US officials plan to cut power to a remote Oregon building where armed American militia members are holed up, hoping they'll be forced out by frigid temperatures. The militants begin their fourth day burrowed in at the remote Malheur National Wildlife in the eastern section of the state. They have vowed to stay for months to protest treatment of two local cattle ranchers.
The militia members are heavily armed and manning a watch tower to see any attempt to storm the camp. Authorities, hoping to avoid a violent confrontation, believe the easiest way to drive them out is by cutting power, then phone service.
"After they shut off the power, they'll kill the phone service," a government official told The Guardian. "Then they'll block all the roads so that all those guys have a long, lonely winter to think about what they've done. It's in the middle of nowhere. And it's flat-a** cold up there."
Temperatures this week are expected to plummet to -8C (18F) and the area will be blanketed with a fresh snowfall. The operation against the militia, which calls itself the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, is being run by the US Fish and Wildlife Service with the FBI.
Ammon Bundy, a spokesman for the group of 12, said militants were prepared to stick it out for the long haul, but don't appear to have enough food for a long siege. Bundy and his two brothers, Mel and Ryan, who are also at the site, are the sons of infamous Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. The rancher successfully held off federal authorities in 2014 seeking to seize his cattle for payment of some $1.2m (£818,240) in unpaid grazing fees for using public land. Buddy is yet to pay the money and still has his cattle.
The Oregon showdown concerns ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond, father and son, convicted of arson on public land. They said they were burning invasive vegetation on the federal pasture.