RENO, Nev. (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday threw out a lawsuit filed by a coalition of rural Nevada counties that wanted to force the government to sell or otherwise dispose of tens of thousands of mustangs in U.S. holding facilities.
U.S. District Judge Miranda Du in Reno ruled in favor of wild horse advocates who said the effort backed by the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation was organized by ranchers who want a bigger share of forage for their livestock. They said it would have forced the sale of federally protected mustangs for slaughter.
Du said in a nine-page opinion dismissing the lawsuit that it was an unsubstantiated, broad attack on the Bureau of Land Management’s overall wild horse policy effective in 10 western states. She said the suit lacks specifics needed to order BLM to round up more horses and get rid of the ones the agency says it already has gathered in compliance with the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
The Nevada Association of Counties filed the suit against the U.S. Interior Department in December 2013 and asked for an injunction to force BLM to immediately roundup excess horses on public lands, determine statewide population levels every two months, “sell or dispose of” excess animals in government holding, and “stop interfering with Nevadans’ water rights,” Du wrote.
BLM also had asked the judge to dismiss the case. Du said that motion was moot now that she’s granted the dismissal sought by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, Reno-based author Terri Farley and wild-horse photographer Mark Terrell of Dayton, Nevada.
“The frivolous bid by cattlemen to roundup and slaughter America’s iconic wild horses to clear the public lands for commercial livestock grazing has now been soundly rejected by the federal court,” said Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.
The case had made the BLM and horse advocates rare allies in a larger, ongoing legal battle over the mustang roundups that the horse advocates argue are illegal and should be stopped.
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• American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign News Release, FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES NEVADA CATTLEMEN’S ANTI-MUSTANG LAWSUIT, March 12, 2015