Earlier today efgoldman asked about what was happening with Cliven Bundy’s cows.
The short answer is that the BLM, coordinating with the Department of Justice, is trying to figure out what to do with them. They are still under a seizure order from a Federal court due to the unpaid grazing fees and the overdue fines on those fees.
However, BLM has several concerns:
1) There are still Bundys and their supporters at his Bunkerville Ranch and in the surrounding communities that could place BLM personnel at risk.
2) In relation to item 1, Cliven Bundy has sent violently threatening letters to many of the companies that BLM would contract with to do the removal, transport, and/or house the cattle. So none of the companies want to get involved. This is almost a textbook example of the state level crime known as terrorizing/making terroristic threats.
3) The cattle are a special breed of Brahman, imported from India, that can handle high heat, little water, and sparse vegetation. They are also known for having particularly unpleasant dispositions and have been compared to Cape Buffalo. So they are naturally smart and ornery and Bundy has essentially let them go feral. So this isn’t like rounding up the normal, dimwitted cows we often see on TV. Rather it is trying to round up large, nasty, smart, aggressive, feral animals. And trying to do so in harsh conditions with a potential threat of human directed violence against those doing the round up.
4) It is also important to remember that Bundy doesn’t brand his cattle – it is estimated that 3/4 of his herd (approximately 750 out of 1,000 total) are unbranded. Nor has he taken proper care of them. So in addition to being feral, and a specialty breed, because they’ve not had proper veterinary care there is no telling what they are carrying disease wise. This means that bringing them anywhere where they can come into contact with other ranchers’ cattle, or even people, is not a good idea. In order to do this right they would have to a) round them up, b) transport them in a controlled manner to a containment facility – at this point they become temporary property/in custody of the State of Nevada, c) have each cow evaluated by a veterinarian, d) go through a complete course of treatment for whatever they might have, e) be reevaluated to make sure they’re disease free, and then finally to f) be made available for auction with the proceeds going to pay off Cliven Bundy’s outstanding grazing fees and the fines and interest that has accrued on them. That last step of putting them up for auction only comes after Cliven Bundy is given a chance to pay his overdue fees and the fines and the court costs to reclaim his cattle. If he refuses to do so, or fails to do so, the BLM can apply to the State of Nevada Brand Inspector to sell the unbranded cattle. If the application is approved the cattle can then, finally be auctioned, but only the approximately 750 or so without brands. I do not know what happens to the remaining branded cattle.
It is important to keep in mind that Bundy owes over a million dollars in fees, fines, and court costs, but his 1,000 head herd is only valued at around $800,000 and only the unbranded 3/4 (750) can be auctioned or sold to recoup the fees and fines. So that reduces the estimated value of a sale to about $600,000. The estimates of a round up are right around the same price as the estimated value of all of Bundy’s cattle. So no matter what happens he’s going to cost the taxpayers more money than can be recouped in settling the matter. I’ve not seen anyone provide an estimate on damage his cattle has cost, or even how that money could be recouped, but it probably raises the financial stakes here a lot as well.
Since all of the above is a real pain in the tookhas, right now no one is doing anything but monitoring the situation. Some of it is that I’m not really sure anyone really knows the best way to go about all of the above so that Cliven Bundy and his cattle don’t cost the taxpayer any more money than they already have. You’re only other option is to basically slaughter the entire herd where they currently are, which I’m pretty sure is not legal at all.