The Bundy Brothers’ criminal trespass at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the incredible mess they left had reminded WC of something, but it took a while to recall what.
In the hot, dry summer of 2004, the WCs’ cabin up the West Fork of the Chena River was at high risk of being burned. It wasn’t, but a side effect of those huge wildfires was the massive displacement of wildlife. Including bears. A black bear sow and her cub took refuge in the WCs’ cabin. They entered through the back window, after first removing the plywood shutter. When WC returned, the place looked like this.
The floor was covered in a paste of flour, sunflower seeds for birds, canned soup and Wesson Oil. And, it must be said, bear pee and poop.
The bears were clearly experienced at raiding cabins. The food shelves had been carefully emptied, but the dishes were mostly left alone. Note the two bear cub paw prints on the wall above the wood stove chimney.
The bears had eaten five pounds of flour, five pounds of sugar, three pounds of Bisquick, 32 ounces of Wesson Oil and two pounds of Crisco, along with several cans of soup, a bag of dried beans and two pounds of white rice. Oh, and an assortment of over-the-counter medications, including some Tylenol PM. All that grease had the effect you would expect.
The bears had vacated the premises when WC arrived to discover the mess. WC suspects they were the bears shot later that summer at Chena Hot Springs. But WC suspects they left because they wouldn’t stand the smell.
Cleaning up was a struggle. In the end, WC wound up hauling a generator up the to cabin, putting a sump pump in the West Fork and using a pressure washer to wash out the interior. Furniture was hauled out and washed outside. We found chewed up food packaging as far as half a mile from the cabin. And in bear scat.
WC reports all this because the mess the sow and cub created at the WCs’ cabin is strikingly similar to what the Bundy Brothers and their allies did to the Malheur NWR Headquarters. True, none of the Malheur trespassers bit through cans of soup. At least as far as WC knows. Which makes them somewhat less impressive.
The black bears had the excuse of being wild animals, fleeing a vast wildfire. The Bundys? Just criminal slobs.