Activists seek humane treatment for livestock stranded in desert by outlaw rancher Cliven Bundy

Cattle grazing continues to degrade vast tracts of public lands in the West. PHOTO COURTESY BLM.
Activists shine spotlight on abandoned livestock in Nevada desert. Photo courtesy BLM.

Activists launch online petition launched to spur action

Staff Report

Feral cattle that may be descended from livestock owned by outlaw rancher Cliven Bundy is roaming the Nevada desert, and activists say the cows deserve humane treatment. To that end, they’ve launched an online petition to focus national attention on the fate of the cattle.

The petition claims the cows are descendants of cattle owned by Cliven Bundy, who lost his grazing privileges in the early 1990s yet continued to graze in defiance of federal regulations, laws and court orders for decades, leading to the infamous Bundy Ranch standoff, when federal agents backed away from a confrontation with the outlaw over his failure to pay grazing fees.

According to the petition, the cattle are ranging across thousands of square miles of desert and aren’t getting enough food.

“The primary concern involves any animals that may be in distress, given the numbers quoted and the environment”, said Annoula Wylderich, a local animal welfare advocate. “While this is perhaps the ideal season for foraging, summer is not far behind with our triple-digit temperatures,” Wylderich said.

“This issue is about the stewardship responsibilities of our federal and state agencies. Taking into consideration the treatment of the cattle during past roundups, we feel this is not the ideal approach, and strongly urge for an invitation to be extended to animal welfare organizations for assistance with providing immediate assistance to any animals requiring medical care, euthanasia, or sustenance while a humane resolution is determined.”

The Bureau of Land Management has not addressed the welfare and plight of these animals for more than 20 years. The State of Nevada has done even less, despite admitting ownership of a majority of the animals and having legal responsibilities under state laws.

“Since BLM’s inexcusable dawdling has gotten cattle and the desert tortoise into this mess, the onus falls on the BLM to get them out, and to do so humanely,” said Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director.

“These cattle are competing with native wildlife in the area for food”, said Rob Mrowka, a senior scientist working for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Whatever vegetation the livestock eat, is vegetation that is not available for desert tortoise and other native wildlife for nourishment as well as for cover from predators. I am very familiar with wildland grazing, and even in the best of circumstances, legitimate ranchers rotate their grazing to give the land a rest and to allow the grasses to regrow, and neither is happening on Gold Butte.”


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