Motion to Halt NV Wild Horse Roundup Denied


The following is from The Associated Press:

By Martin Griffith

RENO, Nev.—A federal judge Friday refused to grant an emergency injunction to halt a government roundup of about 1,700 wild horses from the range in Nevada.

U.S. District Judge Howard McKibben’s ruling paves the way for the federal Bureau of Land Management to begin removing the mustangs Saturday from public lands in the sprawling Triple B Complex near the Utah line.

The judge disagreed with the Colorado-based horse advocacy group Cloud Foundation, which contends the roundup would violate the 1971 Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act because the BLM failed to prove the herds there are overpopulated and causing ecological harm to public rangeland.

The herds have grown by nearly 1,600 horses since the last roundup in the complex in July 2006, McKibben said, and the range and herd itself will suffer if the population continues to grow at a 20 to 25 percent annual rate without BLM intervention.

“Plaintiffs have failed to show that a gather of this magnitude is not warranted in order to protect the rangeland habitat and maintain a thriving, natural ecological balance,” the judge wrote. “The historical evidence before this court strongly supports the conclusion that the gather will benefit the horses rather than harm them, as fewer horses competing for limited resources will mean a healthier herd.”

McKibben noted the high-desert complex has scarce water sources and the BLM has hauled several truckloads of water to it since June for the mustangs.

Attorney Rachel Fazio, who represents the Cloud Foundation, said she was disappointed by the ruling and planned to file an emergency motion asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on the request for an emergency injunction as soon as possible.

“At some point I hope the judiciary will step in and enforce the law,” she told The Associated Press. “I’m asking them to issue a ruling as soon as Saturday or as soon after that as possible.”

BLM spokesman Doran Sanchez said the agency planned to begin the roundup Saturday morning in the sprawling area where officials said the mustang population is five times greater than what the range can support.

“Obviously, the BLM is very pleased with the decision of the court,” he said. “This will help us protect the rangelands, the remaining wild horses out there, and wildlife and permitted livestock.”

The 1,700 horses targeted for roundup are among an estimated 2,200 that roam a series of horse management areas covering a total of 1.7 million acres southeast of Elko and northwest of Ely in eastern Nevada. BLM officials maintain the area can only sustain between 500 and 900 horses.

The lawsuit, filed by the Cloud Foundation and activists Craig Downer of Nevada and Lorna Moffat of California, accuses the BLM of managing the land primarily for livestock and ignoring the federal law’s directive to manage the land “devoted to mustangs and burros principally for their welfare.”

But McKibben said changes to livestock grazing allotments must be made through a separate process outlined under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

“Because the public lands must be managed with multiple uses in mind, the court concludes that the BLM’s decision to allocate the resources as it has done in this case is not arbitrary, capricious or contrary to law,” he wrote, adding the 1971 federal law doesn’t give horses priority over other species on the range.

The bureau annually removes thousands of horses from the range in the West and sends them to holding pens, where they are prepared for adoption or transfer to long-term corrals in the Midwest.

About 33,000 wild horses roam freely in 10 Western states, with about half the animals in Nevada. An additional 40,000 horses are kept in government-funded facilities.


Source:  The Associated Press

Posted by Haylie Shipp


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