RENO - A Carson City lawyer's claim he owns the cattle siezed by the Bureau of Land Management may prevent the agency from selling them off today.
BLM officials insisted Monday that confiscated cattle would be sold as scheduled despite the obstacles.
About 230 head of cattle have been penned at Snow's Livestock Auction in Fallon since the Bureau of Land Management impounded them late last month.
The BLM served notices last week on Goldfield rancher Ben Colvin and Jack Vogt of Lida that their cattle would be sold unless they paid tens of thousands of dollars in fees and fines for illegal grazing.
On Sunday, Julian Smith, a Carson City lawyer and Elko County rancher, told The Associated Press that he bought Vogt's livestock earlier this year.
''I don't have any problem selling them. On the other hand, I want the check,'' Smith said.
''Jack may owe them a lot, but I don't owe them anything,'' Smith said of Vogt and the BLM.
Gary Snow, owner of the Fallon auction house, said he's caught in the middle.
''That's the reason we don't know if we're going to auction yet,'' he said. ''We're in the middle of this deal. We're taking sides with nobody.
''But as of right now, unless something different happens, we're not selling these cattle without a court order.''
The BLM maintained no court order is required.
''Our intention is the sale will proceed tomorrow without a court order,'' said Brad Hines, a range specialist with the federal agency in Reno.
BLM officials also discounted Smith's assertion that he's entitled to any proceeds.
Hines said notices of trespass and intent to impound were delivered to Smith on June 26.
Smith, who runs 3,000 head of cattle in Elko County, said he'd been eyeing Vogt's grazing permit in southern Nevada as winter range for his own herd. He applied for it last year after learning Vogt's permit had been revoked. Early this spring, he said the BLM told him they'd consider his application if he got Vogt's cattle off the land.
''It would be a perfect arrangement for me. That's why I'm involved at all,'' he said.
Smith said he offered to buy Vogt's stock and brand.
''The deal was, the cattle belonged to me when they're gathered, not when they're on the range,'' Smith said. ''I didn't want to own any cattle that were in trespass.''
Smith said he gathered about three truckloads this spring before the weather got too hot to conduct roundups on horseback. And now that the BLM has gathered the rest, he wants his share.
BLM spokeswoman Jo Simpson said Smith transferred the brand back to Vogt on July 31 while the impoundment was under way. Of the cattle seized, a brand inspector determined 49 belonged to Smith and 29 belonged to Vogt because they were gathered after the brand was retransferred, Simpson said.
Ninety-two were without brands and are considered strays and property of the state. Sixty-two others were seized from Colvin.
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Nevada BLM: http://www.nv.blm.gov