BLM Could Seek Charges against Mustang Ranch Operator

The operator of a Nebraska training ranch and sanctuary for Bureau of Land Management (BLM) mustangs could face further penalties if the BLM decides to seek its own charges in the case.

Morrill County authorities charged Jason Meduna with one count of felony animal cruelty in connection with the alleged maltreatment of BLM mustangs and burros at his 3-Strikes Ranch in Alliance, Neb. However, BLM spokesman Tom Gorey said the agency could ask federal prosecutors in Nebraska to add inhumane treatment of animals and contract violation counts to the existing local charges.

If filed, the inhumane treatment charge carries a penalty of $300 per count. The contract charge carries a penalty of $150 per count

Filly seized from 3-Strikes

BLM investigators removed this filly from 3-Strikes Ranch.

The BLM routinely sells or adopts out mustangs and burros to private individuals. The agency transfers ownership of animals purchased outright, but retains title to adopted animals for one year. During that time, BLM agents randomly inspect properties where adopted animals reside.

Gorey said Meduna had acquired 210 BLM animals since 2007. Agency inspectors visited his ranch three times in 2008 and found the animals receiving proper care.

But on April 14 a BLM inspector responded to complaints about conditions at the ranch and removed one allegedly malnourished adopted mustang from the property. Inspectors later discovered that two other adopted mustangs and three wild burros had died, and an undisclosed number of horse and burro carcasses were discovered on the property.

"When we heard there was a problem, we responded immediately," Gorey said.

While the BLM ponders its options, 200 surviving horses have been removed from the ranch and remain in the custody of Habitat for Horses and the Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue (read more). The horses are receiving rehabilitative care until they are placed in new homes.

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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