Nevada cattle at center of battle between federal, county officials

ST. GEORGE, Utah – A Nevada rancher is in the middle of a range war with the federal government. Now Southern Utah county commissioners are getting involved, urging the feds to back off.

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.

“I’ve tried to fight this thing legally, and I’ve tried to fight it politically,” Bundy said. “We’ve got one more fight. We the people haven’t fought yet.”

Updates on the status of the BLM activities in Clark County can be found here.

16 comments

  • Utah Red

    Having grown up in Utah and the west I really like the public lands. I believe this land should belong to Utah and the rest of the western states and not the Federal government, as they promised it would, but I do believe it should remain public land no matter who manages it. “Public land” not “government land”. This means that it is for our use, not some giant animal reserve. We can have those too, and we do, but our lands should be used and managed by us and for us to use as we see fit. Not some government bureaucracy that makes its rules from D.C.

  • Rifle

    If a heard of elk or deer or what ever moves onto private land and you want to hunt, you’ll pay a lot I’m sure. but if they need their cattle to graze on public land it should be free?

    • Bob

      I think you need to read up on the fish and game license laws . You are way off on you statement. Read up on the depredation licenses section..

  • Jennifer Spencer

    The problem with this case is that the environmental extremists and federal agencies are trying to represent that the Mr. Bundy’s cattle have caused all the “irreprable damage” to these lands. So there are no other wildlife or public use on this land? Any layman can see that is not the case. If anyone has a question about how to treasure and take care of the land, ask a rancher or a farmer. I am a rancher myself, and It is obsurd to try to put the idea in people’s minds that a cattle, sheep, or any other type of rancher, would want to do harm to the land they graze. It is our livelihood. We WANT to help our land be prosperous and clean. If our land isn’t prosperous, then our animals don’t prosper either. I agree with Mr. Bundy’s rebellion against paying his fees. We have paid thousands of dollars every year to graze our lands and maintain them, just to have these agencies change the rules in the middle of it. An example is, A man with a family rents a house. The man and the landlord agree to a 1 year lease. The man pays rent faithfully every month, but 6 months into the lease, the landlord tells the man that he must move out because his family is killing the grass in the city park. It makes absolutely no sense. Also, we are currently dealing with a similar issue regarding the out of control elk herd population in our area. The federal agencies are supposed to have the numbers controlled, but now our cattle are being blamed for all the damage to the lands here, when really, the elk are ruining our private property as well. We put up fences as the federal agencies tell us to (at our own expense), just to have the elk break them down again. Then once again, the cattle are “trespassing” when they go beyond the fence line. These federal agencies and environmental extremists are out of control. Mr. Bundy is proving that with this cause. Another thing most of the public is not aware of, is that when an animal is federally protected, like the turtles in Mr. Bundy’s case, the number of that protected species is not counted if it is on private property or state land, only federal land. So I’m sure the numbers for these turtles are ALOT more than the public is actually seeing listed. We are having the same issue with the prairie dogs and sage grouse in our area. They are also out of control, but cannot be removed from the protected list until the number of animals on FEDERAL land produces their desired numbers. What can a small time rancher or farmer do to protect their lands anymore? I think Mr. Bundy is on the right track.

    • Kc Coleman

      Perhaps the elk are out of control, as well as the mustang population, because of how you ranchers have changed the landscape. By making it too rich in an effort to keep your cattle numbers high. Every picture the media shows, shows fat sassy cattle.

    • Kc Coleman

      I think a better analogy of the “renter” situation would be Joe Shmoe rents a house for a period of time, it’s hot so joe installs a pool. 1 year later the landlord sells to another landlord. The new landlord waits until the lease is up, and raises the rent. Joe Schmoe decides he is not paying the new rent, and refuses to pay or move, citing that because he put so much money into the property he has a right to live there forever. The landlord has to go to court and sue Joe Schmoe to make him leave.

  • Wendy Smith

    Jennifer, your comment on the elk ruining fences is so true. My father has given up the use of 440 private acres for his cattle because of trampled fences. Fences that need to be fixed and replaced all year long, which is very costly. The elk, deer and antelope graze freely on private property. This is the reason many ranchers depend on government lands to lease.

  • Cameron

    Can’t you folks see that the government has no business telling you what to do with your land. Now for them to point a gun and make you leaving a really bad as I did a joystick she in the state road is equally disturbing.

    • Cameron

      ok translator does not work well. Can’t you folks see that the feds have no rights to tell you what you can and cannot do on your lsnd. Now it is equally didtrubing that a federal official can descend upon you like a common criminal on land out of their jurisdictional jurisprudence id equally disturbing. Whrre is the justice! Where are the sheriff’s eho tskr sn oath to defend our life, liberty, and property?

  • Michael Hawks Hay

    The fed’s might want your personal possessions next ..that’s what tirants do…when a government becomes so determined to wage war with its own people because they the fed have become one big anti public reigeam. led by one mind set to take take take to what ever extent they deem necessary is solid proff that the federal government has become a ruleing tirant with no regards to states or individuals private freedoms and rights .they exersize their strength and power to bully and even induce harm to anyone who would appose them .even if a person or persons are within their constitutional wrights …this is the Greatest Country on planet earth its people make it so not its corrupt tirant government…this man Mr Bundy is stepping up to face this tirant government for the rights of the American people .now ask your self why he should do it alone ………..God bless the people of these United States of America and protect our God Given Rights and our Constitution..help us elect a better breed of law makers who are for the American people and not against our rights to liberty’s and freedoms to achieve the long forgotten American Dreams …Amen

  • Mike

    “The cattle raised in the West only amount to 2% of the cattle sold at market” Where did you come up with that?? And even if that is true, it doesn’t matter. Cattle grazing on public lands are a huge part of rural Nevada’s economy. So many people fail to realize all the benefits of cattle grazing and the cattle industry in general. It not just about the meat and other products that come from the cow. Cattle ranching is an industry, and it creates a cash flow for the economy which in turn creates jobs and fuels other industries. I don’t agree with everything that Mr. Bundy has done in this situation, but I agree with some of it. The federal government should have never closed those areas to grazing. When managed properly, livestock grazing can be very beneficial to the rangelands and wildlife as well as the economy. It does need to be managed though.

  • Jennifer Spencer

    ShirlSumm, You have no idea how out of control the elk, deer, and antelope population is in Utah. Myself and several ranchers in my area are currently in our own dispute with federal agencies over the issue. Please read my post.

  • seszoo

    The ranchers out there have done more to protect the land (their way of life ) and the wildlife along with their cattle through irrigation and water wells and tanks than the govt has ever done to protect anything besides the free ride for millions of people who think thats their right .

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