CLARK COUNTY, Nev. – One of Cliven Bundy’s sons was taken into custody by Bureau of Land Management rangers Sunday. BLM officials confirmed the man’s arrest and subsequent release the following day charged with failure to disperse and resisting law enforcement officers.
As for concerns county officials and residents in Southern Utah have had about impounded cattle being brought across the states and into Utah, that plan is on hold for now.
During a media press call with representatives of the BLM and National Park Service concerning the agencies’ removal of trespass cattle from a northeastern portion of Clark County, Nev., questioners asked for details surrounding the arrest of 37-year-old Dave Bundy. Tidbits of new information were provided amid repeated readings of prepared statements.
The BLM is taking the matter of public safety during impound very seriously, said Kirsten Cannon, a spokeswoman for the BLM.
Cliven Bundy “has made a number of inflammatory statements,” Cannon said, “stating he will ‘do whatever it takes,’ and that his response to the impound is ‘going to be more physical.’ He has also described this operation as a ‘range war.’”
The BLM and park service support everyone’s right to express themselves peacefully and lawfully, Cannon said, “but when threats are made that could jeopardize the safety of the public, contractors and employees, the federal government has the responsibility to ensure their safety.”
Dave Bundy was arrested following an altercation with BLM rangers Sunday afternoon. As the investigation is ongoing, the BLM and National Park Service did not go into much detail regarding the matter beyond stating they were devoted to public safety.
Cannon previously stated that the BLM and NPS respect the rights of individuals to express their opinions and protests. However, individuals can be cited or arrested if they attempt to intimidate, threaten, or interfere with impound operations.
An individual can also be arrested for trespassing into areas temporarily closed to the public by the BLM during the impound. Cannon said people who wander into closed areas will be approached by federal agents and educated about what is going on and asked to turn around. If they do not, they may be issued a citation.
Daily updates on closure areas across a 600,000-acre expanse of Clark County can be found on the BLM’s Trespass Cattle Web page.
Ryan Bundy, one of Dave Bundy’s brothers, said his brother was with other family members who were parked along state Route 170, near Mesquite, Nev., so they could watch and take photos of their cattle in the area. He said there was initially one ranger vehicle nearby, but that number soon swelled as an additional 11-12 ranger trucks arrived.
Four of the rangers also allegedly took up sniper positions while the rest surrounded them.
When asked about the snipers, Cannon repeated the statement that the agencies take public safety during the operation very seriously. She also said: “Specific information regarding the impound operation will not be released.”
After the group was surrounded by the rangers, Ryan Bundy said, they were told they were in violation of some federal code and ordered to leave. The group asked the rangers about their First Amendment rights to assemble in the area. Ryan Bundy said the rangers replied they had no rights to assemble outside of the designated First Amendment zones.
“They pretty much annihilated those rights,” he said.
At this time the group began to leave, all except Dave Bundy, who was shooting footage with an iPad while also talking on his phone. This is when BLM rangers tackled him, Ryan Bundy said.
“He was doing nothing other than filming,” Ryan Bundy said of his brother.
Accounts of the attack given to other news media claim a German Shepherd was also used to subdue Dave Bundy.
Dave Bundy was arrested and charged with failure to respond to multiple requests to disperse (leave the area) and with resisting officers issuing a citation, Cannon said. He was released from custody Monday afternoon.
Cattle not coming to Utah – yet?
A recent count of trespass cattle has placed the number to be impounded at over 908, Cannon said. The BLM had planned to take the impounded cattle to Utah for auction, but that plan is temporarily on hold.
Christie Vanover, a spokeswoman for the NPS, said the agencies are taking into account concerns expressed by Utah state and county officials and residents. Neither she nor Cannon said plans to transport cattle were dropped, just placed on hold for the time being.
Last week the Washington County Commission issued an emergency resolution urging the BLM not to bring the cattle into Utah. They worry that a large number of the cattle have been running free for years and are feral (wild) and have not had proper veterinary care. The Commission wrote that the feral, or wild, cattle could pose a risk to the health of preexisting herds in Utah.
Vanover said the BLM has veterinarians on hand to check the cattle for any maladies.
Road to the “range war”
The road to the impoundment of the Cliven Bundy’s cattle started 20 years ago when the rancher refused to continue paying grazing fees to the agency. The rancher owes the BLM an estimated $1.1 million, Cannon said.
Ryan Bundy said his father stopped paying the fees after the BLM modified the permits in favor of protecting desert tortoise habitat. Cliven Bundy has tried to pay his fees to Clark County, Nev., but was ultimately declined. Ryan Bundy claims the county initially accepted $6,000 from his father.
The Bundys have stated they simply fired the BLM from trying to manage them out of business. Their rights to graze cattle on the land were also established in the 1870s when their ancestors settled the area. So their grazing rights, they argue, predate the BLM and should be recognized and respected.
Now, 20 years and two court orders later, the feds are starting to round up and impound the cattle.
According to a BLM website monitoring the progress of the impound, a total of 234 cattle have been rounded up as of April 6.
A Facebook group supporting the Bundy family has been created. At 8:22 p.m., Monday, the group has over 1,243 members.
- BLM: Northeast Clark County cattle trespass website
- Bundy Ranch blog
- Bundy Ranch blog: Contact information for Clark County and Nevada officials
- Letter to the Editor: The spirit of the West; range war
- Letter to the Editor: Bundy forfeited right to graze cattle; counter opinion, range war
- Range war: BLM, Iron County to work together on feral horse issue – Iron County
- ON Kilter: Bundy’s victim mentality costs him grazing rights
- Range war: County resolves to solve wild horse problem if BLM prioritizes Bundy cattle – Iron County
- Range war: County Commissioners oppose BLM bringing Bundy cattle to Utah – Washington County
- Range war: Rancher stands defiant as BLM moves to impound ‘trespass cattle’
- Perspectives: The Bundys vs the bureaucracy
- ON Kilter: Trespass cattleman not above the law
- BLM, National Park Service close public lands due to trespassing cattle dispute
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