Ongoing harm to Mojave desert tortoise is unacceptable

Hailey, IDAHO –A coalition of conservation organizations today pressed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to stop Cliven Bundy’s cattle from continuing to trample Mojave desert tortoise habitat in southeastern Nevada in accordance with the agency’s commitments under the Endangered Species Act and as authorized by a court order explicitly ordering the U.S. government to seize and impound these trespassing cattle. A letter to BLM from nine organizations demanded that Bundy’s cattle be removed by the end of this summer.

“We recognize that the cattle round-up of 2014 failed due to real threats to agency personnel,” said Travis Bruner, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “Those ‘threats’ are now mostly imprisoned and awaiting trial, but the crimes against desert tortoise continue. The BLM cannot wait any longer to comply with the law.”

Livestock trample, crush, compete for food with, and degrade the quality of desert tortoise habitat. Bundy was told in 1993 to reduce his herd to reduce the risk posed to the species. Bundy refused to do so. He then stopped paying his grazing fees, and his supporters ultimately succeeded in stopping the round-up of his illegal cattle in 2014. The herd remains scattered across and enormous area and the BLM has publicly stated that it has no immediate plans to resolve the trespassing issue.

“These cattle are competing with native wildlife in the area for food”, said Rob Mrowka a senior scientist working for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Whatever vegetation the cattle eat is vegetation that is not available for desert tortoise and other native wildlife for nourishment of for cover from predators. I am very familiar with wildland grazing, and ranchers are generally required to rotate their grazing herd to give the land a rest and to allow the grasses to regrow; neither is happening on Gold Butte.”

The impacts of the cattle grazing extend to illegally constructed water tanks and pipelines to serve livestock water sources. Bundy’s cattle are allegedly starving on the range, which means there is even less forage for the native wildlife. The current situation is cruel to all of the animals that make the area their home.

“While these cattle do not share Bundy’s criminal culpability for their actions, they are still degrading fragile habitat every day they remain on the Nevada range. It is time for them to be rounded up and sent to greener pastures.” Kirsten Stade, Advocacy Director with Public Employees for Responsibility.

“This has been an effort by a radical fringe group to seize public lands for their own personal use, and it’s well past time that it comes to an end” said Greg Dyson, Wild Places Program Director at WildEarth Guardians. “Public lands are an American birthright, they belong to us all. The BLM has received a lot of pressure to allow these cattle to continue to trample the land, and now the public is fed up. We are turning the tables and taking the land back for the public and for the wildlife, and to put an end to this blatantly illegal activity.”

The nine organizations include Center for Biological Diversity, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Los Padres Forest Watch, Pacific Biodiversity Institute, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Western Lands Project, Western Watersheds Project, and WildEarth Guardians.

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10 Responses to Government Urged to Round Up Bundy’s Cattle

  1. avatar April Lane says:

    It’s about time we the public take back our lands! Where do I sign up?

  2. avatar Theo Chu says:

    If Wildlife “Services” can gun tens of thousands of coyotes every year without valid justification they can certainly shoot these cows. This may seem drastic but it really isn’t especially when you consider that these cows are struggling to survive and if rounded up at great taxpayer expense they will quickly become dog food anyway. Get some helicopters and shoot them. Use lead free ammo so the coyotes, turkey vultures and condors can have a celebratory feast.

  3. avatar Ralph Maughan says:

    Seems to me that it’s time for a public hunt for these livestock. It would save the BLM time and money.

  4. avatar mandy says:

    Who do you suggest we call and write to? Which department(s) exactly for the best use of our efforts? Thank you!

  5. avatar mandy says:

    …meaning which government official(s) can we write to to demand they round up and get poor cattle OFF PUBLIC LAND, endangering tortoises and all kinds of critters.

  6. avatar Ralph Maughan says:

    THE BLM’s failure to move on the cattle is so typical of the agency. Its slowness is one reason why I think Bundy was able to ignore their orders to him for 20 years, and why he was able to assemble a mob when they finally decided to round up his trespass cattle.

  7. avatar Gary Humbard says:

    Having worked for the BLM, I can tell you the agency will NOT contract with Wildlife Services to gun down these cows. That would be a PR nightmare and after Malheur WR the agency is looking for conflict reduction, not escalation with ranchers. If there is designated desert tortoise critical habitat on these allotments as the article stated, then that will certainly help in their removal.

    I’m fairly certain the BLM is awaiting the go ahead by the Department of Justice to contract out the roundup of these cows. In the meantime, groups and individuals should continue to put pressure on the BLM to remove them instead of waiting for the cows to die of natural causes. I don’t know which BLM office manages Gold Butte but that is where letters should be sent and phone calls made.

  8. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    Well I hope they move them humanely. The worst prisoners of our society are treated with more humanity than any poor animal.

  9. avatar don smith says:

    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/10/cliven-bundy-nevada-cattle-grazing-blm-standoff-gold-butte

    “Environmental groups have called on the government to round up Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle with a mass seizure of livestock that some fear could lead to a tense standoff between armed militia groups and federal authorities.”

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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