State Court Fights Against Wild Horse Roundups

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Wednesday at 5 p.m., Judge Larry R. Hicks of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada issued a restraining order against the Department of Interior stating that “defendants are prohibited from carrying out the gathering of any wild horses from within the Owyhee, Rock Creek and Little Humboldt Herd Management Areas in the northwest of Elko County, Nevada, until further order of the court.” A hearing is scheduled for Thursday July 15 at 2:30 PM.

On July 13, plaintiff Laura Leigh, a Nevada writer and artist, filed a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) seeking an injunction to prevent the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from carrying out the roundup of wild horses in the Owyhee Complex. At an initial July 13 hearing, BLM explained that the gather was previously scheduled and had been postponed to, at the earliest, Sunday July 18.

On the basis of this representation the court scheduled a hearing on Ms. Leigh’s motion for July 15. On July 14, at 2:30 p.m., the court was informed that the director of the BLM, Bob Abbey, had authorized an emergency gather of horses to begin at 6:00 AM today, prior to the court’s scheduled hearing.

Judge Hicks wrote: “Based on this change in the BLM’s position, the court finds it necessary to grant an immediate injunction preventing the Tuscarora gathering of wild horses until further order by the court.”

On Saturday, July 10, 2010, the BLM captured 228 horses in the Tuscarora roundup. The majority of these mustangs – including newborn and young, vulnerable foals – were stampeded for eight miles over rugged terrain in summer desert conditions.

BLM reports that the majority of horses were in “good condition.” At least12 mustangs – averaging under 5 years of age – have died so far, including seven who suffered gruesome deaths in the first 24-hours from dehydration-related causes, including colic, brain swelling and “water intoxication,” which happens when dehydrated horses drink too much water.

Another horse was shot to death at the trap site after breaking his leg.


Three colts, aged 2 – 4 months, are also among the victims.

The BLM proceeded with the summer roundup despite Ms. Leigh’s lawsuit and a pending legal action filed by Advocates for the West, a public interest law firm, on behalf of In Defense of Animals, both of which warned of danger to the horses of a roundup in the summer heat and so close to foaling season.

Ms. Leigh’s lawsuit addresses the removal of the wild horses and the BLM’s violation of her First Amendment rights by prohibiting her from observing and videotaping the roundup operations.

The BLM plans to remove approximately 1200 wild horses, leaving behind just 337 wild horses in the 500,000-acre Owyhee public lands complex.

Source: The Desert Independent

Posted by Kaci Switzer

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