Restraining Order Sought to Stop Nevada Mustang Gather

A Nevada woman is seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from completing the July 10 gather of 1,200 mustangs from the Owyhee complex in northern Elko County until mid-August, after most foals in the herd are born.

At the start of the gather, agency personnel used helicopters to drive 228 animals off Owyhee, Rock Creek, and Little Humboldt Herd Management Areas and into temporary holding areas. BLM officials then halted the gather July 11 after four of the removed mustangs died from dehydration and related complications. Another three horses died later from the same condition. Another animal was euthanized after fracturing its leg shortly after it was placed in a temporary holding corral.

On July 12 attorney Gordon Cowan filed a motion for the temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court in Reno, Nev., on behalf of Laura Leigh, an artist and wild horse advocate. The motion alleges that the helicopter gather violates regulations contained in the BLM handbook. Those regulations prohibit such gathers between March 1 and June 30, the foaling period for most wild herds.

BLM spokesman Tom Gorey declined to comment on the court case, but said the agency considers the mid-April to mid-May period as peak foaling season. BLM policy is to avoid using helicopters to gather horses six weeks before and six weeks after that period.

"So except for emergencies, we prohibit the use of helicopters for gathers from March 1 through June 30," he said.

A case hearing is set for July 15.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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