A new standoff may be on the horizon as environmental groups are urging the federal government to seize Cliven Bundy's cattle, which the controversial Nevada rancher has let graze freely for years in defiance of federal land-use restrictions, the Guardian reported.
A coalition of wildlife organizations wrote the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Monday, the paper said, complaining the cattle grazing has been "adversely impacting the federally threatened Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) and its habitat on BLM managed lands of southern Nevada and northern Arizona."
The demand comes three months after a federal grand jury in Nevada indicted Bundy and four others on 16 charges related to an armed standoff near his ranch in 2014 over unpaid grazing fees, which attracted armed Bundy supporters and led to stand down by federal authorities.
Such was not the case after Bundy's sons, Ammon and Ryan, led a standoff on federal lands in Oregon in January, which culminated in the shooting death of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum.
While the BLM told the Guardian there aren't any plans to round up Bundy's cattle, the environmental groups want quick action, stating in their five-page letter that the "BLM must not wait to act to protect the desert tortoise. The cattle should be rounded up and removed from these public lands no later than summer 2016.”
Cattle belonging to Cliven Bundy are rounded up with a helicopter near Bunkerville, Nevada, April 7, 2014. The Bureau of Land Management rounded up what they called "trespass cattle" that rancher Cliven Bundy has been grazing in the Gold Butte area 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher)
Angie Bundy — wife of Ryan Bundy, one of the jailed activists — told the Guardian that it wouldn't surprise her if authorities moved to round up her family's cattle: “I really believe they’ve conveniently put our men in jails so they can come after our land and our resources.”
Rob Mrowka, senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, told the paper that besides the issues surrounding the Mojave desert tortoise, there also is concern over the welfare of Bundy's cattle.
But Bailey Logue, one of Bundy' daughters, told the Guardian that the cattle are in “great health.”
“Us women know how to ranch just like the guys do," she told the paper. "The ranch is in great hands.”
In addition, the Bundy family members still at his ranch are convinced that if federal authorities came their way, they'd see supporters emerge again to defend their land and cattle.
“We’re not afraid,” Angie Bundy told the Guardian. “If you have a bunch of women and children standing out there and protesting, it’ll probably get more people out.”