Updates at bottom of article.
From Fox: For 20 years, a tough-as-leather Nevada rancher and the federal government have been locked in a bitter range war over cattle grazing rights.
This weekend the confrontation got worse, when the feds hired contract cowboys to start seizing Cliven Bundy’s cattle, which have been grazing on in question public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. However, Bundy said his ancestors worked the land since the 1880s, giving him rights to the land.
The government officials brought a show of force that included dozens of armed agents in SUVs and helicopters.
Bundy, 67, who has been a rancher all his life, accuses BLM of stampeding over on his rights.
“This is a lot bigger deal than just my cows,” Bundy told FoxNews.com. “It’s a statement for freedom and liberty and the Constitution.”
“We own this land,” he said, not the feds. He said he is willing to pay grazing fees but only to Clark County, not BLM.
“Years ago, I used to have 52 neighboring ranchers,” he said. “I’m the last man standing. How come? Because BLM regulated these people off the land and out of business.”
He said he won’t let the feds do that to him.
“I said, ‘No.’ Then, ‘Hell, no,’” he said.
BLM said in a statement two judges ordered Bundy to remove his cattle from Gold Butte. The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, said the federal action was long overdue.
“We’re not pointing guns at anyone but we’re sure getting a lot of guns pointed at us.”
– Carol Bundy, wife of Nevada rancher
On a local front, Fox 13 Now has reported: Washington county commissioners held an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon to discuss the range war.
The meeting ended with a resolution urging Nevada BLM administrators to leave free-range cattle where they are. Commissioners said if rangers move to confiscate the cattle, those cattle should stay out of Utah.
“It’s inherently wrong in my opinion,” said Washington County Commission chair James Eardley. “And I think the collective opinion of the commissions, that we would take the private property of an individual and confiscate it.
Washington County is the latest local government to get involved in a bitter dispute between the Bureau of Land Management and Clark County rancher Cliven Bundy.
“My stand is, I have no contract with the United States government,” Bundy said. “And [the government] does not own this land, this is land that’s part of the sovereign state of Nevada, Clark County.”
It’s a battle that goes back more than 20 years, when Bundy decided to stop paying the BLM for range land use. Bundy said he felt the federal agency was miss-managing the land his family had used freely for close to a century before. The BLM has asked Bundy multiple times to remove his cattle. Finally, a federal judge signed off on a court order allowing rangers to forcibly remove the cattle.
Iron County commissioners are also getting in the fight, backing Bundy with a resolution warning the BLM if they follow through with their plan to confiscate Bundy’s cattle, commissioners will direct the Iron County Sheriff to begin measures to thin out the wild horse population.
Managing wild horses is a task of the BLM, but commissioners said the federal agency is failing at its job. The resolution states if the BLM would rather spend money rounding up cattle, Iron County will round up the horses.
The BLM has closed public lands in Clark County while they work on a plan to round up the “trespassing” cattle. Only marked vehicles are allowed past a barricade, and free speech zones are located several miles away.
BLM public affairs specialist Hillerie Patton said officials haven’t started confiscating cattle as of Friday afternoon, but a public website had been set up to apprise the public on the current status.
Bundy said he’s not sure what will happen if they do take his cattle, but he’s prepared to do everything he can to stop it from happening, and said it’s comforting to know people are behind him.
Udate: 4/10/2014: Nevada officials blast feds over treatment of cattle rancher Cliven Bundy.
“No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans.”
– Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval
Update 4/10/2014: Escalation in protests
UPDATE: 200 Armed Federal Agents Surround Nevada Ranch… Feds Forcibly Removing Cattle. http://freebeacon.com/issues/last-man-standing/