By SCOTT SONNER
RENO, Nevada — Wild-horse advocates fighting government roundups across the West are citing past rulings that shot down their own legal challenges in urging a U.S. judge to throw out a lawsuit by livestock interests seeking the removal of thousands of more mustangs from the range.
Although somewhat successful in a few isolated cases in Nevada in recent years, horse groups routinely have been turned away over the past decade by federal judges who say the courts lack the authority to overrule the expertise of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
They point to a series of such rulings in a motion filed this week in U.S. District Court in Reno to dismiss a lawsuit by the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation and Nevada Association of Counties.
The rural groups argue more roundups are necessary to cull overpopulated herds competing with livestock for water and forage. The suit filed in December seeks to force BLM to sell older horses deemed unadoptable without the usual prohibition on resale for slaughter.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and others said in requesting dismissal of the suit that the plaintiffs “seek to overhaul the entire program through litigation” but fail to cite any specific agency action that violates the law, including the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
It’s “the latest attempt by ranchers to create a legal facade to give the BLM an excuse to cave in to their interests and remove more mustangs,” said campaign director Suzanne Roy. She called the suit a “meritless legal assault on federally protected wild horses and burros by ranchers who view these national icons as competition for cheap, taxpayer-subsidized grazing on our public lands.” Continue reading »