The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Nevada Wild Horse Condemnation Upheld by Court *

by Megan Tady

*A correction was appended to this news brief after initial publication.

Jan. 4, 2007 – Activists’ emergency effort to save over 1,000 wild horses and burros near Las Vegas was shot down by a judge who last week ruled the government could round the animals up and remove them.

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The groups America’s Wild Horse Advocates and Wild Horses 4 Ever had asked the court to temporarily stop the Nevada Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from commencing with the removal before a legal challenge is heard.

Beginning this month, the BLM is planning to remove 266 wild horses and 779 burros living in the Spring Mountains Herd Management area.

The BLM says the horses will be shipped to holding facilities for adoption or "sale to qualified individuals." As previously reported by The NewStandard, in some instances, the BLM has sold wild horses to buyers that have sold them for slaughter, even though the BLM claims to screen out slaughterhouses and "killer buyers."

Some of the remaining mares will be subject to "fertility-control experimentation," according to the BLM.

The groups argued that the Environmental Assessment Report completed by the BLM about the effects of the horse removal was "flawed, inaccurate and [lacking] a solid grounding in legitimate rangeland science."

The groups also said the removal will irreparably harm the "genetic viability and diversity" of the horse population, and that, contrary to government claims, there are not too many horses and burros living in the area.

But US District Judge Kent Dawson denied the groups’ request for an emergency halt to the removal, ruling they failed to offer "scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge to support such allegations."

In its report, the BLM said the wild horse population is more than twice the "appropriate management level," while the wild burro population is more than six times that level.

"Immediate removal of the excess animals is needed to achieve a thriving natural ecological balance between wild horse populations, wildlife, and vegetation" and to "ensure the health and safety of wild horse and burro populations and to protect the range from further deterioration associated with overpopulation of wild horses and burros," the BLM report says.

"Managing these horses is a thorn in BLM's side, and the easiest thing for the BLM is to remove them rather than manage them," Billie Young, president of America’s Wild Horses Advocates, told the Associated Press. "These animals are our heritage. We want to see integrity in the program so we have horses and burros in our future on the range."

Although the groups have a hearing date on January 30, Young said, "All the horses will already be gone."

CORRECTION

Major Change:

The original version of this article stated, "...some horses rounded-up by the BLM are sold and slaughtered for their meat." This was misleading since it implied that the BLM sold horses directly to slaughterhouses as a matter of policy. In fact, the BLM policy is against selling to slaughterhouses though it has admitted it has little control over what happens to the horses once they are sold. 

 | Change Posted January 8, 2007 at 16:55 PM EST

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.


Megan Tady is a staff journalist.

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