BLM on Tuesday to auction cattle seized from Nevada rancher

RENO - After being shouted down by critics who thwarted the last sale, the Bureau of Land Management will take confidential, written bids when it tries again Tuesday to auction off cattle seized from a Nevada rancher accused of illegal grazing.

``We want to see if we can keep the tone down and give people who want to bid an opportunity to do it without any kind of harassment, that kind of thing,'' BLM spokeswoman JoLynn Worley said Friday.

Members of the Nevada Committee for Full Statehood and other critics of the BLM's seizure of the 62 cattle from Nevada rancher Ben Colvin protested the BLM's attempted sale at a Fallon auction yard in August, shouting out their opposition and urging potential buyers to forgo bidding.

The case has been tied up in both state and federal court. But U.S. District Judge David Hagen in Reno last week dismissed the ranchers' attempt to block the sale in federal court.

While it's not clear if additional appeals await in state court, Hagen's ruling reaffirmed the BLM's belief it has the authority to sell the cattle, Worley said Friday.

The agency shipped the cattle last weekend from Fallon to the agency's National Wild Horse and Bureau Center at Palomino Valley just north of Reno.

The BLM posted a legal notice in the Reno Gazette-Journal on Friday announcing the 42 cows, 10 heifers, seven calves, one male calf and two bulls that were ``impounded on public lands'' in July would be offered by public sale to the highest bidder at the horse and burro center Tuesday.

Prospective bidders will view the cattle from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and submit bids until noon. Bids will be announced afterward, the BLM said.

BLM officials accused Colvin of repeatedly trespassing his cattle on federal lands and excessively grazing the lands without a legal permit.

Colvin, 63, and his allies maintain that the water rights he owns for the land entitles him to the forage and that the federal government has no authority over his cattle.

A family member at Colvin's ranch in Goldfield said he was out of state Friday and not immediately available for comment.

About 50 protesters picketed the auction yard in Fallon in August, waving Nevada state flags and carrying signs that read ``Ranchers are an Endangered Species,'' ``BLM Cattle Rustlers'' and ``Kiss My Bill of Rights.''

Worley said the agency anticipated more protests Tuesday.

``I don't know that the mood has changed as far as the people who were protesting, but we do expect to receive some bids,'' she said.


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