6 cattle died in disputed roundup, BLM says
LAS VEGAS — Six animals died in a federal roundup of cattle that officials say rancher Cliven Bundy allowed to graze illegally for 20 years on public land outside his Southern Nevada property, the Bureau of Land Management said Tuesday.
Four animals were euthanized, including one cow and one bull that bore Bundy brands, the agency said in a statement. The document was first obtained Monday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The agency didn’t say how two other unbranded animals died.
“The Bundy branded bull that was euthanized posed a significant threat to employees during the gather,” BLM spokesman Jeff Krauss said in the emailed statement. It said the Bundy branded cow was put down after running into a fence panel and injuring its spine.
Bundy family members said last week they found at least one burial site with an unknown number of animals after BLM agents and contractors suspended the weeklong roundup, released about 350 animals back to Bundy, and left the area April 12.
The pullout followed a tense standoff between armed protesters and federal agents. Federal officials have said the agency would pursue unspecified administrative and judicial remedies, but BLM officials have not provided details.
The BLM last week sent certified letters to Bundy, offering to let him keep his cattle if he pays some $1.1 million in fees it says he owes plus “reasonable expenses of the impoundment.” Agency officials have said the contract for the roundup was $900,000.
The roundup came after the BLM won federal court rulings that Bundy was illegally grazing cattle on remote rangeland near Bunkerville, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
Bureau officials said Bundy stopped paying grazing fees in 1993 after the government designated the scenic Gold Butte area as protected habitat for the endangered desert tortoise and cut his allotment of cows. Grazing fees today can be as little as $1.35 per cow per month.
The dispute has reopened a debate about federal land ownership and states’ rights in a Western region where the BLM controls vast stretches of rangeland.
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said last week that a federal task force was being formed to address the Bundy grazing issue.