BUNKERVILLE, NV — A veteran cattle rancher is being besieged by the federal government in a dispute over land rights. The rancher’s family has been using the sprawling desert plains of Nevada for cattle grazing for generations, but the federal government claims that in doing so, he is trespassing — on public land. In an effort to stop him at all costs, they have deployed helicopters, heavy machinery, dozens of federal agents armed with tasers and sniper rifles, and loads of bad attitude.
A Rancher’s Defiance
Cliven Bundy is the 67-year-old rancher at the center of this controversy. He says that his family has been cattle ranching in the 600,000-acre Gold Butte area since the 1877.
“I have raised cattle on that land, which is public land for the people of Clark County, all my life,” he explained. Of course, the federal government’s idea of “public land” is somewhat different than Bundy’s ancestors knew. Today, the feds consider the rancher to be an outlaw, and his grazing cattle are deemed “trespass cattle.”
Bundy says that the federal government has grown increasingly restrictive and has eliminated all the other ranchers from the region. The Bundy Ranch is the last existing cattle ranch in Clark County.
“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.”
A showdown has been brewing for decades. Bundy has watched the abuses incurred to the ranching industry and about 20 years ago, he “fired the BLM” as he put it. Since 1993, he has refused to pay a dime to the BLM, an agency which is plotting his ultimate demise. The BLM claims he owes them $1,000,000.00 in grazing fees.
In 2013, the feds issued a court order demanding that Mr. Bundy remove his cattle from public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). He has since gotten visits from the Department of Homeland Security and sheriff’s deputies. The government now claims it has the right to impound his cattle.
Bundy, a father of 14 children, has never backed down. “At first I said, ‘No,’” he said. “Then I said, ‘Hell, no.’”
The strong-willed rancher believes that Washington D.C. has no right to micromanage lands across the country. His defiance to the federal government has endeared him to patriots, OathKeepers, and farming rights activists.
“Who is the trespasser here? Who is the trespasser on this land? Is the United States trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land? Or is it Cliven Bundy who is trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land? Who’s the trespasser?”
“Tell them Bundy’s ready,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Whenever they’ve got the guts to try it, tell them to come.”
He did not threaten violence, but he compared the situation to the atrocities that happened at Waco and Ruby Ridge — where federal agencies besieged and killed Americans in their homes.
“It’s a freedom issue. It’s not about cows. It’s a state rights issue. I really hope that we can learn and defend our liberties here and keep on fighting until the end,” he said. “I don’t when the end is going to be, but I believe that America is the greatest land in the world and it needs to be protected.”
“Our rights and liberties need to be protected and we’re going to stand for that,” he added.
Things came to a head when the feds descended on Clark County to round up and impound Bundy’s cattle. The scene was dramatic. Something resembling a military staging area was erected in the desert.
The BLM has arranged to spend over $1 million confiscated Bundy’s herd, with the intention of then selling it off at auction. This devastating blow will devastate their entire family and all the ranch hands that care for the cows.
Multiple helicopters swooped through low to the ground to scare the cattle. Dozens of vehicles converged on the area and dozens — perhaps hundreds — of agents were involved in the fed’s latest allocation of tax-dollars.
Watch how things began on April 5th:
The bureaucrats have an ongoing confiscation tally proudly posted at the BLM website. As of this date, the feds have seized roughly half of all the animals he owns.
The Bundy Ranch has strongly decried these actions. Its website labels the feds “cattle thieves.” Supporters have gathered around the ranch during the days of seizure efforts, which began on April 5th and have continued each day since. Crowds have gathered to confront the power-tripping agency.
The BLM closed off “public land” (term used loosely) for public use. Roads have been restricted and a conspicuous fenced in zone has been set up for the media. The agency not favorable to the press covering their operation.
Protesters were confined to small, fenced in zones with posted signage that read, “First Amendment Area.”
Some days, the number of protesters measured in the hundreds. ABC News reported 300 protesters on April 6th, the second day of the mass seizure effort.
They were not taking kindly to the cattle seizure, the restricted land, or the “First Amendment Areas.” A large sign painted with a hammer and sickle, that read, “Welcome to America — Wake up!”
While the BLM claims the fenced zones were for “safety,” they may also have been to shield the cow-stealing bureaucrats from the protests of passionate, embittered patriots.
The BLM made sure that the protesters knew they meant business by posting men with sniper rifles on the hilltops to menace them.
Several family Bundy members reported that the snipers had rifles trained on them just for filming. They said they were driving on the highway, not entering the restricted “public” land.
“He was doing nothing but standing there and filming the landscape,” Ryan Bundy said of his brother Dave to the Moapa Valley Progress. “We were on the state highway, not even off of the right-of-way. Even if they want to call [the area that we were filming] federal land; which it’s not; we weren’t even on it. We were on the road.”
Ryan said they were shouted at via loudspeaker to return to the First Amendment Area. “They said that we had no first amendment rights except for up by the bridge where they had established an area for that,” Ryan Bundy said. “They also had four snipers on the hill above us all trained on us. We were doing nothing besides filming the area.”
“We’re not pointing guns at anyone but we’re sure getting a lot of guns pointed at us,” said Carol Bundy, wife of the Nevada rancher.
Dave Bundy would later test how much free speech he had outside of the “First Amendment Area.” He was attacked and arrested on April 7th for “failure to disperse” and received facial bruises.
Cliven Bundy has called upon the Clark County Sheriff to exercise his authority to evict the federal government.
“The federal government has no authority here,” Bundy said. “The sheriff has the authority. All he has to say is, ‘no’ and that’ll get the federal government out of here. I think he has that much power.”
The situation has garnered the attention of Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, who expressed that the “First Amendment Area” was offensive and “should be dismantled immediately.”
“No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans.
The BLM needs to reconsider its approach to this matter and act accordingly.”
The family appreciated the gesture by the governor, but thought it came off a little weak. He did not take a stand against the seizure of the cattle.
Protests continued in dramatic fashion, and by April 9th, things were reaching critical mass…
Directions to the protest site are listed below. Citizens are also encouraged to petition the sheriff to eject the federal government from his county.
Call on Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie to evict the Federal Government. They have no authority to enforce laws in any county if the sheriff withdraws his consent. Also call local politicians to make this a political issue. Drive the BLM back to D.C.
- Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie | Website | (702) 828-3231 | Sheriff@lvmpd.com | Facebook
- Bureau Of Land Management | Website | (202) 208-3801
- NV Gov. Brian Sandoval | Contact Form | (775) 684-5670 | (702) 486-2500
- U.S. Sen. Dean Heller | Contact Form | 775-686-5770 | 702-388-6605 | 202-224-6244
- U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer| Contact Form | (202) 225-4131