Six cattle "trespassing" on government land in Nevada died during the armed standoff between rancher Cliven Bundy and federal agents over illegal grazing rights, the Bureau of Land Management has revealed.
The BLM also announced that the agency is demanding payment for the 350 head of cattle that they have returned to Bundy, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The newspaper reported that two of the four cattle that had to be euthanized — one a bull and one a cow — had Bundy’s brand on them, while the other two, a bull and a cow, were unbranded.
The other two animals, which died of unknown causes, were also unbranded. Last week the BLM said that two bulls were killed because they posed "a safety hazard."
The federal government hired contract cowboys to roundup Cliven’s cattle, which have been grazing on lands that the government had designated a protected territory to preserve the endangered desert tortoise.
Bundy, of Bunkerville, Nev., has feuded for two decades with the government, which claims he owes $1.1 million in unpaid trespassing fees, while he says that the land belongs to the state.
Although the cowboys corralled 350 cattle during the weeklong confrontation, they released the animals due to the possibility of violence breaking out between the armed militias supporting Bundy and the federal agents.
BLM spokesman Craig Leif said the agency has since sent out notices to Bundy that he can "buy back the gathered cattle." He added, "These notices do not absolve Mr. Bundy from his trespass fees for grazing cattle on public lands without a permit."
The Review-Journal reported that government records show BLM signed a $966,000 deal with Shayne Sampson of Sampson Livestock in Meadow, Utah, for the hired cowboys – a figure that is close to the amount that Bundy owes the government.
BLM vowed last week to continue, by administrative and judicial means, to make certain that the law is properly carried out in Bundy’s case.
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