Bundy family say they’re ‘still ranching’ 10 years after armed standoff with feds

Exactly ten years after the infamous Bundy standoff, Cliven Bundy’s cattle continue to graze on federal land.

“Since then, we’ve relatively lived in peace,” Bundy’s eldest son, Ryan, told the Associated Press last week. “The BLM [Bureau of Language Management] doesn’t contact us, talk to us or bother us.”

Bundy concurred, telling the AP, “We’re all a little bit older, but we’re still doing the same thing: ranching.”

Indeed, according to the AP via Bundy’s family members, over 700 of his cattle graze comfortably on federal lands daily.

Yet memories of what happened still persist.

For years Bundy had let his cattle graze on the federal lands adjacent to his ranch without any problems. Then in 1993, the BLM “increased its restrictions on grazing — in part to protect the then-endangered desert tortoise — and required Bundy to pay a fee if he wanted to keep grazing on federal land,” according to Vox.

Bundy refused, saying, “I abide by almost zero federal laws.”

In response, the government kept fining him over and over again, though he refused to pay these fees as well.

“The case wound through various courts for 20 years, and Bundy lost several times but refused to comply with court orders to remove his cattle from the government lands,” Vox notes. “In 2013, a Nevada district court judge permanently banned Bundy’s cattle from grazing there, and authorized the government to confiscate the cattle. That court decision is what led to the spring 2014 standoff.”

Specifically, in 2014 the Obama administration tried to confiscate Bundy’s cattle, prompting hundreds of protesters — some of them reportedly armed militiamen — to assemble at his ranch.

Then because of a “grave concern about the safety of employees and members of the public,” the BLM caved and returned the confiscated cattle but vowed to keep trying to recoup the owed fines via other means.

A decade later, the fines remain unpaid.

That said, to this day Bundy steadfastly maintains that he was the victim all along — the victim of government overreach, to be precise.

“I’ve had that dot on my forehead and on my chest, and I’ve had my family with dots on their foreheads,” he told the AP.


“They were announcing on their bullhorn: ‘You’re defying a federal court order. We demand you to disperse or we will fire on you,'” family friend Mike Bronson told the AP, describing the standoff 10 years ago. “That’s exactly what they said. Time after time.”

Another standoff occurred two years later in 2016 when Ryan and another one of Bundy’s sons, Ammon, occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon to reportedly advance their belief that the federal government was required by the Constitution to turn over public land to individual states.

This standoff led to a shoot-out during which one militia member was killed and another injured. After the shoot-out, the militia leaders, including Ryan and Ammon, were arrested.

Years later, some now view what happened at Bunkerville (where the original standoff occurred) and Malheur as “insurrections” akin to the Jan. 6th riot.

“Bunkerville was an early warning sign of the MAGA/Trump movement,” Ian Bartrum, a leftist University of Nevada, Las Vegas, law professor, warned the AP.

“I think you can look at the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6 and draw a straight line to Malheur and Bunkerville as emblematic of insurrectionist movements in the United States and the failure of federal prosecutors to fully enforce the laws,” Erik Molvar of Western Watersheds added.

Western Watersheds is one of several organizations trying to pressure the feds into removing cattle from federal land, lest the cattle hurt their beloved desert tortoise.

“The desert tortoise is at the heart of it,” Molvar admitted. “Cattle continue to graze illegally … causing irreversible damage to ecological values.”

Bundy meanwhile remains defiant.

“Bundy argues the federal government does not have authority to regulate lands his Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints family settled some 150 years ago,” according to the AP. “He insists questions of local sovereignty have never been answered to his satisfaction. He says he believes a jury would agree.”

Vivek Saxena


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