Federal agents bearing machine guns have swooped onto a Nevada rancher’s property, surrounding his home and forcibly removing his cattle – a chaotic and aggressive escalation to a public-private standoff that’s raged for 20-plus years.
Cliven Bundy has refused to pay grazing fees for his cattle since 1993, embarking instead on a “one-man range war” against the Bureau of Land Management, court documents reported by the Washington Free Beacon showed. Bundy’s view: I’m not paying fees for my cattle to graze on land that’s been owned by my family for centuries.
So he’s battled it out with BLM in court for more than two decades. But apparently, the government decided enough was enough.
“What’s happened the last two weeks, the United States government, the bureaus are getting this army together and they’re going to get their job done and they’re going to prove two things. They’re going to prove they can do it, and they’re [going to] prove that they have unlimited power and that they control the policing power over this public land. That’s what they’re trying to prove,” Bundy said, to the Washington Free Beacon.
He also said the federal authorities had unleashed a range of military-type equipment – everything but tanks and rocket launchers, he said, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
His wife, Carol, meanwhile said 200-plus armed agents from both the BLM and the FBI have taken up spots around their property line. An estimated eight helicopters are also circling, she said.
“We’re surrounded,” she said, in the news outlet. “We’re estimating that there are over 200 armed BLM, FBI. We’ve got surveillance cameras at our house, they’re probably listening to me talk to you right now.”
A spokesperson for the National Park Service denied that armed federal agents had been tasked with taking the couple’s cattle. But she did confirm that “security” agents had been sent to the scene, in response to what she claimed were threats made against the officials – she described them as contractors -- who removed the cattle.
Meanwhile, Cliven’s son, Dave Bundy, has been taken into custody on State Road 170, a portion of highway that was closed at the federal authorities’ requests, the Washington Free Beacon reported. A BLM spokesperson said Dave Bundy was detained and taken because he failed to comply with numerous federal agent requests to “leave the temporary closure area on public lands,” the media outlet reported.