Bunkerville, NV, United States (4E) – Federal rangers released on Saturday some 300 cattle seized from a private rancher in Bunkerville, Nevada and stopped rounding up other bovines to avoid a violent confrontation with supporters of the cattle owner and end protesters’ partial blockade of Interstate 15.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Neil Kornze also announced the pullout of its staff from the Gold Butte area to ensure the safety of the officers and the public. Supporters of rancher Cliven Bundy, owner of the seized cattle, were outside his ranch and some of them were reportedly armed.
BLM and National Park Service officers and supporters and relatives of Bundy clashed near the ranch on Wednesday as the latter protested the cattle roundup that started April 5. Bundy’s cattle were seized for allegedly grazing on public land for 20 years without paying fees to the federal government. A son of Bundy and two protesters were detained and cited after the clash but released the following day.
Family members of Bundy accused rangers of tasering and throwing them to the ground. BLM and NPS officers claimed they were assaulted and their dogs were kicked. The incident and the federal rangers driving away from the scene on their SUVs were caught on a cell phone camera. The video was uploaded to YouTube triggering more Bundy supporters to come to the area to protest the cattle roundup.
The protesters gathered outside Bundy’s ranch blocking one lane of Interstate 15 and causing vehicles to back up for three miles in both direction of the highway. The blockade, however, ended on Saturday as the protesters dispersed.
Kornze said BLM will continue to work with the courts to recover the $1 million in grazing fees that Bundy owes. Bundy claimed it doesn’t owe the federal government because it pays grazing fees to Nevada state.