UPDATE: Cattle rancher standoff, BLM roundup halted
UPDATED 3:16 p.m.
A tense, week-long showdown appeared to end Saturday between the Federal Government and supporters of a Nevada cattle rancher battling the Bureau of Land Management over grazing rights on federal land.
The BLM stopped rounding up rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle and returned about 300 head of cattle to the open range to avoid the potential for violence, according to the BLM.
NEVADA – What began as a dispute over cattle without a permit has branched out beyond Clark County.
Cliven Bundy and his son Ammon now have a platform with an ever-growing support system in a heated movement that’s beginning to boil over.
Bundy, who calls himself the last man standing, says he “fired” Bureau of Land Management in 1993, and hasn’t paid Federal Grazing Fees since then.
For a full seven days contract cowboys have been using two helicopters and horses to round-up Bundy’s estimated 900 cattle on 1,200 square miles in the Gold Butte area. He has allowed the cattle to graze on the land for 20 years since he stopped paying grazing fees. He argues that the land belongs to Clark County and the state of Nevada and not the federal government. The government won two court orders and Bundy was ordered to remove his cattle. He has not done so.
Amy Lueders is the Nevada Director of BLM.
In the department’s first on-camera interview, she explains this cattle impoundment is a last resort — 20 years in the making.
“He owes the American people $1 million because he has not obeyed the laws. The courts have ruled on his argument, and have said that the land that he claims is his is public land. The courts have ruled that his cattle are in trespass, the courts have demanded that he remove his livestock and the courts have authorized Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service,” says Lueders.
The wedge becoming further cemented in this polarizing issue between a family with a Nevada foundation dating back to the late 1800’s and a federal agency they choose not to recognize.
There was a confrontation on a State Highway — and video purports to show BLM police using stun guns on one of Bundy’s adult sons.
The video has spread on the internet, along with a blog commentary claiming excessive government force and calls to arms from self-described militia leaders.