Equine Rescue

US Judge Clears Way for Nev. Tribe’s Wild Horse Slaughter Sale

Source: By SCOTT SONNER — Associated Press

“Unless someone can prove they are not a wild, a horse that exhibits wild horse behavior and is not branded, it is a wild horse,”

RENO, Nev. — A federal judge cleared the way Wednesday for a Nevada tribe to sell 149 mustangs over the objection of critics who claim the unbranded animals are federally protected wild horses that should not be auctioned off for possible slaughter.

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du lifted an emergency restraining order she put in place last week temporarily blocking the sale of any adult horses without brands among the more than 400 recently gathered near the Nevada-Oregon line.

After hearing conflicting testimony during a hearing in Reno Wednesday about whether the mustangs exhibited wild behavior, Du ruled the U.S. Forest Service acted appropriately in determining the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe is the animals’ rightful owner and can’t be stopped from selling them.

Earlier Wednesday, Du indicated in a related case that she’s unlikely to grant a blanket prohibition on any roundups from a big herd near the Oregon line because government land managers insist they don’t intend to gather any more mustangs there for at least two years.

She said there doesn’t appear to be a legal basis to grant horse advocates’ request for a temporary injunction regarding roundups in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management‘s Owyhee horse complex given BLM’s representation that none of the more than 1,000 mustangs there will be gathered for two or three years.

Du said written orders would follow in both cases.

The Fort McDermitt tribe sold the majority of the more than 400 horses it had gathered during an auction on Saturday at the Fallon Livestock Exchange about 60 miles east of Reno.

The 149 that carried no brands were held out of the sale that made the animals available to purchase for slaughter after Du granted an emergency order late Friday night sought by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and others based on allegations the mustangs originated on national forest and BLM land and therefore protected under the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971.

“Unless someone can prove they are not a wild, a horse that exhibits wild horse behavior and is not branded, it is a wild horse,” Katherine Meyer, a lawyer for the horse advocates, said via a telephone hookup from Washington.

But Du concluded the opponents of the sale had failed to prove a temporary injunction should remain in place after a longtime member of the horse campaign who routinely monitors wild horse roundups and a Nevada state brand inspector offered contradictory testimony about whether the horses without brands exhibited such characteristics.

“It’s the exact same behavior I’ve observed at roundups,” said Deniz Bolbol, a horse advocate who examined the horses at the Fallon auction yard last weekend.

“These horses showed no signs of having familiarity with humans and every sign of fear of humans,” she said. “They moved in a group clustered together and circled together consistent with undomesticated, unbroken horses. They were bashing their heads against the chute trying to escape.”

But Chris Miller, a Nevada brand inspector, testified to the exact opposite.

“They didn’t want to try to escape from us, which you’d expect a wild horse to do,” Miller said. “We were able to walk among them within a few feet and the horses were not excited.”

It wasn’t immediately clear when the remaining unbranded horses being held in Fallon would be put back up for auction.

Erik Petersen, a Justice Department lawyer representing the Forest Service and BLM, said the opponents had no legal basis to prevent the private sale of the horses.

“These horses are tribal horses and they have the full right to gather up their horses whenever they want to,” he said.

25 replies »

  1. Sickening news. may have been the Navajo that rounded them up but Zah represents the Yakima. So what’s up with that? Now, who lied amour their domestic status and demeanor? Were they skittish or not around man? That should be proven beyond a doubt.. Are we going to lose them?


    • Travesty! and this was the original judge who placed the TRO? Sad! Things really seem hopeless for the horses. no matter what we do or anyone else does, those Indians are apparently going to get their evil way!


    • Someone needs to find out why this is happening/focusing in Nevada – that’s the key – most of the BLM problem children have ties with Nevada – There’s a big connection there – is the horse racing industry also tied in with the gambling/casino industries in that state?? Follow the money in & out of Nevada…that’s the route to those involved in the corruption!


  2. This is just horrific and is just another example of how evil DOI and USFS are when it comes to the wild equines and their blatant aggressive. belligerent behaviors that philosophically SPIT on the 1971 Act and the will of the American people.

    These scum have been messing with migration and geographic location of these animals since the Act for the SOLE PURPOSE of removing them, NEVER to protect them,

    Why someone can’t sue on that point alone is mystifying to me as it shows a destructive reverse of what the Act was intended to do. Burns Amendment or no Burns Amendment.


  3. Oh….and the “judge” is either a crook or an ignoramus….or both.

    Why is the entire US Judicial system repeatedly rubber stamping illegal activities by our governments?


    • It is frustrating to see people say things that are disrespectful to judges. Judge Du will most likely be involved in future litigation, she certainly wll be on leigh’s Owyhee case. The judge cannt rule based on her personal prospective, they are bpound to rule on what law and facts are presented unless it is as here conflicting. It is a dofficult and complex road. The judicial system has bent over backwards (especoally in the case of leigh and cowan) to hear us. The complaint will continue the search for the truth.


      • There is nothing more disrespectful than breaking laws (1971 Act), torturing wild and domestic equines (wild equine roundups and HCHS) and consumers eating contaminated meat all the while some people saying play “nice” to a judicial system that has sanctified the brutality of all of the previous points.

        Sorry…JanWindsong, respectfully disagree about the “judge”; and please take some time to understand the word disrespectful AND my, just like your right to speak my mind.

        Trust me, could have said way worse and I didn’t out of respect for that judge’s POSITION on the bench….not the person’s decision.

