Federal agency given deadline to explain why deadly Nevada wild horse roundup should continue

by Andrew Wright
1 comment
Wild horse roundup.

A federal judge has requested an explanation from federal land managers about their intentions to continue capturing over 2,500 wild horses in northeastern Nevada. This roundup has faced opposition from critics who argue that it is unlawful and has resulted in the death of 31 mustangs within just 26 days.

The nonprofit organization, Wild Horse Education, is taking legal action against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to obtain a court order temporarily halting the roundup, situated halfway between Reno and Salt Lake City. Among its claims, the organization asserts that the BLM is disregarding its own safety standards, which prohibit roundups in extreme heat and the use of helicopters during the capture of the animals, especially when foals are present.

The agency’s website reports that, as of Saturday, more than 260 foals have been captured alongside 2,643 animals, with several hundred more expected to be gathered before the roundup concludes on August 22.

In response to the horse deaths, including an incident where a horse with a broken leg was chased for 35 minutes before being euthanized, Democratic U.S. Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada has introduced a bill aiming to ban the use of helicopters for assisting wranglers on horseback during mustang roundups. Titus urges the House Natural Resources Committee to expedite a hearing on her proposal.

Despite the request for a temporary restraining order to halt the Nevada roundup on August 1 being declined by U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks in Reno, the agency has been given a deadline until 4 p.m. on Monday to formally address the allegations of mistreatment of the animals. A hearing on Wednesday will allow lawyers on both sides to present more detailed arguments if necessary.

The BLM claims that the current roundup, which began on July 9 between Elko and Ely near the Utah border, is essential due to seriously damaged ranges caused by overpopulated herds. According to the agency, the area holds an estimated 6,852 horses, almost 14 times the ecological capacity. It asserts that roundups typically have a mortality rate of less than 1%.

Critics of the roundups argue that the true purpose of removing the horses is to cater to ranchers who do not want the horses competing with their livestock for limited forage in the arid high desert, where annual precipitation averages less than 10 inches.

Wild Horse Education argues that conducting the current roundup in extreme heat with the use of helicopters, especially during foaling season when foals are present, lacks a legitimate justification. They insist that the BLM has had sufficient time to perform the gather humanely, as required by the law. Without intervention, the plaintiffs fear witnessing further inhumane handling, deaths of wild horses and burros due to the harsh conditions and helicopter usage during this critical time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Wild horse roundup.

What is the issue with the wild horse roundup in Nevada?

The issue with the wild horse roundup in Nevada is that it has faced opposition from critics who consider it illegal and inhumane. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is being questioned about its decision to capture over 2,500 wild horses in northeastern Nevada, leading to the deaths of 31 mustangs in just 26 days.

Who is opposing the roundup, and what are they seeking?

Wild Horse Education, a nonprofit organization, is opposing the roundup. They have taken legal action against the BLM and are seeking a court order to temporarily halt the roundup. They argue that the agency is violating its own safety standards, such as conducting roundups in extreme heat and using helicopters during captures, especially when foals are present.

What action has been taken at the legislative level?

Democratic U.S. Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada has introduced a bill that aims to outlaw the use of helicopters during horse roundups under any circumstances. She urges the House Natural Resources Committee to expedite a hearing on her proposal due to the horse deaths and mistreatment during the roundup.

Why is the BLM conducting the roundup?

The BLM states that the roundup is necessary because overpopulated wild horse herds are causing serious damage to the range in the area between Elko and Ely, near the Utah border. The estimated 6,852 horses in this area are nearly 14 times the ecological capacity.

What do critics say about the real purpose of the removals?

Critics argue that the real purpose of the removals is to accommodate ranchers who don’t want the wild horses competing with their livestock for limited forage in the arid high desert. They claim that this is the main reason behind the roundup, not just the preservation of the range.

What consequences has the BLM faced in court?

So far, U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks in Reno has declined to grant a temporary restraining order to halt the Nevada roundup. However, he has given the BLM a deadline to respond formally to the allegations of mistreatment and violations regarding the roundup. A hearing has been scheduled to hear more detailed arguments from both sides.

How many horses have been captured so far?

As of the latest report, more than 2,643 animals, including over 260 foals, have been captured for transport to government holding pens since July 9. Several-hundred more horses are expected to be gathered before the roundup concludes on August 22.

More about Wild horse roundup.

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1 comment

NevadaRancher August 6, 2023 - 8:50 pm

these horses ruin the land! blm needs to protect our livestock! round em up!

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