Nevada Horse Roundup Ban Lifted For Bureau of Land Management

Jan 11, 2013 by


By SCOTT SONNER 01/10/13 10:10 PM ET EST AP

Nevada Horse Roundup

RENO, Nev. — The Bureau of Land Management can resume its roundup of dozens of wild mustangs in northern Nevada, but wranglers must limit their use of electric cattle prods and take other steps to ensure the animals are treated humanely, a federal judge said Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du’s formal order lifted an injunction she issued last week blocking the roundup of 50 horses near the Idaho-Nevada line.

Although disappointed that the roundup was set to resume Friday, horse protection advocates were pleased that Du’s order outlined specific conduct for the BLM.

“The judge has begun what the BLM has failed to do, and that is to establish humane standards for roundups,” said Deniz Bolbol, spokeswoman for the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.

The judge prohibited the routine use of “hot shot/electric prod treatments” to expedite movement of horses through gathering and loading chutes, allowing their use only “as necessary to ensure the safety and security of the horses.”

Also, BLM contract helicopter pilots who chase the horses toward the gathering traps must make sure that slower young foals aren’t separated from the herd. And the judge specifically forbade the agency from driving horses into barbed-wire fences, as they did with several earlier in the roundup at the Owyhee complex about 90 miles northwest of Elko.

Laura Leigh, a photographer and director of Wild Horse Education who has been battling BLM over a series of roundups for years, captured that incident on video.

It was among the evidence she submitted in obtaining last week’s emergency injunction, along with footage of wranglers repeatedly shocking horses in a loading chute on Nov. 30.

She hailed the ruling as a significant victory.

“Three years of running this grueling marathon from range to courtroom to gain an honest conversation about the inhumane handling of an American treasure and we now have the very first specific language toward actually gaining the first humane care standard,” Leigh said in an email to The Associated Press late Thursday.

During a hearing in her Las Vegas courtroom earlier Thursday, Du said she intended to grant the government’s request to lift the injunction because opponents had failed to prove the agency lacked authority to remove the mustangs from the high desert.

But she also indicated she was inclined to include language in the order addressing concerns about the allegations of abuse, including repeated shocking of mustangs and running animals to the point of exhaustion.

“If I were to allow the gather to continue, I would want to ensure the horses were gathered in a humane way, as the BLM is required to do by statute,” she told Justice Department lawyer Erik Petersen, referring to the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burros Act of 1971.

BLM argues the herd in the Owyhee Horse Management Area is too large to be sustained given lingering drought. The agency has warned that some of the animals could die if they aren’t removed before spring.

Wild horse protection advocates countered by accusing the agency of shamefully exaggerating the threat to the animals in an area.

“I think it is fiction, your honor,” said Gordon Cowan, a Reno lawyer for Leigh. “There’s really no emergency out there. There’s no proof of stress on the range.”


  1. Elaine Brown

    As a rescuer of horses for my entire life, often have had the geriatric ward for horses in my paddocks, I want to thank you for writing about the plight of the wild horses. When adopting burros at the local sales, the BLM workers seem like the nicest people possible and poo poo any fears one might venture as to the wild horse roundups, and then we hear once again about the BLM horrors that really happen during those same roundups.

    I think it is far past time to renew the ROAM act that many of us thought was permanent legislation. And it is time to let the animal lovers in this country, and there are a lot of us, know what the GOPers have done in behalf of the wealthy cattle industry. Once again, the problem of standing against the wealthy lies in notifying and uniting. This is always the weakness of activism. I dare say that the environmentalists, the ecologists, the horse lovers are often one and the same, but….

    So I ask you, how do we unify the activists? How do we bring all the environmental organizations into one giant group?
    Personally, I care as much about the elephants in Africa and Asia as I do the wolves in Idaho and doubt that I am one bit different from those others who feel for all sentient beings whether it is the piglets at Tyson in Wyoming or the poached in Kenya.


    • I appreciate your frustration and encourage you to continue writing to our site as I will gladly post your comments. We are all little pebbles trying to find each other and the internet may be the place. Many thanks, Casey Danson

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