Amidst protests from wild horse supporters, a U.S. judge approved the continuation of the U.S. government’s extensive roundup of mustangs in Nevada, even in the wake of 31 horses dying during the operation.
U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks, after a prolonged seven-hour hearing in Reno, dismissed the emergency halt request by Wild Horse Education. The advocacy group contends that the roundup is not only inhumane but also unlawful. Hicks stated, “I lack evidence that would warrant the issuance of a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order.”
While acknowledging the tragic demise of the horses, Hicks emphasized that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) seems to be abiding by regulations and striving to conduct the Mustang gathering as compassionately as feasible to address overpopulation concerns.
“When you conduct such roundups, unfortunate incidents are bound to happen. I can’t deduce any inhumane practices from these episodes,” asserted Hicks. He added, “While these mustangs — stallions, mares, foals — are majestic creatures, they remain wild. Naturally, some casualties are inevitable.”
However, on a point raised by horse advocates about being unlawfully denied observation access to a Mustang trap (due to its location on private property), Hicks agreed. The landowner had been against public presence. Hicks mentioned, “I believe that was a breach of constitutional rights. Yet, it’s a past incident now.”
Government representatives for the BLM described the deaths among the 2,500 mustangs collected since July 9 as regrettable but anticipated. They emphasized that these roaming creatures jeopardize the ecological balance of public terrains.
Conversely, horse supporters highlighted the preventable nature of these deaths, blaming cruel methods that hurriedly drive the horses, including pregnant mares and younglings, across the rugged desert terrains during peak summer, into temporary enclosures.
The Mustang collection, positioned midway between Reno and Salt Lake City, is planned to proceed until August 22.