Barry Weller of the Apache County, Arizona Board of Supervisors says that Bundy’s actions are entirely within the law. Referring to a Nevada court case won by Wayne Hage, who argued that he had the right to graze his cows on federal land because it was within two miles of water sources he had developed, Weller says:
The Bundys and the Hages are standing on what’s called their water rights and their grazing rights [which] were pre-existing in territorial times, long before the government took over and these states became states and these water rights are mentioned, and any federal law or policy act that comes thereafter is always stated, ‘subject to pre-existing rights.’ So, when people say they’re not legally doing what they’re doing, they are. They are doing what they’re supposed to be doing: standing for their rights.
Instead, Weller says, the federal government was engaged in what he calls a “criminal shakedown” for payment:
That was absolutely deadly force. … Several cattle were killed as they rounded them up and pulled them into the BLM pens. It’s just a devastation of force.