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Standoff rancher draws advocates' ire, supporters' cheers

Rancher Cliven Bundy speaks at Metropolitan Police Department headquarters two days after federal charges were dismissed against him in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. Bundy, the Nevada rancher and states’ rights figure who was freed after federal charges were dismissed in a 2014 armed standoff with government agents says the county sheriff and the governor are the only authorities he recognizes. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

LAS VEGAS — The Nevada rancher who led a 2014 armed standoff with government agents spoke Wednesday saying that it's up to people in states, not the federal officials, to manage vast expanses of rangeland in the U.S. West.

To conservative followers, the plainspoken 71-year-old Cliven Bundy is an icon. He told them he's angry after spending nearly 23 months in jail before and during a trial that ended in mistrial three weeks ago. He was freed Monday.

But conservation advocates characterized Bundy as an outlaw who escaped justice, and called for federal land managers to again round up and remove Bundy cattle from what is now Gold Butte National Monument.

"The Trump administration is coddling violent zealots and preventing the public from feeling safe to enjoy our new national monument," said Patrick Donnelly, Center for Biological Diversity director in Nevada.

Leaders of a coalition of public lands supporters said separately that they believe people are afraid to visit the national monument near the Bundy homestead outside Bunkerville.

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