BLM releases cattle to Bundy

LAS VEGAS -- A deal has been reached between Bundy family leaders and the Bureau of Land Management, but not without some very tense moments.

Armed Bundy family leaders met with BLM officers Saturday afternoon in Mesquite to discuss the fate of the Bundy's cattle that the feds removed from BLM land, over the past week.

Under the deal the cattle were released from a holding area near Mesquite, back onto the federal lands they were removed from.

However, according to the BLM, the deal does not absolve Bundy from any of the fees he owes for having the animals there in the first place.

Rancher Cliven Bundy is not describing it as a deal, but as the American citizens taking back the cattle. 

"There is no deal here. The citizens of America and Clark County went and took their cattle. There was no negotiations. They took these cattle. They are in possession of these cattle and I expect them to come home soon," Bundy said.

Prior to the meeting, hundreds of protesters, some armed, tried storming the BLM's cattle gate, but weren't successful. The crowd was urged to wait 30 minutes and give both sides a chance to talk.

At one point, I-15 was closed in both directions, about seven miles south of Mesquite, because protesters had blocked the freeway. Nearly two dozen police officers and a SWAT unit were at the scene to keep the peace and assist the BLM enforcement officers to safely leave the area.

"We had a lot of fears. Individuals being shot, trampled. Individuals being run over on the highway. So it took a lot of resources, a lot of resources to associate with this," Assistant Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said. 

Protesters have been gathering all week in support of Bundy, who has been locked in a legal battle for the past 20 years over grazing rights with the federal government

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It was announced Saturday morning that Sheriff Douglas Gillespie, Bundy and the BLM were able to reach an agreement over the cattle the BLM has already removed from the federal property. 

In its statement about ending the roundup, the agency said concerns about the safety of its employees and the public were behind ending the gathering. 

Earlier this week, BLM officers and supporters of the Bundy family were involved in a scuffle. Cliven Bundy's son, Ammon Bundy, was tased twice by federal agents. Another woman said she was thrown to the ground by an officer.

With more Bundy supporters pouring in from around the country, safety concerns began to grow.

Sheriff Gillespie has been negotiating with Bundy behind the scenes for months and reached a tentative agreement Friday night, though Bundy insisted the sheriff come to his ranch to finalize the arrangement face-to-face.

In its statement, the BLM said its actions this past week were progress in enforcing two court orders to remove the trespassing cattle from public land.

The agency director also asked that everyone involved in the dispute remain peaceful and law-abiding.

This is a developing story. Please refresh this page for updates.


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