Defiant after his stand-down of federal Bureau of Land Management rangers, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy told The New York Times
that the feds "don’t have the guts enough to try to start that again for a few years."
Bundy, 67, and his supporters are reveling in their victory in getting federal rangers to abandon efforts to impound Bundy’s 500 cattle, which have been grazing illegally on federal land for 21 years, the Times reported.
Bundy has amassed fines in excess of $1 million, but maintains that his family’s livestock has grazed on the land for generations and that he has committed no crime.
The federal government, according to Bundy and his supporters, is trampling on the rights of Americans in the West, handicapping their ability to make a living. Ranchers who have been there for generations, long before grazing fees, have "preemptive rights," they say, adding that there is also the argument of "state sovereignty."
"When my family rolled into this country in the 1800's they began to tame the land and use it for survival, settling this land the same as the rest of the United States," Bundy’s son, Ammon Bundy, wrote on one
of the dozen Facebook pages dedicated to Bundy’s cause.
"Each family claimed their stake and developed the area. Others respected the area and understood that as long as the family was using the resources or land it was the families (sic) to claim and share. When states were initiated into the union these rights or claims became more defined and further protected by state law as rights that could be sold traded or even borrowed against."
The government backed down following an armed standoff with protesters near Bundy’s Bunkerville, Nev., ranch earlier this month.
"The gather is now over," BLM Assistant Deputy Director Craig Leff told the Times. "Our focus is pursuing this matter administratively and judicially."
Another official characterized the Bundy supporters’ actions as "anarchy."
"This should not be confused with civil disobedience," said Rob Mrowka, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity.
In 1993, changes to federal grazing rules were made in the Bunkerville area, in part to protect the endangered desert tortoise.
In a post on the Bundy Ranch Facebook page, The Washington Times
reported, supporter Todd Starnes said the government, and Democratic Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, are in the wrong, accusing the feds of "jihad" for their attempted confiscation of the cattle, a half-dozen of which were killed.
"I’d like to know what gives our federal government the right to poach cattle and murder livestock," Starnes wrote. "Last week Senator Harry Reid accused those who support Mr. Bundy of being domestic terrorists. I wonder what the senator calls a bunch of government agents waging jihad against a herd of cattle?"
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