Photos of a standoff

Armed militia members join a Nevada rancher to protest a cattle roundup from public land.

  • Rancher Cliven Bundy greets supporters before a roadside church service at a protest site in Bunkerville, Nev. April 13, 2014, the day before the U.S. Bureau of Land Management called off an effort to round up Bundy’s herd of cattle that it had said were illegally grazed for decades, citing concerns about safety.

    Jim Urquhart/ Reuters
  • Protesters retreat from the BLM’s base camp, where the cattle that were seized from rancher Cliven Bundy are being held. The conflict between Bundy and U.S. land managers had brought a team of armed federal rangers to Nevada to seize the 1,000 head of cattle.

    Jim Urquhart/Reuters
  • Rancher Cliven Bundy talks on stage beside Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie (third from the left, on stage) in Bunkerville, April 12. Gillespie announced the BLM was ceasing its cattle roundup operation. Armed U.S. rangers had been rounding up cattle on federal land before this photograph.

    Jim Urquhart/Reuters
  • Protesters yell at law enforcement officers near the BLM’s base camp where Bundy’s cattle were being held, April 12. Contracted federal agents were present to preserve public safety, the safety of BLM officials rounding up cattle, and to maintain the temporary road block next to federal land.

    Jim Urquhart/Reuters
  • Eric Parker from central Idaho aims his weapon from a bridge as protesters gather by the BLM’s base camp, where cattle were being held, April 12. Members of anti-government militia groups from several surrounding states came to Nevada to protest the cattle round-up.

    Jim Urquhart/Reuters
  • Reportedly hundreds of protesters gather at the BLM’s base camp, where cattle were being held, April 12. Several U.S. military flags appear in the crowd.

    Jim Urquhart/Reuters
  • Protesters watch as cattle that belonged to rancher Cliven Bundy are released, April 12. U.S. officials ended a stand-off with hundreds of armed protesters, releasing several hundred of the 1,000 total animals back onto federal land.

    Jim Urquhart/Reuters
  • Protest signs on a fence in Bunkerville, Nev., April 11. The recent events are part of a long history of anti-federal government movements in Western states.

    Jim Urquhart/Reuters
  • U.S. Rangers man a temporary roadblock in Bunkerville, Nev., April 11, while the BLM rounds up trespass cattle.

    Jim Urquhart/Reuters

 

After 20 years of allowing his cattle to illegally graze on federally-owned public land, last month Cliven Bundy was finally faced with a federal action to remove his livestock from the Gold Butte area of southern Nevada. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management had planned for the roundup to last over a month and to collect about 1,000 cattle, but after just 16 days, it came to an abrupt end on Saturday April 12. The BLM released an estimated 300 cattle it had rounded up, back onto the public land.

This reversal came as a result of hundreds of Bundy supporters, including out-of-state armed militia, arriving to protest the roundup and confront federal agents. According the BLM, the agency stopped the roundup in order to avoid an outbreak of violence that appeared imminent as tensions ran high among protestors.

Bundy stopped paying grazing fees to the federal government in 1993, when desert tortoise conservation priorities altered the terms of his grazing allotment. By 1997, Clark County had purchased all remaining grazing permits in the Gold Butte area in accordance with their Desert Conservation Program and permanently closed the area to grazing. But from 1993 to 2014, Bundy’s cattle continued to graze, despite two court orders to remove them and nearly $1 million in unpaid fees and fines.

An estimated 1,000 Bundy cattle continue to illegally roam the area.

Text by Christi Turner, who is an editorial intern at High Country News. She tweets @christi_mada.