Armed border militia confronts conservationists counting bats - Tucson News Now

Armed border militia confronts conservationists counting bats

  • Most ReadMost ReadMore>>

  • BREAKING

    Man pantsed by spiked fence, found hanging upside down near school

    Man pantsed by spiked fence, found hanging upside down near school

    Friday, March 24 2017 8:28 PM EDT2017-03-25 00:28:38 GMT
    (Source: Jesse Sensibar / Facebook)(Source: Jesse Sensibar / Facebook)

    A man in Tucson learned a valuable lesson about climbing spiked fences while wearing baggy pants, according to a Facebook post.

    A man in Tucson learned a valuable lesson about climbing spiked fences while wearing baggy pants, according to a Facebook post.

  • BREAKING

    Tucson boy arrested on sexual abuse charge

    Tucson boy arrested on sexual abuse charge

    Friday, March 24 2017 5:52 PM EDT2017-03-24 21:52:29 GMT
    (Source: Raycom Media)(Source: Raycom Media)

    The young boy at the center of sexual abuse allegations at Naylor K-8 School in Tucson has been arrested, according to city police.

    The young boy at the center of sexual abuse allegations at Naylor K-8 School in Tucson has been arrested, according to city police.

  • About Tucson News Now

    About Us

    About Tucson News Now Tucson News Now is the Internet home for KOLD, the CBS affiliate in Tucson and KMSB, the FOX affiliate in Tucson. On Feb. 1, 2012, Raycom Media, Inc., which owns KOLD and the Belo

    Learn more about Tucson News Now.

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It was a case of mistaken identity that, authorities say, could have gone very wrong.

Authorities say, apparently, a group of heavily-armed border militia members mistook conservationists researching bats for illegal immigrants or smugglers.

It happened Aug. 23 in the Gardner Canyon area near Sonoita where the small group of conservationists was out in the middle of the night conducting a wildlife population survey, in this case, counting bats.

Nobody was hurt during the confrontation, but the incident has law enforcement taking notice.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada say the militiamen were on ATVs. They were carrying weapons and were wearing camouflage.

"Obviously, they mistook them for smugglers or illegal entrants," says Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada. "They were armed. They put a spotlight on them."

The conservationists filed a report with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department.

The encounter with the militia group, apparently from Colorado, happened near Sonoita where people camp and hike and hunt.

Estrada says one of the militiamen apologized to the group of conservationists, who apparently did not want to hear it.

"Of course, they weren't very receptive about the apology. They actually told them that's something you should not be doing. There's danger out there.There's other groups of people in campsites," Estrada says.

Sheriff Estrada says Santa Cruz County does not welcome border militia groups.

"These people that are completely out of their environment. They really don't know the area. They don't know the terrain. They have little knowledge of the dynamics of the border. So it can be a real problem," Estrada says. "We really don't want them here."

"It can be a problem for them. It can be a problem for the people, just like in this particular case. Things could have gone terribly wrong," Estrada says. "They really don't accomplish anything. They really don't. With about 1,000 Border Patrol Agents here in Santa Cruz County, a little group of any militiamen are not going to make any difference at all. As a matter of fact, they're going to get in the way and they could get hurt. Or they could hurt somebody else."

It seems, before the militiamen realized what was going on, they had called Border Patrol agents who then traveled across the area, merely to encounter people studying bats. 


In response to our request for comment, U.S. Customs and Border Protection sent us a written statement regarding the incident: 

"On August 23, at approximately 10 p.m., Tucson Sector agents received a phone call from a member of a militia group reporting suspicious activity in the area of Sonoita, Arizona. Sonoita station agents responded and encountered a small group of biologists studying bats.

CBP does not endorse or support any private group or organization to take border security matters into their own hands as it could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences. CBP strongly encourages concerned citizens to call the U.S. Border Patrol and/or local law enforcement authorities if they witness or suspect illegal activity.

Securing our nation's borders can be dangerous. Interdicting narcotics and deterring and apprehending individuals illegally entering the United States requires highly-trained, law enforcement personnel. In all cases, individuals should not attempt to detain, provide transportation or any other assistance to migrants that may be viewed as furtherance of illegal entry. Detaining or assisting an undocumented migrant could result in prosecution."

