Horse News

Breaking News: Federal Appeals Judge Halts NV Obama’s Wild Horse Roundup

Second Chance for the Wild Horses?

Twin Peaks Horses Prior to Capure by Terry Fitch

RENO, Nev. — A federal appeals judge on Friday night granted a temporary injunction to halt a government roundup of about 1,700 wild horses from the range in Nevada.

Judge Richard Paez of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the order after U.S. District Judge Howard McKibben earlier in the day denied a motion to stop the federal Bureau of Land Management’s removal of mustangs from public lands near the Utah line.

Paez’s order will remain in effect until a three-judge panel on which he sits has a chance to review the horse advocacy group Cloud Foundation’s emergency motion for injunctive relief pending resolution of the group’s appeal of McKibben’s ruling.

“To allow for further consideration on the merits of the emergency motion, the court grants temporary injunctive relief,” Paez wrote in his order. “Appellees are enjoined from the roundup of wild horses in the … (affected) areas until further order of the court.”

BLM spokesman Doran Sanchez said the order was being reviewed by the agency’s legal counsel and he could not comment further on it.

Attorney Rachel Fazio, who represents the Colorado-based Cloud Foundation, said she was pleased with Paez’s order and can’t recall such a BLM roundup being halted by the court for even a few days.

“This is pretty amazing. At some point I hope the judiciary will step in and enforce the law,” Fazio told The Associated Press.

After McKibben’s ruling was issued late Friday afternoon, BLM officials announced they would start the horse roundup Saturday morning in the sprawling Triple B Complex.

McKibben disagreed with the Cloud Foundation, which contends the roundup would violate the 1971 Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act because the BLM failed to prove the herds there are overpopulated and causing ecological harm to public rangeland.

The herds have grown by nearly 1,600 horses since the last roundup in the complex in July 2006, McKibben said, and the range and herd itself will suffer if the population continues to grow at a 20 to 25 percent annual rate without BLM intervention.

“Plaintiffs have failed to show that a gather of this magnitude is not warranted in order to protect the rangeland habitat and maintain a thriving, natural ecological balance,” the Reno judge wrote. “The historical evidence before this court strongly supports the conclusion that the gather will benefit the horses rather than harm them, as fewer horses competing for limited resources will mean a healthier herd.”

He noted the high-desert complex has scarce water sources and the BLM has hauled several truckloads of water to it since June for the mustangs.

After McKibben’s ruling, Fazio immediately filed a motion asking the federal appeals court to intervene.

Sanchez said his agency has a mandate under the federal law to remove “excess” horses to sustain the health of herds, rangelands and wildlife, and the mustang population in the complex is five times greater than what the range can support.

The 1,700 horses targeted for roundup are among an estimated 2,200 that roam a series of horse management areas covering a total of 1.7 million acres southeast of Elko and northwest of Ely in eastern Nevada. BLM officials maintain the area can only sustain between 500 and 900 horses.

The lawsuit, filed by activists Craig Downer of Nevada and Lorna Moffat of California, as well as the Cloud Foundation, accuses the BLM of managing the land primarily for livestock and ignoring the federal law’s directive to manage the land “devoted to mustangs and burros principally for their welfare.”

22 replies »

  1. BLM has been doing all the manipulation for so long that having the court call the shots is a relief! Time is what we need….


  2. GREAT NEWS!!! Finally a judge with ho-hos. I don’t know … doesn’t TX need some horses of substance to haul around some big prison guards? Maybe they could use the two in Terry’s beautiful photo above? But wait, these horses really ARE from the purest of bloodlines. They may taint those grade crosses for which they’re breeding … Sorry. My mind is still numb from those articles.


  3. Since the Federal Government owns 80 % of Nevada they pretty much do what they dame please!

    I am sure this Judge will receive a phone call telling exactly they way it is and the horses will be rounded up.


  4. I’d said that all I wanted for my birthday today was to wake up and find out the horses would be safe from the gather. This is the best gift ever. Now, if we can just make it permanent. A tiny sigh of relief, but time now for a big huge breath in and get ready to do battle tomorrow. Thank goodness for that judge. He’s just got to hang tough on this decision, though.


  5. I found this part very interesting: “Plaintiffs have failed to show that a gather of this magnitude is not warranted in order to protect the rangeland habitat and maintain a thriving, natural ecological balance,the Reno judge wrote. The historical evidence before this court…..” It suggests that instead of looking at the facts and insisting the BLM prove it has facts to back up the roundups, it’s demanding that the horse protectors prove they are wrong and taking everything the BLM has said in the past at face value.


