Animal rights group Friends of Animals has filed a lawsuit over a planned wild horse roundup in Nevada.
The suit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Reno, the Associated Press reported. It claims that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated the National Environmental Policy Act and other laws by approving the removal of nearly 10,000 mustangs over 10 years in a 4,900-square-mile expanse of federal rangeland near the Nevada-Utah border.
Michael Harris, director of the group’s Wildlife Law Program in Colorado, said the roundups could occur without public notice or comment and without site-specific analysis of each individual gather.
The “roundup decision is unprecedented in size and scope,” the suit states, and would allow BLM to “continually roundup, remove, drug and castrate wild horses for 10 years after the initial roundup.”
The film Wild Horses and Renegades has generated a federal lawsuit, Kleinert v. Salazar, challenging the recent Disappointment Valley helicopter roundup based on violations of the 1971 Free Roaming Wild Horse & Burro Act, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the U.S. Constitution.
The legal strategy focuses on staying in court post-roundup. Federal lawsuits against the BLM under the 1971 Wild Horse Act are rare and recent, and this area of the law is literally developing by the day. Most lawsuits are dismissed for lack of standing and mootness. The Kleinert case is unique and should withstand dismissal. This is because the volunteer group is able to return captured horses back to the larger range they inhabited 1971, so the herd can repopulate to a higher, genetically sustainable size
Since the captured Disappointment horses can in fact be returned to the range thanks to community support, the court can grant this relief, which means the case should withstand dismissal and the plaintiffs can stay in court post-roundup.
This will be a rare opportunity to create new law. It could be a game changer for the American wild horse and its advocates.