Just as the price of beef hits record highs the federal government agents have shut down the last Nevada cattle ranch in Clark County.
Armed federal officials and contract cowboys were brought in this week to execute a 2013 court order and remove the trespassing cattle.
“It’s high time for the BLM to do its job and give the [endangered desert] tortoises and the Gold Butte area the protection they need and are legally entitled to,” senior Center for Biological Diversity scientist Rob Mrowka told the Mesquite Local News. “As the tortoises emerge from their winter sleep, they are finding their much-needed food consumed by cattle.”
The herd belonging to Clive Bundy, also hinders the plants’ ability to recover from wildfires, tramples rare species, damages ancient American Indian cultural sites and endangers recreationists, Mrowka added.
The Bureau of Land Management website says Bundy has defied trespass laws for more than two decades, ignored rules and fees that other cattle ranchers have observed and refused “repeated attempts to resolve the matter administratively and judicially,” according to TheBlaze. While Bundy stated that he owed the BLM $300,000 in back grazing fees, spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon put the figure closer to $1.1 million.
Since 1993, Bundy has been battling the agency, as well as the National Park Service, the Center for Biological Diversity and the courts, to graze his cattle on 150 square miles of Gold Butte scrub land in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. He stopped paying his grazing fees back then, saying he “fired” the Bureau of Land Management as land manager. His Mormon ancestors had tilled the unforgiving soil since 1887, long before the 1934 Taylor Grazing Act allowed the federal government to seize control, TheBlaze reported.
“I have raised cattle on that land, which is public land for the people of Clark County, all my life. Why I raise cattle there and why I can raise cattle there is because I have preemptive rights,” he asserted, explaining to TheBlaze that this includes the right to forage, too.
Furthermore, Bundy has argued that it is the United States trespassing on Clark County, Nev., land, not he, and that he is a better steward of the land. He points out that the manure from his cows fertilizes the soil, that he’s built water sources for wildlife, and that his cattle prevent the vegetation from growing overly dense and creating a fire hazard.
The round-up comes at a time when the retail price of beef has hit historic high and is not expected to go down anytime soon.
According to market analyst the extreme weather that hit most of the Midwest and eastern seaboard thinned the nation’s beef cattle herds to levels last seen in 1951, when there were about half as many mouths to feed in America.
“We’ve seen strong prices before but nothing this extreme,” said Dennis Smith, a commodities broker for Archer Financial Services in Chicago. “This is really new territory.”
Ironically the portion of the country that escaped the ‘polar vortex’ was the south west including Nevada.
“We had a great calving season this year,” said Elko County rancher Geoff Dahl. “And with the price of beef this could be one of our best years. Fortunately we don’t use BLM land to raze our herd anymore. Back in the 1960’s and 70’s we had a real good relationship with the agency but things began to change. Instead of public/private partnership it has become hostile and obstructionist to the ranching industry. And a lot of their policies make no sense. They try to stop what they call invasive species except for horses which are protected. Bundy’s family has been ranching in Clark County for over 100 years and the desert tortoise actually depends on cow dung as a major part of its diet.”
“Due to the roundup by the BLM, my office has received numerous complaints of BLM conduct, road closures and other disturbances. I have recently met with state legislators, county officials and concerned citizens to listen to their concerns.” The Nevada governor said in a press release.
“I have expressed those concerns directly to the BLM. Most disturbing to me is the BLM’s establishment of a ‘First Amendment Area’ that tramples upon Nevadans’ fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution.
“To that end, I have advised the BLM that such conduct is offensive to me and countless others and that the ‘First Amendment Area’ should be dismantled immediately.
“No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans.
“The BLM needs to reconsider its approach to this matter and act accordingly.”