    • I find “historical” troubling. If the judge(s) allows the BLM to go back in the history of this area far enough, I’m sure they can find cycles of drought, but also years with reasonable rainfall and good forage. If the bench chooses to concentrate on the dryer years and ignore the wetter (like this one seems to be, so far), the BLM will get it’s way. So many times these decisions are based on a series of “what if” scenarios of the past, rather than present and projected conditions. I wonder how “climate change” will figure into range conditions in the West, since it’s turning our world topsy-turvy!


    • Also, the comment, “The historical evidence before this court strongly supports the conclusion that the gather will benefit the horses rather than harm them, as fewer horses competing for limited resourses will mean a healthier herd.” What does this mean for the ones that will be put in the long term holding prisions or sent to slaughter! How is that going to benefit them and make things healthy for them? Some of these so called “educated” persons reasoning seems to come from outer space.


      • It means that the judge neither knows of what he speaks or does and is finding a way to shove aside the facts as presented by “real” wild equine advocates.

        I suspect it actually is a combination of both. Think the judge is invested with meat or mining in some way?

        But I am impressed that the legal wild equine preservation team KNEW this would be the finding of McKibben and was prepared.

        I am very impressed.


    • [Plaintiffs] “failed to show that a gather of this magnitude is NOT warranted in order to protect the rangeland habitat and maintain a thriving, natural ecological balance” ….wait?! but wasn’t This THE POINT ?? BLM Had NO evidence, and NEVER Has had evidence, to “show that a stampede & imprisionment of perfectly healthy, legally-PROTECTED Wild Horses IS warranted” !
      And that IS, after-all, Their JOB and Mandate…from Congress, Senate, the Judiciary, signed by President! It is NOT the job of Citizens that PAY their salaries…to DO their Job FOR them ! it makes zero sense—I don’t get it !
      [so…IF I sue a contractor, who built me a house, SO shabbily, & without regard to “house-construction building codes”…that it fell down & killed/maimed my family member…..then—this Court would say that
      *I* should Go out and BUILD 100 houses Correctly??—to Prove that said contractor should have; & has legal & ethical Obligation to DO its Job correctly, and according to the Laws & Policies already SET-forth for contractors (past, present, & future]???


    • that is an excellent question. Believe me it does not cost them that much. it is just time and trouble for them. I will bet they did not even need to do it. they most likely did it so they could say the horses are out of water. Evidence for their case.


      • Lisa, you read my mind! BTW, I found out Nevada has a book that lists all of the 1,600+/- large and small guzzlers and developed springs throughout the state. You can buy it at the Water Department (or whatever they call it) for about $40. Some can be accessed by wild horses and livestock, but I don’t know how many or if any are on the HMAs. I wonder if other western states have similar records available.


    • I was thinking long and hard about your post this morning and didn’t reply.

      What I was going to reply with (not disagreeing with your logic or point) was…..ummmm, wonder if the waterhole fences on public lands removed would save lives and money in the long run.

      But that presupposes that DOI/USDA/NV Ag really wants the wild equines to live/survive in the first place.


  6. In my opinion, Judge McKibben made his decision without doing his homework and/or by falling into the BLM trap of “we are rounding them up for their own good”. I am impressed and relieved that Judge Paez was not snowballed into the same lies that the BLM promotion department continues to puke out to the public.


  7. Bravo to The Legal team for an excellent job,and being prepared!!! Now we must pray that the Judges who review are unbiased and see clearly that putting horses into The BLM concentration camps is not the answer, wasting taxes, only to put horses in harms way……delivering water to them on the range I am sure is much cheaper !!!!!! and keeps them from the BLMs disease pits……………………………


  8. I am praying with all my heart that justice prevails. The burden of proof needs to be with the BLM not the other way around. Let the horses win this fight let the BLM be put in their place.


    • No, as the wild equines advocates are the plaintiffs….their level of cause and evidence is higher than the defendants (DOI). The defendants are presumed to be doing their job (innocent) within the stated (albeit ambiguous wording of their law and regulations). The problem advocates are finding is that the interpretation of that same laws and regulation is hard to validate or invalidate, especially with a government agency.


