On Tuesday, Feb. 23, FBI personnel completed the evidence collection process at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, turning control of the facility over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to an FBI press release.
Please note that the refuge is not yet open to the media or to the public, and it will not be open until the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determine that it is appropriate to do so.
When the 41-day occupation of the refuge ended peacefully on Feb. 11, the FBI immediately secured the refuge’s buildings and property. Over the next two weeks, FBI-led teams:
• Conducted a tactical clearing of the refuge to ensure there were no remaining occupiers
• Performed bomb sweeps to identify and mitigate any explosive-related hazards
• Utilized Evidence Response Teams from multiple FBI field offices to document and collect evidence related to potential crimes committed during the occupation
• Deployed forensic examiners from the Northwest Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory (NWRCFL) to recover and process computers and electronic devices
• Deployed agents with the FBI Art Crime Team to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Burns Paiute Tribe to identify and document any potential damage to the tribe’s artifacts and sacred lands
“We know the impacts from the armed occupation of the refuge will live on in this community for some time. Today, though, we are able to bring some sense of closure to this chapter of the story,” said Greg Bretzing, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. “I have come to know the people of Harney County quite well over the past few months. I have experienced the love that you have for your home — the people, the land and the way of life that makes Harney County special. On behalf of the men and women of the FBI, I want to thank you for sharing your community with us and your patience as we have done the work that we needed to do.”
Although the immediate evidence collection process is complete, it will likely take a number of months before the various forensic exams are complete.