Cattle once seized by the BLM run toward the Bundy ranch after being released April 12, 2014. (FOX5)
On April 12, 2014, protesters, some on horses, gather at a pen where cattle seized by the BLM were being held. Traffic on the bridge above is stopped. (FOX5)
Cliven Bundy talks to supporters April 11, 2014, about the gathering of his cattle by the Bureau of Land Management. (FOX5)
BUNKERVILLE, NV (FOX5) -
The Bureau of Land Management announced Saturday it has released the cattle it seized this week as part of a roundup of bovine it said were trespassing on federal land.
The decision to "conclude" the herding operation by Neil Kornze, the agency's director, was made after a week of protests at the Bunkerville ranch of Cliven Bundy.
BLM said Bundy has refused to pay grazing fees for more than a decade, but Bundy has maintained that his family was using the land long before the BLM arrived.
Since the start of the round up, protesters have voiced their displeasure with the BLM. The story gained national attention after video surfaced on YouTube, showing a clash between protesters and BLM rangers. It showed the rangers using Tasers. Some protesters have said they have been injured in scuffles with the rangers during the ordeal.
Kornze said in a written statement Saturday that a concern about safety has prompted the decision to end the roundup.
"Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public," Kornze said in the statement.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said he was pleased with the BLM's decision.
"Given the circumstances, today's outcome is the best we could have hoped for," Sandoval said in a written statement. "I appreciate that the Department of the Interior and the BLM were willing to listen to the concerns of the people of Nevada."
By Saturday afternoon, the BLM sent a second statement saying it had released the cattle it seized this week.
"This afternoon, demonstrators gathered at the area where personnel and cattle were located," BLM officials said in the second statement. "Due to escalating tensions, the cattle have been released from the enclosures in order to avoid violence and help restore order."
Kornze said BLM will continue to work with the courts to recover the $1 million in grazing fees that Bundy owes.
Copyright 2014 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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