      • The other tongue tying paradox is that we are asking the Federal Government to make judgement upon the Federal Government. Likewise our taxes pay the BLM and the BLM then pays attorneys to defend themselves from the very entities that support them while the advocates AGAIN have to pay attorneys to defend the law. Do the math, how many times does the BLM waste our hard earned money…it just boggles my mind, albeit not a long trip.


      • Agreed RT…maybe I didn’t state it as well as you.

        My point was that this is a very big stone to roll up the the hill (pun intended) when it comes to finding “default, incompetence, malfeasance” with the Feds….that they get a free pass forever with legal resources…..all on our dime. That is understood.

        Just think how short the trip is for the crooks in our government…I’m willing to pay for the trip ticket to find a better route and accommodation to get our equines (wild and domestic) to a better life.


      • In the next several days we will be asking all of you to help turn up the volume to not only save the North Piciance herd but to help in sinking the BLM’s ship as a whole…we are getting close to zeroing in on those dents in their armor.


      • so……HOW is This case {ruled AGAINST BLM & DOI} ….really much different ?

        (June 2011)—-“A federal district judge has given final approval to $3.4 billion class action lawsuit settlement between U.S. Dept of Interior & hundreds of thousands of Native Americans in the historical Cobell v. Salazar Indian trust class action.
        District Judge Thomas Hogan this week announced approval of Cobell v. Salazar settlement, **which FOUND the government MISMANAGED LANDS held in trust ON BEHALF of Native Americans**.
        Cobell v. Salazar class action was originally settled December 2009 & later approved by Congress November 2010.
        Judge Hogan’s approval of Indian trust class action settlement will allow estim 500,000 Native Americans who HAD Individual Indian Money accounts, an interest IN TRUST, or had **Restricted LAND managed BY Interior Department** to receive payments of at least $1,000 each. Parts of American Indian class action settlement will go toward buying interest in trust lands +a scholarship fund.”
        —–> SO–IT CAN be done ! It CAN be Won !
        *for don’t “the Plaintiffs”, as well as ALL of US, for whom they speak, also HAVE our Wild Horses and their legally Restricted Public Lands–“held IN-TRUST” by the BLM of DOI??
        & they have *Already BEEN FOUND several times…by the GAO and the Congress.; have been NEGLIGENT, Inconclusive, Inconsistent, [+quote- MISMANAGED !] DOing their own JOBs!—according to their Own Policies and Mandates—for which We have, and are, and will be PAYING them to DO…!?
        Denise said, “wild equines advocates are Plaintiffs….their level of Cause & Evidence is higher than the Defendants (DOI)… defendants are presumed to be DOing their job (innocent) within stated….laws & regulations…”
        —while I understand that the ‘burden of proof of Guilt” lies upon the Plaintiff, (like in murder cases, etc…), rather than upon the Defendant to “prove innocence” –this IS Not that type of case ?!
        They [BLM/DOI] already Know ‘the Rules & Mandates’; they are actually BLM’s Own Policies & Regulations; and….they HAVE already previously been SHOWN to be INADEQUATE, at doing their JOB….and have been DEMANDED by their direct Oversight Committee in Congress to Immediately redress these very Issues !? [which they have Still NOT done, at all.]
        ..{**head explodes**}
        —It is NOT the job of Citizens/Plaintiffs that PAY their salaries…to
        DO their Job FOR them ! …indeed, BLM has ALREADY been proven GUILTY in this regard ! (by Congress).
        Shouldn’t THOSE Facts also be a HUGE part of “historic precedent”, as well ??
        —or * am I nuttier than I think ?..& totally Incapable ;( of reading & comprehending the English language well enough….to Understand the clear–INTENT of Law?–& congressional Mandates, here—
        {which seems way more than inappropriate, on its face…..too?}!
        or not ??
        ++ please refer to my Circular logic “[so…IF I sue a contractor, who built me a house…”] above ?


  9. Difference, being For the BLM its all about money, for the advocates its all about lives of fabulous beings who deserve to live in peace, for their services ,Our Heritage and the American way, Isnt that ironic…….that we have to make them do this….?????? and we pay for it twice,,,,,,,,,that alone makes a huge statement…….The lives of Our Mustangs , Burros are worth whatever we need to do to save them…….. The Mustangs are a HUGE part of America, they are visual evidence of what America stands for ,Where its been and most of all where we are going…… and we can never ever let them be compromised for greed……………………… This persecution has been going on far to long throughout History it is time for a HUGE Stand…….Why do they do it because they can!!!! ENOUGH………..!!!!! America is WE THE PEOPLE !!!!


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