Range war: BLM withdraws from Clark County, cattle released after standoff; Photo gallery

Previously impounded cattle running back onto the range after being released by the BLM, Clark County, Nev., April 12, 2014 | Photo courtesy of MaryBeth Greenwalt, St. George News

CLARK COUNTY – The range war between Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management appears to be over – for now. The apparent victor is the 67-year-old Bunkerville rancher who, with aid from supporters, among whom were armed militia, was able to get the BLM to discontinue its cattle impound operations Saturday. After Bundy supporters arrived where the cattle were being kept the situation escalated to the point that BLM officials released the cattle.

End of impound operation, withdrawal of the BLM

Paiute County Commissioner Darin Bushman, from Utah, was at a rally supporting the Bundys Saturday morning when Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie arrived on the scene. He said the sheriff stepped onto the stage and announced that the BLM would be discontinuing its impound operations, and also asked to speak with Cliven Bundy about the matter further.

Civilian militia standing guard in front of the stage at the rally supporting the Bundys, Clark County, Nev., April 12, 2014 | Photo courtesy of a photographer who requested his name be withheld, St. George News

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the sheriff helped negotiate a deal between the rancher and BLM Friday night.

“The Gold Butte allotment will be reopened to the public,” Gillespie said, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. “And BLM will be removing their assets here in Clark County. What I would hope to sit down with you and talk about is how that is facilitated in a safe way. We may not have always agreed, but we have been respectful of each other’s opinion and to the process.”

Gold Butte is the 600,000-acre rangeland area in Clark County the BLM closed off portions of to public access during impound operations that officially began April 7.

BLM Director Niel Kornze said in a statement sent out Saturday morning, “Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public.”

There were cheers at the news, but it appeared Cliven Bundy wasn’t entirely satisfied.

“Cliven was stern and straight-faced the whole time,” Bushman said, adding there didn’t seem to be much love lost between the two men.

Bundy gave the sheriff his own list of demands, which included BLM rangers and other federal agents disarm and dump their firearms at the base of a flagpole nearby. He then gave the sheriff one hour to comply, Bushman said.

As reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Gillespie did not appear to remark on disarming the BLM and warily walked away with his escort.

Also present at the rally were members of armed civilian militia groups who also came to support the Bundys in their cause against alleged federal overreach and BLM heavy-handedness.

Standoff, releasing the cattle

Riders on the ridge near the Bundy support rally. They will soon ride to the wash and aid in the release of the cattle impounded by the BLM, Clark County, Nev., April 12, 2014 | Photo courtesy of a photographer who requested his name be withheld, St. George News

The hour came and went with no response from the sheriff.

Cliven Bundy told the crowd he would give the sheriff five more minutes, Bushman said. When that time expired, Bundy announced  he was going to get his cattle back, and pointed to a nearby ridge where cowboys on horseback were waiting, ready to ride to the location where the BLM had impounded the cattle.

A legion of supporters drove to the location, a wash that ran under Interstate 15. While making their way to the wash, the protesters caused northbound and southbound traffic to come to a complete stop.

The BLM had “fortified themselves in the wash” and were standing guard at a fence set up under a highway overpass, Bushman said. Members of the Bundy family and their supporters, some of which were armed, descended into the wash and approached the fence.

While pressing toward the fence, federal agents began to tell the crowd they were in violation of court orders, and were at risk of being shot, Bushman said. “There were several intimidations that were made,” he said.

Bushman observed the event from the highway and did not move into the wash with the others.

He watched one of Cliven Bundy’s sons, Dave Bundy, go into the wash and up to the fence to possibly speak with the BLM agents. A short time later a deal was reached that allowed for the impounded cattle to be released, but not before the BLM vacated the area.

Time was given for the BLM to get out, and as a long line of BLM vehicles left the wash, they had to pass by the Bundys’ supporters who took on the side of the highway. “As you can imagine, there were many one-fingered salutes,” Bushman said. He added that the BLM agents were escorted out by Las Vegas Metro Police.

Bundy family, supporters and civilian militia at the overpass demanding the BLM to release the cattle, Clark County, Nev., April 12, 2014 | Photo courtesy of MaryBeth Greenwalt, St. George News

Once the BLM left, the cowboys on horseback rode in and the cattle were released. Triumphant cheers erupted from supporters. The cattle were guided away from the area by the cowboys.

“It was quite the event,” Bushman said.

The BLM released the following statement regarding the incident:

Today we announced the decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our grave concern about the safety of employees and members of the public.

This afternoon, demonstrators gathered at the area where personnel and cattle were located. Due to escalating tensions, the cattle have been released from the enclosures in order to avoid violence and help restore order.

