In this ongoing story surrounding cattle rancher Cliven Bundy, there are a series of questions media has ignored. For instance, in the 20 years Bundy hasn’t been paying his fees, why hasn’t he been taken to court? Why this year, spend nearly $1,000,000 of taxpayer money to round up 400 cattle that ultimately have to be returned? Why didn’t the BLM just place a lien on the cattle rather than attempting to take them by force and then auction them off? The Bureau of Land Management has suffered a huge black eye this week because of their response to the Bundy situation. Perhaps though, there is a reason the BLM chose force over the courts.
In an exclusive interview with Benswann.com, Montana cattle rancher Todd Devlin says the BLM is now considering new ways of dealing with the Cliven Bundy situation. Devlin is not just a Montana cattle rancher, but is also a County Commissioner in Prairie County Montana. He has also worked with the Department of Interior, having taught workshops for the agency in the past. Monday, Devlin reached out to his contacts in the Department of the Interior to find out why the Bureau of Land Management has refused to work with Bundy rather than simply attempting to run over him.
Among the questions Devlin asked of the BLM, “Is it possible that this guy (Cliven Bundy) has prescriptive rights?” The response from top officials at the BLM, “We are worried that he might, and he might use that defense.”
So what exactly are prescriptive rights? Prescriptive right to property is an easement that gives some one the right to use land owned by someone else for a particular purpose. An example is using a path through Party A’s land to get to your land; a prescriptive easement is allowed which gives the user the right to get to his land through A’s property.
In most states, if a trespass or use of land occurs regularly for at least 5 years without the “owner” of the land taking legal action, prescriptive rights come into play. Because Bundy stopped paying his grazing fees to the BLM in 1993, but continued to use the land for over 20 years, it is possible he now has prescriptive rights to the land. That might explain why the BLM has not taken this issue to court and never bothered to file a lien against the cattle.