Cliven Bundy/BLM dispute

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The dispute between Cliven Bundy and the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which reached its climax with an armed confrontation in 2014, began in 1993 when the BLM, concerned about the effects of overgrazing on the endangered desert tortoise, changed land-use rules to prohibit grazing on certain lands where it had previously been allowed, on penalty of monetary fines.

In pursuit of this, the BLM purchased grazing rights from cattle ranchers who had been using the land in question -- but Bundy refused to sell his rights and continued grazing his cattle on the now-off-limits lands while refusing to pay the new fines.[S]

The confrontation began when the BLM attempted to round up the cattle in order to remove them from federal land, but the round-up was called off due to concerns about safety of BLM employees if the Bundy supporters were to initiate a fire fight, ending the confrontation.

After the rounded-up cattle were released back to the Bundys, the Bundy family determined that two bulls had been shot by the BLM (which the BLM has confirmed) and several others had died from dehydration. This was followed shortly by the family's discovery of the corpses of the dead cattle.

It has been widely reported (primarily in the right-wing media) that the desert tortoise was just an excuse for government to behave illicitly (in the words of Shiree Bundy Cox, the government was "playing the endangered species card", i.e. raising the issue solely to gain support from liberals and environmentalists).


Bundy and his cattle ranching business have been profiting hugely from the use of land on which they not only pay no usage fees or taxes, but which is to some degree maintained for the benefit of cattle-grazing by the BLM, largely at the expense of US taxpayers.

Despite the claims of Bundy and his followers, the federal property in question was never owned by either Bundy, his family, or the State of Nevada, having been purchased by the federal government before Nevada became a state. This matter has been settled in court twice.[S][S]

Bundy has been essentially mooching off the federal government -- whose existence he denies -- for at least 20 years, while unapologetically violating their property rights.


  • /standoff: the armed confrontation with federal agents
  • /cattle grave: the Bundy family's discovery of the burial sites of the cattle which died during the roundup