The Las Vegas Metro Police Department, which encompasses the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, could not be reached for comment concerning the extent of Sheriff Gillespie’s role in negotiations.

Members of the Bundy family also could not be reached Saturday for comment concerning the day’s events.

Bushman said he supports turning the management of public lands over to the states, a subject which is related to one of the Bundys’ primary talking points – state rights and sovereignty. They see the states as being the ultimate authority, and not the federal government. State right’s advocates argue the states should be the ones managing the lands within their borders, and not the BLM.

Over 80 percent of land in Nevada is owned and managed – or horrendously mismanaged if you ask the Bundys – by the federal government. In Utah, that number is around 65 percent. Bundy supporters have argued that if the public lands were managed by the state, then the situation between Bundy and the BLM wouldn’t have occurred.

History: Why one county commissioner from Utah supports the Bundys

The whole mess goes back to 1993 when the BLM began to modify grazing permits that limited how much cattle a rancher could run on public lands in Clark County, namely the 600,000-acre Gold Butte area. The restriction was done in order to protect the habitat of the desert tortoise which had been declared an endangered species. Cliven Bundy refused to comply with the new restrictions and stopped paying the grazing fees. He also refused to acknowledge the federal authority of the BLM, believing any money he paid to the agency was, in a sense, going to he used to put him out of business.

Previously impounded cattle running back onto the range after being released by the BLM, Clark County, Nev., April 12, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Darin Bushman, Piute County Commissioner, St. George News

As well, the Bundys hold their rights to graze cattle across the Gold Butte range were established by their ancestors that settled the land in 1877. The Bundy’s inherited those rights, and argue they should be honored.

Cliven Bundy did attempt to pay his fees to Clark County, the entity he saw as the right administrator of the Gold Butte area, said Ryan Bundy, one of Cliven Bundy’s sons.  The county ultimately refused to accept his payments, and money that would have been used for fees went to improvement projects on the contested range, he said.

Now, 20 years and two court orders later, the BLM closed Gold Butte to public access and attempted to round up and impound the “trespass cattle.”

“This is a matter of fairness and equity, and we remain disappointed that Cliven Bundy continues to not comply with the same laws that 16,000 public lands ranchers do every year,” BLM director Neil Kornze said in a statement. He also states Cliven Bundy owes the BLM over $1 million.

Cliven Bundy refused to comply while other ranchers in Clark County did, he said. Now he’s the last rancher standing. The compliant ones were regulated to death by the BLM, the Bundys claim. While on the surface it looks like this was done in the name of the tortoise, the Bundys say the real heart of the issue is the federal government’s thirst for ever-expanding power.

Bushman said ranchers in Paiute County may be facing a similar situation that the Bundys did in 1993. He said a large part of the county is federally-managed public land – land which could be declared closed to grazing if the sage grouse is declared an endangered species.

All my ranchers are supporters of Bundy,” Bushman said, so he’s paying attention to see what happens between the Bundys and the federal government. He doesn’t want to see what happened in Clark County repeated in Paiute County, he said.

If the BLM or other federal agencies ever did roll into Paiute County and conducted themselves as they did in Clark County, Bushman said such actions would not be tolerated by the County Commission or the county sheriff.

What next?

Though the standoff between the Bundys and the BLM has ended and the cows are free again, the BLM isn’t done with Cliven Bundy.

The BLM will continue to work to resolve the matter administratively and judicially,” Kornze said in his statement Saturday morning.

Previously, the BLM stated that anyone who threatened or intimidated federal agents and contracted employees, or interfered with cattle impound operations, could be cited or attested by law enforcement.

Two altercations occurred between the BLM, and the Bundys last Sunday and Wednesday. The first altercation occurred when Cliven Bundy’s son, Dave Bundy, was arrested for failure to leave an area closed to the public during impound operations. The second incident occurred when Bundy family members and supporters clashed with BLM agents. In that incident, Ammon Bundy, another one of Cliven Bundy’s sons, was hit with a taser three times while Margaret Bundy-Houston, Cliven Bundy’s sister, was also thrown to the ground by a BLM ranger.

The second incident was filmed and went viral across the Internet. BLM officials have stated the incident is under investigation.

Click on any photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.



Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

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

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!


  • Dave Andrus April 13, 2014 at 9:29 am

    BLM was over their head. Make Bundy pay or jail him for stealing from taxpayers. And militia people that violate a law should be arrested and force everyone out of the area while the operation was done. The propaganda of every different story makes me believe how stupid people are and supporting a theif show the direction of this country. Court document are open to the public and if more people would have read what has taken place over the last 20 years. Bundys statement were recorded at that time. How easily he was able to tell people what they needed to get behind him without full knowledge saddens me of what a close loss of life almost happened. Support for Bundy would have been less if that was done, unless you ok with being stole from.

