UPDATE: We are updating our original post on this issue with the following joint press release.
LAWSUIT FILED TO STOP SALES OF WILD HORSES AT SLAUGHTER AUCTION ON SATURDAY
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
Written by JOHN M GLIONNA
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 >>