BLM Seeks Dismissal of Nevada Wild-Horse Related Lawsuit

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is requesting that a Nevada court to dismiss a lawsuit directing the agency to remove horses from public and private rangelands on grounds that the BLM lacks the resources to gather and maintain the horses.

The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 federally protects wild horse and burro herds residing on Western rangelands and places them under the BLM's jurisdiction. The BLM website indicates that more than 20,000 wild horses and burros resided in Nevada during the last fiscal year; the BLM says Nevada's maximum management level is about 12,700.

In January the Nevada Association of Counties and the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Reno, Nevada, alleging the BLM violated the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act because the agency failed to remove “excess” horses from the Nevada rangelands.

The complaint, filed on behalf of Nevada ranchers who graze their livestock on the same ranges, claims that the BLM's failure to remove the animals resulted in damage to the ranges' ecological integrity, threatening the ranchers' livelihoods. Wild horse advocates subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on grounds that the lawsuit was without merit.

On June 24 the U.S. Department of the Interior filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on grounds that because the BLM would “be unable to dispose of the gathered horses save through adoption or qualified sales, this campaign would lead to an unsustainable increase in the horses placed in long-term holding.” The motion to dismiss also alleges that the plaintiffs in the case failed to make valid arguments for relief.

No one from either the Nevada Association of Counties or the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation was available for comment on the motion to dismiss.

Suzanne Roy, director of American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, said she is pleased with the BLM’s motion in this case.

"Ranchers continue to scapegoat wild horses for range damage caused by wide-scale livestock grazing on our public lands," Roy said. "Instead spending tax dollars to round up thousands of wild horses, the government should be reducing livestock grazing on public lands and eliminating the taxpayer subsidies that accompany the unsustainable practice."

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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