  • Greedy Utah Senators April 13, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Of course, Utah’s Senators probably praise the stance of the family & militia against the BLM, all the while trying to conduct agreements with oil, gas and mining corporations that destroy public lands. That’s where their true interest rests.

  • Papoose April 13, 2014 at 11:07 am


    • Ron April 13, 2014 at 11:20 am

      Exactly! And the rest of us lose.

  • Cathy April 13, 2014 at 11:20 am

    I think it just might be open hunting season on cattle that are illegally on OUR land!!!! Can’t wait until people decide to go get some FREE beef!!!!!

    • sensible1 April 13, 2014 at 11:52 am

      We’ve had the same thought at our house…

    • Rick April 13, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      I agree should be open hunting season for free beef. By looking at the photos the inbreds oops “milita” are just a bunch of boys with manhood issues! Bundy wants things for free, why can’t the rest of us?

      • Rick April 25, 2014 at 1:58 pm


        I think it should be open season on you, your family, and all your relatives. I’ll butcher and pack the meat, and sell it on the black market. I’ve never tasted human meat, but I’m sure it would taste better, knowing you’re gone.

        Bundy performs a service to US Taxpayers and the Feds. His cattle trim the grass, and provide free fertilizer, which I think you should eat, and he is not being compensated for it.

        If you shot one of my cattle, I would shoot you.

        So what do you think about the wild horses issue? Are your thoughts as stupid about that?

        When was the last time you traveled on public land without paying for it? Did you pay for this website? You’re a hypocritical queer.

  • RUKidding April 13, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Intelligence and rational thought loses. The only winners here are the Bundy profit margins and a few doomsday bunkers that got aired out

  • sensible1 April 13, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I am curious: Were there civilians there to support the feds?

  • melissa April 13, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    He needs to be thrown in jail.

  • A real vet April 13, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Wow. All liberals out in force today. I guess none of you went to church huh.

    • Rick April 13, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      By your name one thing is for sure…your not a Vet at all! The Boy Scouts doesn’t make you a vet!

  • Festus April 13, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    I wonder if any of these “protesters” have real jobs or if they are all just living off the federal government?

    • Jane April 14, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      Maybe they are simply true Americans who believe in fighting for a cause and took the day off. Not all folks are snakes like our leaders. The land that they are fighting over is slated to be sold off to a Chinese energy plant which has Harry Reid’s son’s interests at heart. No concern for the tortoihere….but that doesn’t seem to bother the libs. The federal government doesn’t own the land. I have never touched a gun and would never own one, but i clearly see why we need to maintain a right to bear arms.

  • Butch April 13, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Glad to see these militia men brought along women and children to hide behind… People are idiots!!!

  • epicket1 April 13, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    I bet all of anti-Bundy supporters are for the BLM to sellout land to the Chinese and Chinese Walmart.

    • Rick April 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      Do you even know how asinine your comment truly is? Probably not because I see you are just parroting the same rumours being spread all weekend. My favorite was the Chinese were going to build the worldest largest brothel..Did you start that one Epicket1?

      • bob April 14, 2014 at 7:38 pm

        You must be a government troll! go back to your leaders in Washington and tell them Americans are looking for a revolution, this is as good a reason and place to start as any!

        • Shirl April 16, 2014 at 6:34 pm

          we NV are looking for free beef !!!
          if not fees ( 1 million in arears )
          then we’ll take the beef and feed the hungray !

  • San April 13, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    I’m left to wonder if this incident will go down as the pivotal event in the arms debate…if you look at the photos, the BLM Rangers were outgunned and outnumbered in a huge way. This might be the new banner for the anti-gun lobby.

    • Jarad April 14, 2014 at 10:02 am

      That’s what the Second Amendment is for! Protecting us from a radical government!

  • Gidge April 13, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Little by little they use different things to strip away your rights and land. It’s the governments way of controlling you and turning YOU into cattle.

  • Maggie April 13, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Look how happy those cattle are and the turtles will be dancing the night away they love to eat cattle poo!!!!!! All is well with the world until people get involved of course.

  • geo jim April 13, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    So the new laws of the land are I don’t need to follow any laws as long as I have 100 nuts with guns with me??? The Bundy family and the rest of these fanatics are common criminals and they belong in jail. They had their day in court and they lost.

