Nev. Ranch Standoff Ends; Legal Fight Continues

By Brett Snider, Esq. on April 16, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Nevada rancher has prevailed in a standoff against the federal government over grazing rights for his cattle. But the legal battles are far from over.

Cliven Bundy, 67, attracted the attention of militiamen nationwide after he refused to pay grazing fees to the federal government -- which then seized Bundy's cattle. States' rights protestors and militia members rallied to Bundy's side, escalating tensions until the Bureau of Land Management finally agreed to release his cows on Saturday, reports the Las Vegas Sun.

What legal troubles still await this stalwart rancher?

You Can't Take the Sky From Me

Armed militia members began their journey to defend Bundy and his rights after hearing that the BLM had made efforts to "seize Bundy's cattle" for trespassing on what it claims is federal land.

The federal government has powers to regulate cattle grazing under the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. Allowing cows to wander onto others' lands in order to graze has long been considered trespass under the common law, and the BLM alleges that Bundy was allowing his cattle to trespass onto federal land.

Bundy contends that he stopped paying "grazing fees" to the BLM because the land is owned by the state of Nevada, and he believes he has a right to use it, reports the Sun. Nevada grazing law recognizes the authority of the BLM under the Taylor Grazing Act and has delegated state grazing boards to regulate grazing rights.

It appears that Bundy has not paid these entities their dues for more than 20 years, but this recent standoff is proof that Bundy isn't alone in his convictions.

A Taste of Things to Come

Although Bundy and the militia members may have stalled the BLM's efforts to enforce the laws, the fight isn't over.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who represents Nevada, said as much after Saturday's release of Bundy's cattle. "We can't have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it," Reid told Reno's KRNV-TV.

Bundy's son Dave agrees. The Sun reports that Dave Bundy has been rattled by the standoff with federal officials, and he expects there will be "a lot of legal battles" still to come.

In a statement on Sunday, the BLM noted that Bundy still owes the American taxpayers in excess of $1 million, Fox News reports.

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