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The last rancher in southern Nevada has won a battle over the federal government's round up of his cattle on public land after a week-long standoff with agents.
The Bureau of Land Management announced today that it would stop trying to seize the cattle of Cliven Bundy after armed militia gathered in Nevada.
Shortly after the deal was agreed, about 100 armed protesters, some on horse back, headed to a corral to demand the BLM also hands back cattle it had already taken.
Armed members of the BLM and the Bundy family were also reported to be involved in tense talks about the cattle.
Deal: Cliven Bundy shakes hands with Sheiff Doug Gillespie as the rancher comes to a deal to stop federal agents rounding up his cattle
Show down: Ranchers on horseback and protesters gather at the base camp. A group about 100 strong are reportedly heading to the corral to force the BLM to release the cattle it already rounded up
As it announced earlier today that it was backing off, the BLM said it did so because it feared for the safety of employees and members of the public.
Despite the week-long protest being called off, there were claims that nearly two dozen police and a SWAT team were waiting on the road near the encampment.
There have been no threats of violence from the protesters, who were asked to leave any guns they may have in their vehicles before coming to the camp.
In previous days, men carrying AK-47s and handguns had been pictured at the camp in southern Nevada that was set up in protest at the bureau's attempt to confiscate cattle from Bundy, whose family has been working the land for centuries.
The BLM had offered to pay Bundy for the cattle it has already rounded up, but protesters are demanding they are released to the rancher.
The cattle are being held in a corral near Mesquite, close to where the SWAT team were spotted.
About an hour after Bundy agreed a deal with the county sheriff, about 100 protesters, some armed and on horseback, headed to the corral.
Nevada Police have pleaded with drivers to avoid the highway from Las Vegas to Mesquite, as protesters swelled out across the road, causing it to be cut off in both directions.
The BLM has said its agents will not be able to leave until protesters are at a safe distance, according to 8 News Now.
The station reported that members of the Bundy family and the BLM were meeting to discuss the fate of the cattle, and that both sides are armed.
Brothers in arms: Rancher Cliven Bundy (2nd R) is escorted Friday by militia members in Bunkerville, Nevada
Armed: Brand Thornton, of Las Vegas, blows a shofar on a hillside above a protest area near Bunkerville, Nev. Friday, April 11, 2014. Thorton joined others to protest the Bureau of Land Management's cattle roundup owned by Cliven Bundy
The dispute that triggered the roundup dates to 1993, when the BLM cited concern for the federally protected tortoise. The agency later revoked grazing rights for Bundy, who is the last rancher in Clark County.
BLM director Neil Kornze said on Saturday however: 'Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public.'
Bundy claims ancestral rights to graze his cattle on lands his Mormon family settled in the 19th century. He stopped paying grazing fees and disregarded several court orders to remove his animals.
BLM officials say Bundy now owes more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees.
'I have no contract with the United States government. I was paying grazing fees for management and that's what BLM was supposed to be, land managers and they were managing my ranch out of business, so I refused to pay,' the rancher told ABC News.
Supporters for Bundy said about 300 protesters had arrived to help campaign on the rancher's behalf. The BLM put the number at 100.
The protest came to an end after Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie brokered a deal with Bundy.
The sheriff has been negotiating with the rancher for months, and the pair met at the ranch today to finalize the deal, according to 8 News Now.
Defiant: With a sidearm strapped to his side, Anthony Herrea stands along a protest area while rancher Cliven Bundy's son, Ammon Bundy grimaces as he shows taser marks on his chest
On his side: Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), pictured last week, has risen to Bundy's side and called the BLM's efforts 'overreaching'
Taking a stand: Ammon Bundy (back C), son of rancher Cliven Bundy, talks Friday to protesters at the property
The BLM is reportedly keen to go ahead with the sale of cattle it has rounded up, but is said to be willing to share the profits with Bundy.
As the protest became heated earlier this week, a Republican U.S. Senator and Nevada's governor spoke out in favor of a rancher fighting efforts by federal agents to seize both his land and his cattle.
Sen Dean Heller, of Nevada, says he told U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) head Neil Kornze that law-abiding Nevadans such as rancher Cliven Bundy shouldn't be penalized by an 'overreaching' agency.
Governor Buran Sandoval, also a Republican, previously spoke out against the actions, saying they are leading to an 'atmosphere of intimidation.'
The round-up: Bureau of Land Management vehicles are seen Friday near a corral with cattle outside Bunkerville, Nevada
JOining the cause: Steven Kelly (R) talks on a phone as he stands by a protest signs he posted on his house as his soon Sean Kelly (L), looks on west of Mesquite, Nevada
In Arizona, a congressman said he and several state Republican lawmakers may travel to Bunkerville to protest what they perceive as government heavy-handedness.
Arizona state representative Bob Thorpe, of Flagstaff, said he and state legislators weren't arguing whether Bundy broke laws or violated grazing agreements.
Thorpe said the Arizona lawmakers were upset the BLM initially restricted protesters to so-called free speech zones.
Senator Dean Heller and Governor Brian Sandoval, both Republicans, have also said they were upset with the way the BLM was conducting the roundup.
The remarks came as video emerged of Ammon Bundy, the son of Cliven Bundy, was shown being repeatedly shot with a taser and threatened by police dogs.
The confrontation took place Wednesday and was caught on video by Bundy supporters and relatives who got into an aggressive- and at times violent- face off with the officers.
Militias that have streamed into the tiny town just north of Lake Mead told News 8 Now they feel violence is imminent as tempers flare in the desert heat.
'We want to get ourselves between this family and these federal agents,' said Brand Thornton, of the Southern Nevada Militia. 'We have pretty strong feelings that this could erupt in violence.'