5 min read

Protesters Stormed A Wildlife Refuge. Here Are The Animals Who Live There.

A small militia occupied a federal building inside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon on Saturday in an act of protest after two ranchers were sentenced to jail for committing arson.

Led by members of the Bundy family, known for their 2014 standoff with the federal government over grazing rights, the group seized the building on Saturday.

While the militia has garnered much media attention for using the headquarters as a getaway from the federal government, the surrounding property, some 190,000 acres, has served as a safe haven for various species of Oregon wildlife for over a century.

Here are a few of the lesser-known species who call the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge their home.

Yellow-bellied marmots

Also known by the name "whistle-pig," the yellow-bellied marmots earned this nickname for the distinct noise they make to warn other marmots of predators.

American white pelicans

The photo above was taken and hand-colored over a century ago. In 1908, the Oregon Audubon Society used this photo to lobby for the land to be designated as the Malheur Lake Reservation.

Decades later, there are still abundant numbers of American white pelicans found on the refuge from year to year, although water levels at Malheur Lake were too low for nesting in 2015.

Golden-mantled ground squirrels

Striped like a chipmunk but the size of a squirrel (adults can be 9 inches to nearly 1 foot long), golden-mantled ground squirrels use their cheeks to store food such as nuts, berries, insects and underground fungi.

American avocets

Using their unusually upward-curved beak to snatch invertebrates from the water, American avocets move around from wetland to wetland to catch the best meals.

Pronghorn antelopes

Capable of running faster than a human at only a few days old, pronghorn antelopes grow even faster with age. As adults, they can run at speeds of up to 53 miles per hour for a half mile.


With a heart rate of over 1,200 beats per minute and wings that flap about 70 times every second, hummingbirds also have extraordinary eyesight, which draws them to the color red.


Known for their prickly defense system, porcupines can be found both on the ground and high up in a tree, like this one above.

Caspian terns

You might not be able to tell from this photo, but caspian terns have a wingspan of 4 feet, which makes them the largest tern on Earth.

Greater sandhill cranes

Above, one of two greater sandhill cranes makes a nest in the spring that feeds Marshall Pond, a future home for the soon-to-come offspring.

For a complete overview of wildlife at the park, check out the Malheur National Wildlife Rescuer's list of Watchable Wildlife. Check out the park's Facebook for visiting hours and updates, as of Saturday, the park remains closed until further notice.

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