  • hw April 13, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Hi all you supporters, the bundys are in the wrong. Never was it “their” land. It’s governmental land leased to the highest bidder for an allotted time. In that time they have the right to change any of the land/cattle provisions. So since he never paid for the land it was never his to use or fight for. Every cattle rancher knows the instrumental use of the “contract”. Its to protect the cattle ranchers livestock and the land leased by tue government. Get a grip people and quit being sheep that follow a man that is definitely in the wrong. Anyone around lease land and cattle ranchers understand how in the wrong he truly is in

  • - April 13, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Looks like Americans are getting tired of the Governments s….* Hopefully we can have more true Americans fighting for our rights like these fine men and women.
    *Ed. ellipses

  • ton April 13, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    reminded me of alabama in the 60’s police and dogs attacking americans.
    these ranchers have civil rights also.

    • Rick April 14, 2014 at 8:33 am

      Yes they do have civil rights but those don’t trump the law!

      • Shirl April 16, 2014 at 6:18 pm

        agree with you as a Nevadian.. he is lawless, has ignored his losses in courts, local condemnation and even County wise which does not honor his stands. He has provoked an odd assortment of militia types out of control flashing their guns about…acting like they are heros and are mostly not from NV. BLM is within their rights to expect the grazing fees or cattle sales to pay for his use of PUBLIC lands (not his land which consists of just 170 ac) The fees serves to support wildlife areas, parks, repairs to federal and state areas that draw tourists and money for local businesses as well. Bundy has gotten away with ignoring his responsibilities for years, ignored all negotiations, and then is hailed a hero by the few ! Not so. he thumbs his nose at all Americans. He is not a patriot. He is a deadbeat.

      • Shirl April 16, 2014 at 6:37 pm


  • Edge April 14, 2014 at 8:12 am

    The federal government is not a person, and therefore does not have the capability to own any land. The lands that politicians have put in reserve west of the Mississippi are nothing more than an unconstitutional, illegal, boondoggle, land grab. The local sheriff has the constitutional authority to arrest federal law officers that are using unlawful force against its citizens.

    • SWins April 14, 2014 at 9:59 pm

      The Federal government supersedes local and state governments. It’s literally a condition of statehood that every state agreed to. Non-private land is considered “public” and is held in trust and managed by the federal government. They can set up rules for its use, and charge whatever fees they feel like. Usually the fees are quite minimal. In this case, even after 20 years of intransigence and non-payment, Cliven Bundy still only owes about $1 million, which is peanuts for him. He is used to getting free food for his cattle and effectively mooching off the public for his private and very lucrative cattle business.

  • Retired Fed April 14, 2014 at 8:21 am

    Regardless of who was right or who was wrong, it was inspiring to see so many Americans willing to risk their life to make a stand for what they think was justice for a person or family they probably never met. Regardless of the right or wrong in this situation, we must recognize from it that THE PERCEPTION of a great many of the American People is that the government is no longer “Us” but “them.” That has to be changed, though I don’t know how.

  • Bretticus April 14, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    I still find it funny that the county I grew up in (Piute County not Paiute County) is so insignificant (to those on the outside) that it’s almost always misspelled. I’m not certain where the official spelling dropped the ‘a’, so I don’t blame anyone. I mean, unless they have a map…oh wait. 😉

  • William W April 14, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    I hope federal arrest warrants are issued for everyone who came at the Federal Agents with arms to force the return of the lawfully impounded cattle.

    And I hope every single one has the book thrown at them.

    • Jane April 14, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      I Unless of course it was under George Bush.

  • jake belcher April 14, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    The feds land? Taxpayers lands? Absolutely not. If russia can’t take crimea in a peaceful democratic way, what makes any of you think it is ok to eradicate MILLION of native Americans through genocide and take their land. IF YOU SUPPORT THE FEDS YOU SUPPORT BABY KILLERS. “The constitution did not give us the right to bear arms so we could go hunting , they did so we could shoot at the government when it is taken over by tyrants.” Judge Napolitano. And just so all you free beef thinkers know. Cattle rustling is still a hanging offense in nevada

  • Joel burnham April 14, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Have any of these liberal idiots ever read the constitution????? Whatever happened to ” of the people, by the people, and for the people” . I guess now it’s of the tortoise, by the tortoise and so on. I also thought public lands meant lands that belong to the public. Thats you and me stupid! And by the way , whose ever heard of “free speech zones” on “public” property. Are you kidding me?? That’s our free govt telling them that they can say what they want…….to the tortoises. Because they’re the only ones that can here them. Wow I am amazed at how few people are concerned at this huge govt over reach. And not to mention how concerned the govt is over your tax dollars being wasted. Come on now, the tortoise? Really?

