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Carol Bundy said five officials took Dave and “threw him on the ground.”

“One put his knee on his head, the other put his boot on his head and pushed him into the gravel,” she said. “He’s got quite a bruised head. Just bruised him up pretty good.”

Environmentalists are praising the government’s forceful actions, which are being taken to protect the “desert tortoise.”

“We’re heartened and thankful that the agencies are finally living up to their stewardship duty,” said Rob Mrowka, a Nevada-based senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Gold Butte area has been officially designated as critical habitat for threatened tortoises — meaning the area is essential to their long-term survival as a species.”

“[Cliven] Bundy has long falsely believed that Gold Butte is his ranch,” added Terri Robertson, president of Friends of Sloan Canyon.

The BLM designated 186,909 acres of the Gold Butte off-limits for the “critical desert tortoise” population in 1998. Bundy had already lost his grazing permit five years earlier for refusing to pay fees for the land, which his family has ranched since the 1870s.

The “federal grazing fee” is $1.35 per “Animal Unit Month,” or the amount of forage needed per animal, each month. Bundy said he owes roughly $300,000 in back fees, while the BLM asserts he owes over $1 million. The BLM defended the removal because Bundy did not “voluntarily” give up his cattle.

“We’ve tried to do this through the legal and we’ve tried to do it through the political, and what we’re at right now, I guess we’re going to have to try to stand,” Cliven Bundy said. “We the people have to stand on the ground and get our state sovereignty back, and also take some liberty and freedoms back to where we have at least access to this land.”

“The story is a lot about the cattle, but the bigger story is about our loss of freedom,” Carol Bundy added. “They have come and taken over this whole corner of the county. They’ve taken over policing power, they’ve taken over our freedom, and they’re stealing cattle.”

“And our sheriff says he just doesn’t have authority, our governor says he doesn’t have authority, and we’re saying, why are we a state?”

“I’m a producer,” Cliven Bundy said. “I produce edible commodity from the desert forage, and all of these things are governed under state law. So, in other words, this type of government has eliminated all of our state law, eliminated our state sovereignty, and has took control over our public lands and even took control over our Clark County sheriff. They’ve taken the whole county over. The whole state, almost.”

“This is just about power of the government,” Carol Bundy said.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R.) voiced his concern about so-called “First Amendment Areas,” designated locations set up by the BLM where citizens can protest the removal.

“Most disturbing to me is the BLM’s establishment of a ‘First Amendment Area’ that tramples upon Nevadans’ fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

“To that end, I have advised the BLM that such conduct is offensive to me and countless others and that the ‘First Amendment Area’ should be dismantled immediately,” he said. “No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans. The BLM needs to reconsider its approach to this matter and act accordingly.”

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