(LAS VEGAS, KXNT)–Nevada U.S. Senator Harry Reid says he will not second-guess the decision by BLM to withdraw from the cattle round-up that has been at the center of a federal dispute with a Bunkerville rancher, but said rancher Clivon Bundy is a lawbreaker and that the law should be followed.
Reid made his comments during a walking tour of downtown Las Vegas with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.
He says Bundy has defied the law. “Even the Nevada Cattleman’s Association, one of the most conservative organizations in the country, they dont support whats going on here. They want people to follow the law, just like we all do”, said Reid.
Speaking to KXNT’s Fred Halstied about the armed groups that descended on Bunkerville last weekend, Reid said,”Its unfortunate that people have decided to get involved in something that is supporting someone breaking the law.”
BLM says that Bundy owes more than a million dollars in unpaid grazing fees and fines. His cattle have trespassed on protected federal lands and Bundy has racked up additional fines. Twice in the past, BLM moved to have the cattle rounded up, but backed away when friends and family of the rancher intimated there would be violence.
The scenario played out again in recent days when BLM, acting on previous court orders, began sealing off more than a half million acres of federal land–restricting public access, including hikers and visitors–in order to begin rounding up an estimated 900 head of cattle. Part way through the roundup, supporters of Bundy, which include militias and anti-government groups, began gathering in the area about 80 miles north of Las Vegas.
Last Saturday, BLM agents backed away after Sheriff Doug Gillespie intervened to broker a truce to avoid violence.
About 400 head of herded cattle were then returned to Bundy.