Who is Cliven Bundy? Cliven Bundy (above) is a cattle rancher located in Nevada. He is in Clark County - the southernmost part of the state. Mr. Bundy says that since the 1800’s, his family has used a 600,000 acre area of land known as Gold Butte (Las Vegas Sun).
Why was the government in a stand-off with him? This past July, US District Court Judge Lloyd George ruled that if Cliven Bundy didn't move his cattle from the Gold Butte area by August 23, 2013, the government could and would seize his cattle. Since he hasn't complied with any of the government’s demands, a stand-off has ensued (Las Vegas Sun).
Who is the government agency involved here? Under the Department of the Interior, it is the Bureau of Land Management who is dealing with the Bundy case (BLM.gov).
Armed security guard the entrance to Cliven Bundy's Ranch.
Why are they saying Cliven Bundy has to remove his cattle? The massive land space where his cattle graze is also shared by the desert tortoise. This small, shelled, eight pound creature is labeled as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (Defenders.org).
Has the BLM taken any of his cattle? Yes. Out of the roughly 900 that Bundy has on his ranch, the government has rounded up about 234 of them. There are reports that Bundy's stolen cattle may even be auctioned off, but the BLM disputes, saying they don’t have plans for that “in the near future” (The Blaze).
Is it just about cattle - or something else? Back in 1993, Cliven Bundy stopped paying the government grazing fees. Why? He states he doesn’t need to pay the money because his ancestors were on the land long before the Bureau of Land Management was formed (The Blaze).
How much does he owe to the BLM? It depends on who you ask. Cliven Bundy says he owes $300,000. A spokesperson for the BLM says it’s actually $1.1Million (The Blaze).
How far did this escalate? While Cliven Bundy’s cattle graze on the 600,000-acre Gold Butte area, his actual ranch is 150-acres. It is reported by his wife that she saw snipers stationed around their home. It has also been reported that at least 200 government officers were dispatched to the area. Helicopters were used to round up the cattle. His son, Dave Bundy, was also arrested for publicly filming federal agents (see here - content warning). Several independent militia groups were also reported to have been on their way to defend Bundy (The Blaze).
What is happening now? According to a statement today from the Bureau of Land Management, it is over – at least for now. Neil Kornze, the director of the BLM, said the following: “Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public. We ask that all parties in the area remain peaceful and law-abiding as the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service work to end the operation in an orderly manner" (BLM.gov).
Why does this matter to me? Put it to you this way, the federal government was drawing weapons on a private citizen because of some disputed money and turtles. The fact that they were so willing and able to let it get to that point should be of concern to everyone.
(Photos: Getty Images).