The U.S. government is rounding up Bundy's cattle that it says have been grazing illegally on public lands in Clark County for more than 20 years, according to the land-management bureau and the National Park Service.
Between Saturday and Wednesday, contracted wranglers impounded a total of 352 cattle, federal officials said. Bundy says he owns 500 of the more than 900 cattle that federal officials are planning to confiscate for illegal grazing, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Bundy told the newspaper that each head of his livestock is worth about $1,000.
Since the roundups began, protesters have been confined to two areas to publicly declare their grievances, but the peaceful protests in recent days "have crossed into "illegal activity", including blocking vehicles associated with the(roundup), impeding cattle movement, and making direct and overt threats to government employees," the two federal agencies said in a statement.
Mr. Bundy’s daughter Shiree Bundy Cox in a letter explains the feud from the family’s perspective:
“I have had people ask me to explain my dad’s stance on this BLM fight. Here it is in as simple of terms as I can explain it. There is so much to it, but here it s in a nut shell. My great grandpa bought the rights to the Bunkerville allotment back in 1887 around there. Then he sold them to my grandpa who then turned them over to my dad in 1972. These men bought and paid for their rights to the range and also built waters, fences and roads to assure the survival of their cattle, all with their own money, not with tax dollars. The rights to the land use are called preemptive rights. Some where down the line, to keep the cows from over grazing, came the Bureau of Land Management. They were supposed to assist the ranchers in the management of their ranges while the ranchers paid a yearly allotment which was to be use to pay the BLM wages and to help with repairs and improvements of the ranches. My dad did pay his grazing fees for years to the BLM until they were no longer using his fees to help him and to improve. Instead they began using these monies against the ranchers. They bought all the rest of the ranchers in the area out with they’re own grazing fees. When they offered to buy my dad out for a penance he said no thanks and then fired them because they weren’t doing their job. He quit paying the BLM and tried giving his grazing fees to the county, which they turned down. So my dad just went on running his ranch and making his own improvements with his own equipment and his own money, not taxes. In essence the BLM was managing my dad out of business. Well when buying him out didn’t work, they used the endangered species card. You’ve already heard about the desert tortoise. Well that didn’t work either, so then began the threats and the court orders, which my dad has proven to be unlawful for all these years. Now they’re desperate. It’s come down to buying the brand inspector off and threatening the County Sheriff. Everything their doing at this point is illegal and totally against the Constitution of the United States of America. Then there’s the issue of the cattle that are at this moment being stolen. See even if dad hasn’t paid them, those cattle belong to him, regardless of where they are they are my father’s property. His herd has been part of that range for over a hundred years, long before the BLM even existed. Now the Feds think they can just come in and remove them and sell them without a legal brand inspection or without my dad’s signature on it. They think they can take them over two borders, which is illegal, ask any trucker. Then they plan to take them to the Richfield Auction and sell them. All this with our tax money. They have paid off the contract cowboys and the auction owner as well as the Nevada brand inspector with our tax dollars. See how slick they are? Well, this is it in a nut shell. Thanks”
On Wednesday, a bureau truck driven by a civilian employee assisting in the roundup "was struck by a protester on an ATV and the truck's exit from the area was blocked by a group of individuals who gathered around the vehicle," the agencies' statement said.
In the scuffle with protesters, a police dog was kicked, and officers protecting the civilian driver were threatened and assaulted, the two agencies' statement said. "After multiple requests and ample verbal warnings, law enforcement officers deployed Tasers on a protestor," the statement said.
The profanity-laced tussle was captured on a video posted on YouTube. A group that said it posted the videodidn't respond to requests for comment.
In the video, protesters demanded to know why a backhoe and a dump truck were being used in the roundup -- and whether any livestock were killed. On Thursday, Lueders said the heavy equipment was used for field restoration.
"No BLM! No BLM!" the protesters chanted to rangers in the middle of a two-lane rural highway.
What sounds likes zapping Tasers can be heard in the video.
In the wake of the publicized protests, members of various militia groups have been traveling from Virginia, Texas, Montana, Idaho and Wisconsin and arriving at the protest site and Bundy's ranch to support the family, said Stephen L. Dean, 45, of Utah, a member of one such group called the Peoples United Mobile Armed Services.
"It's tyranny in government," Dean said when asked what brought him to Nevada.
And, he added, "stealing people's cattle."
One banner at the protest side stated: "Has the West been won? Or has the fight just begun!"
In removing Bundy's livestock from public lands, the park service and land bureau are carrying out two U.S. District Court orders from two different judges.
"Cattle have been grazing in trespass on public lands in Southern Nevada for more than two decades," the National Park Service said. "The BLM and NPS have made repeated attempts to resolve this matter administratively and judicially. Impoundment of cattle illegally grazing on public lands is an option of last resort."
Added the BLM: "Mr. Bundy has also failed to comply with multiple court orders to remove his cattle from the federal lands and to end the illegal trespass."
The bureau does allow grazing on federal lands -- it administers 18,000 grazing permits and leases on 157 million acres across the country, the agency said.
Bundy's dispute with the government began about 1993 when the bureau changed grazing rules for the 600,000-acre Gold Butte area to protect an endangered desert tortoise, KLAS reported. Also in recent news is that the wildlife department plans to Euthanize many of the endangered tortoises: desert-tortoises-euthanize-nevada-024/ escalating the conflict revealing a government with only its own interest in mind.
Bundy refused to abide by the changes and stopped paying his grazing fees to the federal bureau, which he contends is infringing on state rights. His family has been ranching since the 1800s, before the U.S. Department of Interior was created and endangered species became a federal issue, he said in an interview with KLAS.
"My forefathers have been up and down the Virgin Valley ever since 1877. All these rights I claim have been created through pre-emptive rights and beneficial use of the forage and the water. I have been here longer. My rights are before the BLM even existed," Bundy told the station.