RENO, Nev. —(AP)— Seventy-five cattle seized by the government in a controversial roundup have been quietly moved from a private auction yard in Fallon to a federal corral where wild horses are penned.
Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman JoLynn Worley said her agency has wanted to get the animals out of the auction yard to the Palomino Valley center north of Sparks to lessen disruptions in Fallon by a handful of protesters.
The move comes after the deaths of five cattle in the pens of Fallon Livestock Auction, where 232 cows confiscated by the BLM were taken on July 26 and July 28.
The cattle transported by truck to Palomino Valley were confiscated from ranchers Jack Vogt and Julian Smith during the BLM roundup, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported on Friday.
Cattle remaining at the auction yard included 62 seized from another rancher, Ben Colvin, who is fighting the government action in court. Another 90 taken in the roundup and held at the auction yard are estrays.
``The reason they are moving them is they don't want people watching them die,'' said Jackie Holgren, a rancher opposed to the roundup and subsequent BLM actions.
Worley said three of the dead cows were part of herds confiscated from Vogt and Smith. Worley said the other two were estray animals in state custody.
Worley did not say what killed the cattle. Gary Snow, owner of the auction yard, could not be reached for comment.
``I talked to Mr. Snow,'' Worley said. ``Mr. Vogt's and Mr. Smith's cattle and the estrays had never been corralled before. Any germ that's in there, they are susceptible to.''
The BLM is trying to sell Vogt's and Smith's cattle for what it says are tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid grazing fees and fines.
``Some of these cattle are infected with pinkeye or red nose, shipping fever and pneumonia,'' Vogt said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
The BLM's first sales attempt was unsuccessful when the agency failed to receive minimum bids during an auction at Snow's yard on Aug. 7. The auction attracted about 60 protesters who stood at the yard's parking lot entrance and urged buyers not to bid on the confiscated cattle.
``We have them for sale,'' Worley said. ``They are available. We have talked to a few people, but we haven't finalized anything.''
Worley did not say how long the cows would remain in Palomino Valley.
Holgren and other protesters who dispute federal jurisdiction over public land are urging out-of-state auctioneers not to deal with the BLM.
Colvin, whose ranch is located near Vogt's property in Esmeralda County, obtained a court order preventing the auction of his cattle on Aug. 7.
A hearing was scheduled for Tuesday in Churchill District Court, but U.S. attorneys are seeking to move the proceedings to U.S. District Court in Reno, claiming that state courts should not be interpreting federal grazing laws.
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