  • Bob Dole April 14, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    We are all worthless. We are all going to die and be forgotten. Nothing we do matters. Nothing we say will change anything. Nothing is worth fighting for. Nothing is worth dying for. Nothing Nothing Nothing…… seems like a bunch of nothings…. almost like there is NOTHING worth living for…. seems like those people found a just cause to defend… at least they did SOMETHING….. every word typed on here by any person for or against the actions in question just proves how much of a Nothing we all are… seems all we can do is talk about how right or wrong we are.. yippee hooray for meaningless words !!!!!! hahaha
    … (Remaining portion of comment removed by Editor)

  • FreeYourMind April 14, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Next stop Texas, the second front for the BLM land grab this week…Land taken without compensation. Concentrate on what needs to be done next. Don’t let these pro-BLM comments distract you. Wouldn’t surprise me if these different posters were actually just one person carrying out propaganda orders. It’s common practice to do this. You know the government is a master of this tactic but it wont work on militia. Obviously the comments are fake due to the inaccuracies of the details and the common buzzwords…classic sop.

  • Sam Smith April 14, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Bundy you are the grazee, you do not own the land, the taxpayers do. You have no leverage in this matter and this will come back to bite you in the ass. Pay your grazee annual rentals. You are stealing from the American people. You owe over $1 million.

    You are like a tenant renting out a house that swears he owns the house. Scum is what you are. An uneducated bible thumping red neck. Ignorant. Bundy family is a clan of degenerates who will be prosecuted by the long arm if the law.

  • TipsySailor April 14, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    What I’m wondering is “Why?” is the ‘Bureau of Land Management’ armed? WT …
    ? I also want to know the name of the ‘Public Employee’ that ordered those 900 head of cattle rustled.. oops I mean confiscated. Americans are armed and dangerous, we won’t put up with thieving politicians and bureaucrats. You know we hang horse thieves in America, lol So glad to see a 1000 man militia show up in such a remote location, makes me feel so proud to be an American. YeeHaw!
    Ed. ellipsis

  • EdDantes56 April 15, 2014 at 9:57 am

    The federal government “owns” 80% of the land in Nevada. Huh? Are we all insane? This land was not ceded to the Federal Government; a few national parks, etc might be palatable….but 80%. The cat is out of the bag and the people are fed up with an overbearing federal government. What is the BLM “special ops” team going to do?, kill Bundy and dozens of his supporters…..if they do, all hell will break loose.

  • EdDantes56 April 15, 2014 at 10:02 am

    200 BLM agents armed to the teeth to remove 500 cattle? Let’s just say Bundy has violated the law; where are the border control agents to stop the illegals from flooding into our country. Illegals who are a net drain on the economy, social services and committ crimes well beyond their percentage of the population. Why and how can the Feds marshall this type of pushback for one cattle rancher and this incompetent President and his anti-American minions can’t/won’t raise a voice or finger to stop the sovereignty of our borders.

  • Ashley Sanders April 15, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Amen eddantes56

  • Oh_Good_Grief April 15, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    For some perspective, it costs a lessee around $1.35 for a cow and calf per year, a price that changes when the seas part. Mr. Bundy has been unwilling to pay just over $1200 a year to legally feed his cattle on public lands. Without Googling the cost of cattle feed in the dry state of Nevada for an entire summer, something tells me it costs him a lot more than that to feed them on his own lands. And yet he’d rather waste our collective tax monies on taking the BLM to court, time and time again.

    I’d like to also point out that because you disagree with a law does not mean you shouldn’t abide by it. For all you gun-loving folk out there who think this militia concept was fantastic, you’re awfully quick to say the laws protect you, when you feel a legal violation complain coming on. Stop being so hypocritical. The man is a crook.

    • Shirl April 16, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      As a Nevadian I agree with you totally. The man is a deadbeat who not
      only usurped public lands illegally to graze for free but also diminished funds used to support public lands both in Nevada and other States. He instigated
      a swarm of militia types mostly not from NV to create a dust up being armed tothe teeth. The BLM didn’t back down, they chose life for all rather than a chaotic media-show and possible harm. He should be taken to court, fined, and the cattle recovered to meet his debts to us.

  • ladybugavenger April 15, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Oops BOB DOLE just made the newspaper, R rated. Better fix the language.

  • vern April 16, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    To ALL those that think Bundy should go to jail. Go to …. We are tired of this … Federal Government sticking there noses where they don’t belong. You must be a liberal city slicker that doesn’t know where there food comes from.
    I never heard of the Bundys until the other day and if the Feds give him More … there will a lot more showing up at the FEDS Door.
    Ed. ellipses.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.