland Audubon in support of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and its use to protect birds and habitat for the public - all of us.
We cherish the nearby Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, and hundreds of visitors walk there daily. Malheur may be more isolated, but is even more important for preserving wildlife.
(Wang is president of Tahoma Audubon Society.)