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AP: ap_9bbffed73de5170e510f6a7067008372
Cliven Bundy, right, sits in the back of a vehicle near Bunkerville, Nev., Friday, April 11, 2014. The area has become the center of a protest against the Bureau of Land Management's roundup of cattle owned by Bundy. Bundy claims ancestral rights to graze his cattle on lands his Mormon family settled in the 19th century. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher)

Federal land managers abruptly ended a roundup of cattle on public land in southern Nevada from a rancher who has refused to recognize their authority, citing a "serious concern" for the safety of employees and the public.

Bureau of Land Management chief Neil Kornze made the announcement Saturday morning at the same time armed militia members and others gathered near the roundup site to protest the removal of hundreds of Cliven Bundy's cattle.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the crowd then mobilized to force the BLM to free cattle already seized and were en route to a BLM corral outside Mesquite.

Republican U.S. Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada issued a statement asking the crowd to return home and allow BLM employees to leave without interference.

Some 400 cows were gathered during the roundup that began a week ago, short of the BLM's goal of 900 cows that it says were trespassing on public land.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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