A federal judge paved the way for the US Bureau of Land Management to round up thousands of wild horses in eastern Nevada, part of what officials expect will be a record of 19,000 mustangs captured across 10 western states.
The previous record of 13,066 captured horses was set just last year.
Activists had sued the bureau, arguing that the government was violating US law by “needlessly and recklessly” killing mustangs during the herding process.
Government data shows that an average of 1.1% of horses died during the annual round ups from 2010 to 2019. Eleven of 1,048 horses captured in Nevada as of Wednesday had died this year, the bureau reported, saying it was consistent with the annual fatality rate.
The gathers are necessary because the wild animals are threatened by extreme drought, limited forage and overpopulation, Justice Department lawyer Maggie Smith Smith told US District Judge Miranda Du on Wednesday.
“This is a very high priority (for the bureau),” Smith said. The bureau plans to complete the gather by the end of February.
“Wild horses and burros who survive roundups are stockpiled in government holding facilities,” according to the American Wild Horse Campaign. “Those who can’t be adopted or auctioned off are sentenced to a lifetime of being warehoused in long-term holding facilities. At the worst, wild horses end up in the slaughter pipeline.”
Opposition to the Nevada round-up was led by Laura Leigh, Wild Horse Education, Animal Wellness Action and the nonprofit CANA Foundation.
With Post wire services