Some legalistic conservatives aren’t jumping to the defense of Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and his recent standoff with the federal government. They’d rather focus on the fact that he broke federal law by not paying taxes for permitting his cattle to graze on 150 square miles of scrub desert overseen by the federal government. Such a shallow analysis fails to take into account the facts during the years leading up to the showdown, as well as other laws that may likely exonerate him.
Bundy paid grazing taxes until 1993, when federal grazing rules were restricted in the Gold Butte and Bunkerville areas of Nevada for the dubious reason of protecting the desert tortoise. The desert tortoise is listed as vulnerable, not endangered, despite virtually every media article hysterically referring to it as “endangered.” It is not clear how grazing cattle threatens the desert tortoise. Even more bizarre, it has been revealed that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has shot many of the desert tortoises it claims to protect.
Infuriated by the federal government instituting these draconian environmental regulations in 1993, Bundy insisted on paying grazing fees to local government instead of the feds, so his money wouldn’t be used against him, but Clark County declined. After that, Bundy says the federal government overreach drove every other rancher in the area out of business except him. He owns the last large cattle ranch remaining in Clark County. The feds now own 84 percent of the land in Nevada, and large portions of other Western states, including a massive 96 percent of the land in Alaska.