"We were dedicated to opening those gates and peacefully walking
through to retrieve those cattle," Ammon Bundy said in an interview.
"The presence of weapons was needed in order to intimidate them."
The federal Bureau of Land Management began a roundup of the cattle
from the Bundy ranch a week ago, contending he owes more than $1
million in back fees, penalties and other costs for grazing his
cattle on public land and has ignored court orders.
Bundy stopped paying monthly grazing fees in 1993. The ranch is
about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
The issue simmered for a week with verbal and physical altercations
and reached a boil on Saturday after nearly 1,000 supporters,
included armed militamen from several western states, rallied on
foot and on horseback with the family.
The four-hour standoff temporarily shut down Interstate 15 and ended
when the bureau stopped rounding up cattle citing safety concerns
and then agreed to return the cows.
The Clark County sheriff Doug Gillespie had delivered a bureau offer
to leave, but keep the cows, and then helped negotiate the eventual
end to the standoff, Bundy said.
"When we went up there, they knew we were serious," Ammon Bundy
said. "They wanted to go. This thing was building and building and
was going to continue."
Bundy said about 350 of the ranch's cows were recovered from bureau
holding pens. Some of the animals were injured, and a handful of
calves, some so new their umbilical cords remained attached, were
being bottle-fed, he said.
Bureau officials could not be reached immediately for comment on
Sunday. In a statement on Saturday, Director Neil Kornze said the
bureau ended the cattle gathering because of serious concerns about
the safety of employees and the public and would work to resolve the
matter administratively and through the courts.
[to top of second column]
About 100 Bundy supporters, many wearing camouflage and carrying
firearms, gathered on Sunday with the family for an informal church
service at a makeshift protest command center.
Speakers offered a mix of prayer and religious testimony, denounced
the federal government for excessive oversight on several issues,
and called for the preservation of individual constitutional rights.
An Arizona state representative in attendance, David Livingston,
said the battle over the Bundy cows would serve as a unifying event
for lawmakers across 11 western states working on state sovereignty
"This was a major tipping point," Livingston said.
Cliven Bundy, 76, said he had been touched by the supporters who
stood by his family over the past week.
"I was really quite humbled to the fact that there are so many good
people," Cliven Bundy said.
(Reporting by Jennifer Dobner; editing by David Bailey and Michael
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