An Oregon judge says he will bill Ammon Bundy up to $70,000 a day to reimburse Harney County for security costs related to the ongoing occupation of a wildlife refuge.
Local schools reopened Monday for the first time since Bundy and other militants seized a visitors center Jan. 2 at the Malheur National Wildlife Preserve and demanded the transfer of federally owned land to the county, reported KTVZ-TV.
Bundy and other militants used a backhoe owned by the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife to remove fences separating federal land from property owned by a local rancher.
Bundy said the militants had rifled through files at the occupied building looking for evidence of wrongdoing, but he insisted they had not accessed computers — although public radio reporters witnessed them doing that.
WATCH: Teen chokes up at town meeting asking Bundy to leave, says ‘I shouldn’t have to be scared in my own hometown’
Some of the Fish and Wildlife employees have been relocated from their homes “out of an abundance of caution” in case their personal information, including home addresses, had been accessed by the militants.
They have also changed a sign outside the wildlife refuge to identify the occupied building as the “Harney County Resource Center,” although it’s not clear how the notoriously cash-strapped militants paid for the new sign.
Sheriff David Ward, who has said he agrees with the militants’ views but not their tactics, has set up concrete barriers and other security measures around his office and the courthouse after the militants or their supporters threatened him and other county officials.
Ward issued a statement Monday vowing that he and other law enforcement officials “will not be intimidated,” and he repeated his call for the out-of-state militants to leave the area.
“There’s an hourglass, and it’s running out,” Ward said as cheers erupted at a public meeting Monday night. “Go home.”
Harney County Judge Steve Grasty also spoke at the meeting, where he said the occupation had cost taxpayers an estimated $60,000 to $70,000 each day it has dragged on.
“We’re going to send Mr. Bundy the bill,” said Grasty, who criticized Republican lawmakers for meeting with the militants over the weekend.
The judge also called on residents not to offer assistance to the roughly two-dozen militants, who have been joined in recent days by out-of-state militia groups.
“No matter how you feel, do not bring food and supplies up to the refuge,” Grasty said.
The militants have been widely mocked for first calling for snacks, and then issuing a wish list of items such as flavored coffee creamer, tampons and cigarettes.
They have apparently received some unwanted gifts, such as sex toys, as seen in a Facebook video posted by Jon Ritzheimer, an Arizona veteran who is taking part in the occupation.
“It was really mind-blowing to me that people would actually spend their money (on this),” Ritzheimer said. “This box right here, $17.90 (for shipping). They spend and waste their money on all this hateful stuff to send out here to us and buy this ridiculous stuff. This one was really funny — a ‘bag of dicks.’ Rather than going out and doing good, they just spend all their money on hate and hate.”
He then angrily shoved all the unwanted gifts off a table and onto the floor.
Ritzheimer urged fellow “patriots” to join them in Oregon for “history in the making,” and he offered a message to his family.
“Please look at this as a deployment, only this time I’m actually serving my country rather than being sent over seas to line the pockets of corrupt politicians,” he said. “It is our sacrifice as a family that will make this country great again, not some election.”