BLM Handed Deadline After Tragedy Sparks Public Outrage

Federal Land Managers in northeastern Nevada want to round up 2,500 wild horses. A judge is asking them for the specific reasons why this roundup should take place. The critics of the roundup argue that 31 mustangs have died in 26 days and the roundup itself is illegal 

Wild Horse Education, a nonprofit devoted to protecting these animals, has filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and is calling for a court injunction to stop the roundup temporarily. 

The organization alleges that the BLM is breaking its safety rules by rounding up the animals during extreme heat and using helicopters to help capture them when foals are present.

According to the agency’s website, the roundup, which began on July 9, has led to the capture of 2,643 animals, including 260 foals, and they are being transported to government holding pens. The roundup will continue until August 22, with several hundred more animals anticipated to be gathered.

Democratic U.S. Representative Dina Titus from Nevada has proposed legislation to completely ban the use of helicopters in wrangling the horses into makeshift corrals on the high-desert range. The situation’s urgency, primarily due to horse deaths such as one chased for 35 minutes with a broken leg before being put down, has led her to request an expedited hearing.

“Helicopter usage in these operations often leads to terrifying and fatal scenarios for the horses, as evidenced in recent weeks,” Titus stated.

In a letter to the committee chairman, Republican U.S. Representative Bruce Westerman of Arkansas, and ranking U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., she detailed the multiple injuries sustained by the horses, including broken necks and dehydration due to extreme heat. She stressed that without proper reform, “BLM’s operations will continue to destroy these Western symbols under entirely preventable conditions.”

Judge Larry Hicks of the Nevada U.S. District Court has not temporarily approved a restraining order to stop the Nevada horse roundup. However, he instructed the agency to respond to the illegal mistreatment accusations by 4 p.m. Monday, with a hearing scheduled for Wednesday if further discussions are needed.

Opponents, however, believe the real motive behind these removals is to satisfy ranchers who see the horses as competition for scarce forage in the high desert.