LAS VEGAS— Conservation groups have called on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to round up and remove the cattle of rancher Cliven Bundy, who has been illegally grazing his livestock on public lands for two and a half decades.

U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro on Monday dismissed all charges against Cliven Bundy and his sons related to the 2014 Bunkerville standoff. Navarro, however, did not exonerate Cliven Bundy for his continued illegal grazing on public lands in Nevada, including Gold Butte National Monument.

In 2013 a federal judge ordered the Bureau of Land Management to round up Bundy’s trespassing livestock on public lands within desert tortoise habitat. Today, decades after Cliven Bundy stopped paying his grazing fees and had his permit revoked, the illegal ranching operation continues.

“Bundy is still an outlaw when it comes to his grazing actions, and the prosecutorial failings in the Bunkerville case do not excuse him from the decades of unauthorized livestock trespass on our public lands,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project. “BLM needs to enforce the law and remove his cattle, which are destroying habitat for threatened species.”

The court ruled in 1998 and again in 2013 that Bundy or the BLM must round up hundreds of livestock currently roaming 750,000 acres near the Nevada-Arizona line. Much of the land that Bundy illegally grazes on is now protected as Gold Butte National Monument, established by President Barack Obama in 2016. Bundy owes more than $1 million in grazing fees, according to federal officials.

“The Trump administration is coddling violent zealots and preventing the public from feeling safe to enjoy our new national monument,” said Patrick Donnelly, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Nevada state director. “Zinke needs to stop this illegal grazing, which amounts to theft from the American people and future generations. Our government can’t allow Bundy to claim our protected public lands as his personal empire and defend his theft with force and intimidation.”

“Nothing in yesterday’s ruling absolves BLM of its duty to protect public lands on behalf of the American people. BLM must remove Bundy’s trespassing cattle,” said Chris Krupp of WildEarth Guardians. “We will continue to call for the roundup of Bundy’s cattle until BLM meets its obligation.”

“The feds shouldn’t avoid the chance now to ensure that some justice is served to the American public that is being robbed by this family. Gold Butte and the desert tortoise still deserve protection,” said Kirsten Stade of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Click here to view today’s letter to Secretary Zinke.

Click here to see a chronological factsheet of the Bundy’s illegal grazing operations and attempts to rein them in.

Click here to read the federal court order directing Bundy to remove his cattle by November 30, 1998.

Click here to read the 2013 federal court order entitling BLM to remove Bundy’s cattle.

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The mission of Western Watersheds Project is to protect and restore western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives, and legal advocacy.

 
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About The Author

Greta Anderson

Greta Anderson is a plant nerd, a desert rat, and a fan of wildness. She is the Deputy Director of Western Watersheds Project.

20 Responses to Bundy Court Decision Didn’t OK Illegal Grazing

  1. avatar Gail says:

    Thank you for the hopeful update. Very glad to see that well-respected organizations are not letting this serious issue fade away.

  2. avatar Ted Chu says:

    It is likely that many of “his” cows out there are unmarked or unbranded. Does anyone know what the legal standing as to ownership of such animals would be? Can we shoot them?

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Ted, I’m thinking ole Clive Bundy is taking full advantage of something similar to this, in his attempt to back out of his obligation/fees regarding his feral cattle, still abusing public lands”

      “Feral cows” do not exist in Fish and Game regulations because all cattle are considered domestic (not wild or feral) livestock and are someone’s property”

      https://californiaoutdoorsqas.com/2014/03/13/when-cattle-run-feral/

    • avatar Phil Maker says:

      Go for it!

    • avatar Ida Lupine says:

      I would think a government (or maybe the public) would be able to remove them, but it would be much more humane to place them in the care of a shelter.

      After all, they are a living sentient being. Neither side seems to care about that.

    • avatar Larry Keeney says:

      The Nevada legislature probably run by ranchers like Idaho’s. Probably go to prison longer than if you pointed a gun at a federal agent. I’d guess Nevada has a free range law similar to Idaho; hit a black cow at night in a rain storm and you pay for the cow and your totaled car.

  3. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    It would be a felony to kill another’s cow without their permission (grand theft) and therefore unlawful for you to “harvest” cattle from the wilderness area, or any other place for that matter, without written permission. When cattle do gain access to a wildlife area, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has the authority to relocate them under the provisions of the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 550(b)(16).

    This is from CA’s regulations.

    Yes, by all means Phil, go for it, and end up in the clink. You’re as bad as Bundy.

    • avatar Phil Maker says:

      The same law enforcement that has allowed Bundy’s cattle to trespass at taxpayer expense (to the tune of at least $1 million [plus the damage to the range and wildlife/habitat], is going to be out there in the desert, at the ready, to take someone in for putting those sad, sickly creatures out of their (and our) misery? Fat chance.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Ida – the discussion here is about a thousand head or more, of Bundy’s cattle, that have been left to roam, multiply and yes, starve to death, on public lands (for decades) because Bundy refuses to acknowledge his debt (to folks like you and me) for grazing those cows, on public lands.

      This situation will never boil down to rounding them up and sending them to some “shelter” Ida but I’m sure the Bundys would have a big change of heart about removing their cows, quickly, if they were declared, maybe by FWP, to be an exotic species 🙂 and invasive, to the surrounding landscape?

      • avatar Ida Lupine says:

        That I don’t know – I didn’t know how many cattle he has. Perhaps another rancher could take some of them?

        Not only has Bundy refused to acknowledge his debt, but the government has allowed it to go on for decades, and shows no sign of changing any time soon, especially now.

        • avatar Ida Lupine says:

          Humane treatment of animals has never (or rarely) been the BLM’s or FWP’s (or USDA’s) strong suit anyway.

          • avatar Larry Keeney says:

            Ida,
            Humane treatment of animals has. . . .
            For all except a small minority of people that will take a tremendous paradigm shift. If we (all of us) could ever grasp the concept animals have many of the same emotions that we have it would mean the end to people conflict as well. Accepting that animals have similar emotions (and some that we will never experience) would mean an end to racism for sure. Racism can’t exist in a mind that captures the premise that animals have emotions. Anyone that loves their dog, talks to it and sees it respond in obvious ways of exhibiting emotions is struggling with a latent feeling for all animals. That person just needs to let that knowledge blossom.

  4. avatar Larry Keeney says:

    Bundy has demonstrated his animal emotional empathy by the way he ekes out a living by forcing cattle on to that arid desert only suitable to those creatures that have evolved to thrive in what is inhospitable to cows. And if you remember his remarks concerning plantation life of the early 1800’s being so good for the enslaved plantation worker, that goes to my point in the above paragraph. We are living in an amazing time now. Trump has given license to racism, anarchy, blatant untruthfulness and those that are on his train feel exuberated with their new freedom. They no longer have to confide their abhorrent dialogue and deeds to their confederates. As Bundy has done they now use the bully pulpit and megaphone. And Americans for ethics in land use and social justice are thrown for lost yardage in every play we make.

    • avatar rork says:

      The Bundy cow problem has been ongoing, so I won’t attribute too much blame to he who speaks like a third grade racist. We are nearing 20 years since the first court ruling and the 2013 ruling gave previous administration time to take action yet again. I will admit it seems less likely to expect action now though. Using force to fix this will win some points from people like us, but it might have bigger downsides with people in western states who are more likely to vote for the party in power. So I’m not expecting much.

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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."

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