Lawsuit Challenges BLM Nevada Mustang Gather Plan

A group of wild horse welfare advocates and environmentalists have filed a federal lawsuit to short circuit a long-term Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plan to gather wild horses from herd management areas in central Nevada.

Chris Hanefeld, BLM Nevada spokesman, said that under the plan, the BLM would conduct three to four gathers over a six to 10 year period from the Pancake Complex rather than one large gather in order to reach appropriate management levels within the complex. The plan also calls for increased fertility control use for mustang mares, adjustment of herd sex ratios, and management of a nonbreeding herd of geldings. During the initial gather slated to begin in January 2012 the agency plans to remove approximately 800 to 1,000 of the estimated 2,200 mustangs residing on the complex located near Tonopah, Nev.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Dec. 14 the Western Watersheds Project, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, The Cloud Foundation, ecologist Craig Downer, and photographer Arla Rugglers seek a halt to the BLM's plan on grounds that it violates the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. The Act protects mustangs and burrow and places them under BLM jurisdiction.

"The proposed action for the Pancake Complex is yet another example of the way in which the Interior Department has failed to protect the mustangs, as Congress intended and the American public demands," said American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign Director Suzanne Roy.

Tom Gorey, BLM spokesman, declined comment on the lawsuit.

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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