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COURTESY PHOTO - Ammon Bundy of Nevada told a group in Burns that armed militias planned to stay in the area for several years.More than 100 people, including three sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, were reportedly occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters Saturday after a peaceful protest in Burns.

The building’s occupation came after western militia members came to Harney County to support cattle ranchers 73-year-old Dwight L. Hammond and his 46-year-old son, Steven D. Hammond. The Hammonds were sentenced Oct. 7 to five years in prison for illegally setting fires on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property near Diamond, Ore.

The Hammonds issued a statement through their attorney saying they planned to report to federal officials on Monday, Jan. 4, to serve their sentences. They have said their family is not part of the armed patriot militia action in Harney County.

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge posted a message on its Facebook page saying the building was closed until further notice. The building is about 30 miles south of Burns in Eastern Oregon.

Ammon Bundy, Cliven Bundy’s son, said in a video posted on Facebook that militiamen from across the nation were being asked to come to Harney County and “live” in the refuge headquarters building. “We’re planning on staying here for several years,” Bundy said.

In a Jan. 1 statement, Cliven Bundy, who was involved in an armed standoff with federal authorities near his Bunkerville, Nevada, ranch because of a 20-year legal dispute, said the U.S. government had no authority in Harney County. He urged the Hammonds to turn themselves in to the Harney County sheriff and seek “protective custody.”

COURTESY PHOTO - Malheur National Wildlfe Refuge headquarters was occupied Saturday, Jan. 2, by more than 100 militiamen who were protesting federal prison sentences for two Harney County ranchers.

The Pamplin Media Group/EO Media Group Capital Bureau contributed to this report.

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