Nevada rancher and states' rights advocate Cliven Bundy says contract researchers for the federal Bureau of Land Management had no business being on land where he grazes cattle, but denies he or his supporters fired gunshots near them.

Three employees of a nonprofit Nevada organization told authorities they were monitoring water sources in the remote Gold Butte area, about 100 miles northeast of Las Vegas, on June 5 when they were approached by two men who asked what they were doing.

The researchers left after six shots were fired later that night near their camp in an area that's being considered for federal protection as a national conservation area.

Bundy says he and his son, Ryan, encountered the trio on June 5, but didn't learn about the shooting until nearly a week later.