Fifteen agents for each Dann sister

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We don't have much patience for law-breakers, nor are we ordinarily the kind to stand by idly while some transgression is being perpetrated under our noses.

Nevertheless, we are fairly amazed by the show of force this week by the U.S. government against a couple of elderly Western Shoshone women whose cattle graze illegally on public lands.

It wouldn't be because Carrie and Mary Dann have been fighting a rather well-publicized battle for three decades over an 1863 treaty, would it?

It wouldn't be because the Danns had the audacity to go to an international human-rights council to gain support for their cause, would it?

It wouldn't be because the federal government is embarrassed it can't control the actions of a couple of elderly Western Shoshone women, would it?

We don't know what drove the federal government to send 30 armed agents to the middle of Nevada, but -- as they say in our business -- maybe it was a slow news day.

By our calculations, that's roughly one agent for every 10 cows. Or 15 agents for every Dann sister.

We realize it's an issue some people take very seriously. Certainly the Shoshone Nation and others involved in grazing-land disputes with the federal government don't take it lightly. Nor does the federal government, judging by the amount of resources it dedicated to the cattle roundups.

But on the grand scale of unlawful activity in the United States, a herd of cows in Nevada hardly warranted such a posse of armed agents. Are all the terrorists already behind bars? Were no banks robbed that day? Was no dope smuggled into the country?

Speaking of dope, the BLM raid on the Dann cows reminded us of the federal raid on a medical-marijuana cooperative in Santa Cruz, Calif., a couple of weeks earlier. We suppose both were intended to "send a message" to the locals.

Well, here's the message we got: There seem to be plenty of federal law-enforcement agents with too much time on their hands.

Perhaps their priorities can be redirected.


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