Bunkerville, Nevada

By Jim Urquhart

“I’ve got a clear shot at four of them,” the man with a rifle beside me said, as he aimed his weapon in the direction of U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officers.

We were on a bridge in southern Nevada in the midst of a tense standoff between the BLM and a group of angry ranchers, milita-members and gun-rights activists. It seemed as if we were a hair’s breadth away from Americans killing Americans right in front of me.

This showdown had come after the BLM started rounding up cattle belonging to rancher Cliven Bundy, who had been letting his animals graze illegally on federal land for over 20 years.

Bundy had stopped paying grazing fees in 1993, and said he didn’t recognise the government’s authority over the land. When the BLM came to take his herd, many people, furious at federal government or wanting to express their gun rights, rallied to Bundy’s cause.

My colleague Jennifer Dobner and I had originally set out several days earlier to cover a story involving the BLM and ranchers in southern Utah, but as tension rose between Bundy’s supporters and U.S. officials here in Bunkerville, Nevada, we headed over to document the story.