Embattled Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy sent out an ominous announcement Sunday night, promising a war and inviting the press to come cover it.
“They have cattle and now they have one of my boys,” said the email sent from Bundy’s address just after 9 p.m. Sunday. “Range War begins tomorrow at Bundy ranch at 9:30 a.m.”
It’s unclear what Bundy has planned.
His wife, Carol Bundy, said the federal agents arrested their son, Dave Bundy, on Sunday afternoon along state Route 170 near Mesquite. The family is not sure what charges he faces. The 37-year-old was in a parked car along the state highway, which had not been closed to traffic, taking photos with an iPad, the family said.
The BLM confirmed Dave Bundy was taken into custody Sunday. He is alleged to have failed to comply with “multiple requests” by law enforcement authorities to leave the temporary closure area on public lands.
Natalie Collins, a spokeswoman for the Nevada U.S. Attorney’s office, said Bundy was released from custody and cited for “refusing to disperse and resisting issuance of a citation/arrest.”
Earlier, BLM spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon said someone had been taken into custody to “protect public safety and maintain the peace,” but she declined to identify the person.
“The Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service support the public’s right to express opinions peacefully and lawfully. However, if an individual threatens, intimidates or assaults another individual or impedes the impoundment, they may be arrested in accordance with local, state or Federal laws,” Cannon said in a written statement.
Cliven Bundy was in Las Vegas early Monday to meet with Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, although it had nothing to do with his son’s arrest. Gillespie said their meeting was arranged on Saturday.
Bundy wanted contact information for Metro supervisors in his area, Gillespie said, and the sheriff provided him the information. But Gillespie reiterated that his agency isn’t involved in the roundup.
“This is strictly a federal operation,” he said.
The roundup got underway Saturday morning and brought in 76 animals the first day and 58 the second for a total of 134.
Federal agents and contract cowboys — both on the ground and in the air, with at least one helicopter — are expected take up to a month to round up the rancher’s derelict herd, which could include more than 900 animals scattered over a remote, 90-mile swath of mountains and desert in northeastern Clark County.
The BLM and the National Park Service have closed off public access to almost 600,000 acres of federal land for the roundup.
Bundy considers much of that area his ranch to use as he sees fit, but the BLM canceled his federal grazing permit 20 years ago, after the rancher refused to agree to new land-use rules and stopped paying his fees.
In the decades since, Bundy has challenged or ignored repeated directives from the government to remove his livestock from public land.
Two federal court orders issued within the last year authorized authorities to impound the “trespass cattle.”
As the first cattle were rounded up and removed from the range Saturday, Bundy criticized the action but made no attempt to disrupt it. That might be about to change.
“Press- if you are going to cover this you’d better come!” Bundy’s email said Sunday night. “We going to get the job done!”
In a statement, the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association distanced itself from Bundy’s actions. The association noted that it supports effective range management through working with agencies to reach goals that encompass ranching and conservation of wildlife.
“Nevada Cattlemen’s Association does not feel it is in our best interest to interfere in the process of adjudication in this matter, and in addition NCA believes the matter is between Mr. Bundy and the federal courts,” the association said. “Nevada Cattlemen’s Association is sensitive and concerned how the Bundy cattle confiscation situation has evolved.”
Review-Journal reporters Ben Botkin, Jeff German and Mike Blasky and photojournalist John Locher contributed to this report. Contact reporter Henry Brean at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0350. Follow him on Twitter at @RefriedBrean.
Sheriff Douglas C. Gillespie
Phone number: 702-828-3394