RENO, Nev. (AP) – 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.”
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Peak your palate with gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again