Sheriff Estrada says anyone who is confronted by border militiamen should call local authorities and report it.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now All rights reserved.

  • Border NewsMore>>

  • Gang member deported 4 times charged with child sex assault

    Gang member deported 4 times charged with child sex assault

    Friday, March 24 2017 4:16 PM EDT2017-03-24 20:16:39 GMT
    Friday, March 24 2017 4:16 PM EDT2017-03-24 20:16:39 GMT

     A 28-year police veteran said this is probably the most heinous criminal act he's ever seen.

     A 28-year police veteran said this is probably the most heinous criminal act he's ever seen.

  • Maryland high school thrust into immigration debate

    Maryland high school thrust into immigration debate

    Friday, March 24 2017 6:39 AM EDT2017-03-24 10:39:11 GMT
    Friday, March 24 2017 6:39 AM EDT2017-03-24 10:39:11 GMT

    Students and parents whose Maryland high school has been dragged into the national immigration debate declined to comment about an alleged rape case involving a 14-year-old girl and a suspect authorities say came...

    Students and parents whose Maryland high school has been dragged into the national immigration debate declined to comment about an alleged rape case involving a 14-year-old girl and a suspect authorities say came to the U.S. illegally from Central America.

  • Man in custody after BP agents find gun, marijuana at checkpoint

    Man in custody after BP agents find gun, marijuana at checkpoint

    Thursday, March 23 2017 9:10 PM EDT2017-03-24 01:10:24 GMT
    (Source: Raycom Media)(Source: Raycom Media)

    Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents said the man was going eastbound on Highway 86 when he stopped at the immigration checkpoint and was referred to secondary inspection due to a canine alert.

    Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents said the man was going eastbound on Highway 86 when he stopped at the immigration checkpoint and was referred to secondary inspection due to a canine alert.

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • VIDEO: Cop calls fake IRS agent back, exchange goes viral

    VIDEO: Cop calls fake IRS agent back, exchange goes viral

    Friday, March 24 2017 12:41 PM EDT2017-03-24 16:41:00 GMT
    Friday, March 24 2017 12:41 PM EDT2017-03-24 16:41:00 GMT

    When a scam caller claiming to be an IRS agent unknowingly called a police officer and tried to scam him, hilarity ensued.

    When a scam caller claiming to be an IRS agent unknowingly called a police officer and tried to scam him, hilarity ensued.

  • April the Giraffe

    Giraffe watch: April has busy day, fans freak out when webcam goes down

    Giraffe watch: April has busy day, fans freak out when webcam goes down

    Saturday, March 25 2017 3:23 AM EDT2017-03-25 07:23:01 GMT

    Thousands of fans who have watched the giraffe's livecam feed for over a month were startled when the feed went down temporarily Friday evening, leaving social media commenters to ask one another whether the giraffe had given birth during that time. She had not. 

    Thousands of fans who have watched the April's livecam feed for over a month were startled when the feed went down temporarily Friday evening, leaving social media commenters to ask one another whether the giraffe had given birth during that time. She had not. 

  • UPDATE: Brad issues statement about #JusticeForBradsWife vs. Cracker Barrel movement

    UPDATE: Brad issues statement about #JusticeForBradsWife vs. Cracker Barrel movement

    Friday, March 24 2017 1:06 PM EDT2017-03-24 17:06:26 GMT
    So far, Cracker Barrel has not responded to requests for comment. (Source: Eli Christman on flickr.com)So far, Cracker Barrel has not responded to requests for comment. (Source: Eli Christman on flickr.com)

    Why did Cracker Barrel fire Brad's wife? It's really no one's business, other than Brad's and his wife's, but that hasn't stopped people around the world from demanding answers after a Harrison County, IN, man publicly asked the restaurant chain why his wife Nanette was let go from her job at the Cracker Barrel in Corydon.

    Why did Cracker Barrel fire Brad's wife? It's really no one's business, other than Brad's and his wife's, but that hasn't stopped people around the world from demanding answers after a Harrison County, IN, man publicly asked the restaurant chain why his wife Nanette was let go from her job at the Cracker Barrel in Corydon.

Powered by Frankly