Wild horse advocate’s lawsuit seeks to halt auction after roundup

UPDATE: We are updating our original post on this issue with the following joint press release.


Wild Horse & Conservation Groups Allege Feds Failed to Protect Wild Horses in Tribal Roundup; 467 Horses Await Fate at Slaughter Auction

RENO, Nev. (August 16, 2013) — A coalition of wild horse advocacy and conservation groups last night filed a federal lawsuit to block the sale of wild horses at a slaughter auction in Fallon, Nevada scheduled for August 17, 2013. The horses were rounded up off public and tribal lands in northern Nevada last weekend after the U.S. Forest Service pulled the plug on a federally-funded helicopter roundup operation that had been scheduled to begin August 9.

The complaint, filed against the Forest Service by the public interest law firm of Meyer, Glitzenstein and Crystal on behalf of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, a national coalition, its parent organization, Return to Freedom, The Cloud Foundation, Western Watersheds Project and Laura Leigh alleges that unbranded horses captured by the Fort McDermitt Paiute Shoshone Tribe may, in fact, be federally-protected wild free-roaming horses that migrated from the nearby Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Little Owyhee Herd Management Area.

The lawsuit states, “The Forest Service’s decision to authorize the roundup of horses on National Forest lands in close proximity to the Fort McDermott Paiute and Shoshone Reservation without taking any measures to ensure that the roundup did not include removing wild horses from the public lands violated the agency’s duties to protect such horses under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act.”

The groups are seeking a court order to ensure that the Forest Services takes “all necessary steps to ensure that all wild horses currently located at the Fallon Livestock Exchange sale yard are identified and returned to the public lands as soon and as humanely as possible.”

A total of 467 horses were captured by the tribe and delivered to the slaughter auction, according to officials, where they await their fate. An undetermined number of these horses are unbranded and likely to be wild horses. The Forest Service has acknowledged that most of these horses will be purchased by kill buyers and trucked to slaughter plants in Canada or Mexico. Photographs of the horses show hundreds of mares and foals, yearlings and adults crammed into pens at the stockyard.

Cross-posted from the Los Angeles Times
Nation Section

Wild Horse family poses in desert. Photo credit: Carolyn E. Wright.
Wild Horse Family

LAS VEGAS — Another showdown is looming between the federal government and animal advocates over the wild horses that wander the American West.

Last week, 486 horses were gathered from the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone reservation in northern Nevada during a three-day roundup.

Tribal officials say the animals were traditional pests that cost them money to maintain. But wild horse advocates claim that many of the animals were wild mustangs that should have been protected by the federal Bureau of Land Management under the 1973 Wild Horse and Burro Act.

Laura Leigh, founder of Wild Horse Education, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Nevada, claiming that the BLM participated in the roundup instead of protecting the horses as the law requires.

The suit demands that the agency halt an auction scheduled for Saturday in Fallon, Nev., until it can determine which horses are unbranded and wild.

It also alleges that wild horses were removed through an agreement with tribal authorities, the U.S. Forest Service and the BLM. Many unbranded wild horses were removed, including those residing in an area of BLM-managed public land, it says.

Leigh told the Los Angeles Times that many of the horses collected may have been from BLM-managed land traveling the area in their normal seasonal migratory patterns.

She said the horses to be auctioned Saturday would probably be purchased by so-called kill buyers, who would ship them to slaughterhouses in Mexico. Continue reading >>

7 thoughts on “Wild horse advocate’s lawsuit seeks to halt auction after roundup”

  1. This organization in California need you help to save the foals that were rounded up for the slaughter auction held this Sat Aug 17th. I know who these people are and they are honest. They have found a office that can do the blood test and coggins because in Calif any horse going to Calif from out of state has to have this done. They will save as many as they have the funds for which will be all of them if they have the donations coming in. There isn’t anything they can do for the adult horses, the foals will be trained and will probably find good homes. They have a trainer on site along with a vet. In the past they have saved hundreds of horses. The organization is “www.horsehumane.org they rescue horses at auctions every month. Please contact them, its urgent.


  2. The plight of America’s wild horses and burros is not limited to Congressmen sliding language into a bill at the last second. This is much bigger. The plight America’s wild horses face now is 1992 UNCBD Article 8 (h) To prevent, control, and eradicate alien species in states (national) and parts of states (nations) where they occur. This became U.S. invasive species law on June 4, 1993 when President Clinton’s representative signed the treaty for him. President Clinton’s decision to sign this treaty allowed our wild horses and burros to be referred to as an alien, invasive, non-native, exotic, pest, feral species rather than merely wild. The damage our wild horses do is that they trample native plants, disturb the soil, and take resources better used for native wildlife. This is why the native-non-native status of horses is so important. While the 1971 Act should be sovreign to international treaty not ratified by the Senate, this is part of the Clinton-Gore-now Obama Climate Change implemented through international law, executive orders, intergovernmental agencies, and citizen advisory panels who simply rubber stamp the President’s EO.`


  3. With the exception of the responsible tribes of the Lacota and Cheyenne, the tribes of the West have allowed themselves to be so saturated by alcohol and the white man’s greed they have completely forsaken the ways of tradition and the values they once held sacred. This,the corruption of BLM and other Government Agency’s and treasonist Washington Congressmen sliding language into decent acts that undermine American Citizens and States Rights are our biggest hurdle in saving our horses and, for that matter, perserving animal rights which these un-American Congressmen seem intent on doing at any cost.


    1. I do agree with you somewhat… The White Man started the corruption with the Native Americans way back when… gave them Booze & Rifles…& forced them on reservations… Most tribes always treasured their beloved horses…. Now, the remaining Native Americans are looking for a way to support themselves and their families.. The US.Govt and the Misguided BLM.are the ones responsible for promoting horse slaughter in the US.. Also for shipping our innocent horses to Canada & Mexico for a gruesome journey without food or water… The Kill Buyers say that “breeders need to stop breeding”…So, what is the solution for Humane Euthanasia for Horses??? Including horses from the race tracks?? I have not heard any options, which the the government wants to hear… This is why I need input from others here…. Way too many unwanted horses in the U.S. I do not want them shipped to slaughter… what alternatives do you suggest?? Need input here!!!


      1. You may find the good and workable ideas you are looking for here Marissa: http://www.horsefund.org/horse-rescue-alternatives-to-slaughter-p1.php, http://www.horsefund.org/horse-rescue-alternatives-to-slaughter-p2.php, and http://www.horsefund.org/horse-rescue-alternatives-to-slaughter-p3.php .

        And yes, they have been presented to various political and horse industry leaders.

        But money is the bottom line when it comes to providing horse meat to overseas consumers, millions of dollars to be made. Take for example the number of US horses exported for slaughter in 2012 — 176,223 — and netting $350 for meat per horse = $61,678,050.

        So pro-horse slaughter lobbyists and their hired mouthpieces fight these types of ideas.


    1. We need to do everything we can think to do, and keep doing it. Everyone who knows about this on Twitter should tweet this and cause a tweetstorm. That’s how things happen. Thanks Chris for doing your part. It does count.


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