Range war: Rancher’s son arrested by BLM, later released; transport of impound cattle put on hold

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.”

The arrest

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.


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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.


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  • Kelly hunt April 7, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    iPad vs sniper weapon I guess I don’t understand how dangerous my iPad really is.

  • Brett April 7, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    When did we start giving the tree huggers sniper rifles and SWAT gear?

  • GPM April 9, 2014 at 6:26 am

    You would think that by now Mr. Bundy would have learned that there is a time to speak up and there is a time to keep his mouth shut.

  • schazz April 9, 2014 at 7:14 am

    So this guy fails to pay a modern grazing tax on land that his family has farmed for over 100 years so the BLM- in a display of intimidation and force- comes in with roughly 200 armed agents to steal his cattle? Armed with machine guns and sniper rifles? Wow. Just wow. Sound 100% like fascism, I don’t see how this could be interpreted any other way. Very disturbing. In all seriousness I think American settlers went to war with the British for less.

    • Chris April 9, 2014 at 9:13 am

      Fascism? Hardly. This is really a simple case of enforcement of legal property rights against a trespasser. Bundy, the trespasser, threatened violence against the federal employees, and hence the weapons carried by the feds. The Bundy’s do not “farm” this land. They run cattle on it. The factual and legal difference is significant. The only thing disturbing about this story is that this nutjob, Bundy, is getting so much support from ignorant citizens like you.

    • Bub April 9, 2014 at 9:49 am

      Right-wingers were pretty happy with fascism when King Bush II was in office…

    • my evil twin April 9, 2014 at 11:43 am

      Cops carry guns of course they are armed! Where have you lived under a rock!

  • tax payer April 9, 2014 at 11:41 am

    You don’t have a right to free grazing pay your bill Bundy and BLM don’t give someone 20 years to do it. Public lands don’t give people free rain to do what they want. Can I fence off Vernon Worthen park and feed my cows for free?

    • NymRod April 9, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      It’s HIS land you IDIOT!

    • NymRod April 9, 2014 at 2:12 pm

      It’s NOT public land, IT’S HIS land.

      • Slickhorn April 9, 2014 at 9:30 pm

        No, actually only a small portion of what he runs his livestock on is deeded land, meaning owned by the Bundy family. The remainder is public land which everyone has a right to use and responsibility to protect for future generations. This is why the BLM is involved. If Mr. Bundy just would have paid his grazing fees of $1.35 per cow/calf pair per month like every other honest, hard working rancher then he wouldn’t be in this mess. Example: If you owned an apartment complex would you let the tenants live there rent free? No, because their rent goes to maintain the building and pay the mortgage. Same can be said about public lands, those $1.35 AUM grazing fees are used for range improvements, i.e. fences, water troughs, wells, pipelines, cattleguards, reseed degraded areas, etc., all of which help support the livestock operators who utilize public lands. For once I would have to side with the feds one this one!

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