Judge clears trail to continue record round-up of wild horses

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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.

In this June 5, 2013 photo, some of the hundreds of mustangs the U.S. Bureau of Land Management removed from federal rangeland peer at visitors at the BLM's Palomino Valley holding facility about 20 miles north of Reno in Palomino Valley, Nev. The U.S. Forest Service has built a corral in California that could allow it to bypass federal restrictions and lead to the slaughter of wild horses. The agency acknowledged in court filings in a potentially precedent-setting legal battle that it built the new pen for mustangs gathered in the fall on national forest land along the California-Nevada line because horses held at other federal facilities cannot be sold for slaughter.
In 2021, the previous record of 13,066 captured horses was set.
AP Photo/Scott Sonner

“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.”

Dust rises over the government corrals on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 in Palomino Valley, Nev. A scathing independent scientific review of wild horse roundups in the West concludes the U.S. government should likely instead let nature cull the herds. A 14-member panel assembled by the National Science Academy's National Research Council, at the request of the Bureau of Land Management, concluded BLM's removal of nearly 100,000 horses from the Western range over the past decade is probably having the opposite effect of its intention to ease ecological damage and reduce overpopulated herds. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner)
Activists sued the US Bureau of Land Management and argued that the government was violating US law by “needlessly and recklessly” killing mustangs.
AP Photo/Scott Sonner

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

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