        And for those thinking that lifting the TRO saved the wild equines…..ummmmm, at least another 150 went to the meat man. Who knows, they may very well have been wild equines that got captured by “someone” and branded immediately before this lying scheme perpetrated by the Feds for over the last year.

        I am thankfully overwhelmed at the commitment and expenditure of resources by those that saved those noble animals; as many as they could. I am tempered in my weeping joy by the knowledge that many will still die a brutal death, poisoning people and the system that is lying, cheating and stealing these wonderful creatures rolls merrily along unencumbered. I find that INSULTING!


    • So True Denise we all want to know this??

      It’s gotten worse and there is some serious underlying agenda that we can suspect????


      • Robyn:

        The law cannot be supporting this action, based on the diminished numbers of remaining wild equines alone (explains why DOI, USDA kept LYING ABOUT THE NUMBERS though).

        It HAS gotten worse…..for a few reasons but I will stick to one…globalization.

        Sometimes capitalism is just as bad as communism…..


  4. There is an exhibit attached to the USFS response which is a letter fromUSFS to the tribe stating that NV Horsepower offered to buy all the unbranded horses. USFS asked them to hold oFf until the court decided. Maybe Judge Du considered that ltr in deciding to release the horses to the tribe.


  5. Traditionally, a “roundup” was and still is done by a group of ranching neighbors who may share ranch boundaries to gather their livestock off of the open range shared among them where their animals graze and basically live. The roundup itself is done cooperatively, in good spirit, and is a chance for them to get together, work together, discuss mutual needs, and more often that not exchange stories and in general socialize as neighbors do. The animals are all worked together and what needs done is done cooperatively, and when it is time, they are headed and driven off the range. That is, with each outfit having an accounting of their own animals, and each outfit helping the others account for theirs.

    Another neighborly tradition is that neighbors look up neighbors to let them know where their animals are. Neighbors let other neighbors know they have their animals or where they can find them. If they need driven back to their neighbor’s ranch, often times neighbors help with that. Because maybe their neighbor helps them with the same thing, or may do someday.

    Unfortunately, the tradition of a roundup today has been trammeled by people in this action. By individual Indians and tribal governments who look the other way or take advantage for personal gain; by individual men and women in government resource agency offices like the BLM and USFS who do the same; by their ignorant Department heads who have no connection to such tradition; and by legalistic interpretations of a judge unaware of a spirit behind the law which works for the betterment of everyone, not just some.

    Perhaps a more fitting word for what has happened to the tradition of a roundup in this case is that it has been purloined. Purloined by a few greedy hearts willing to kill innocent horses for money, and many more who simply turn away from the strength of a tradition traded for the expedience of policy and power.

    I wish I could say it was really just horse theft, clean and simple. But after sleeping on this, I say it is more than that. It’s a loss of a way of life. When today’s ranchers and tribesmen say they just want to maintain their traditional way of life, they are lying to us and themselves. Tradition was and still is about a different kind of roundup. I don’t know what to call what they are doing, except twisted. I’ll say that to anyone. This is the real loss. This, and the lives of the innocents.


  6. This is a such big disappointment. I wanted to believe that all these wild horses would end up free again. I just want to thank all the Indians and own government officials involved in the death of all these beautiful horses at the Fallon Auction.


  7. having dealt extensively with the judicial system on various issues, I can guarantee you that judges, in most cases, have no idea what the law is, don’t care what the law is, and routinely do let personal feelings, interests, monetary benefits, and just plain malfeasance enter into their judgments.
    This sudden flipping by this judge indicates to ME, that some kind of behind the scenes negotiations took place and the judge was “persuaded” to amend the first ruling.
    We have more than a few “judges” on record saying they don’t care what the law actually is……the law is what they say it is.
    This whole fiasco that has so endangered the wild horses and caused so much unnecessary pain and misery could have been totally avoided if just ONE judge had stood up and upheld the Wild Horse and Burro Act and held BLM and DOI liable and guilty for violating the very law that supposedly gives them control.
    As for the comments to the judge by the brand inspector……I find it extremely difficult to believe that horses were rounded up, held in cramped pens, frightened, and that supposedly this man walked among them without them becoming upset. This should have been a red flag for the judge or any person with any reasonable sense. Even I would know better than to attempt to walk into the midst of these animals under these circumstances.
    It would be interesting to know what conversations, meetings, memos etc., took place between the first ruling and the second that the advocates were not party to.


  8. Business as usual continues. Those charged with protecting the horses do anything but protect them. Lots of lies going around. I can only hope that it comes back on them. We all owe big thanks to Deniz Bolbol for being there on the ground examining horses. Sounds like Fallon, NV is a place to be avoided at all costs. I think it’s time for the FS and BLM to take money they spent building a 2 mile fence at the top of the Pryors and put fences to protect our few precious herds. Wouldn’t that be a switch


  9. http://www.theunityride.com/ These Dakota Indians just came from Canada and passed through New York on their Unity Ride benefiting the environment and peaceful coexistence. They rode their horses because they feel horses are the great medium between mankind and the environment. My horse Nitro was near dearth late one night in his paddock, Travis an elder left his busy schedule and came to where Nitro was and gathered many of us together and smudged Nitro and said great words to him late that evening. Nitro lives to this day I now believe it’s because of the power of the will of the people helped by a great Indian horse person. Is it all good v. evil, heaven v. hell, hot v, cold? When will mankind realize all life is precious? Until we do we’re all vulnerable to the might of the greedy, authority, and killers.


  10. This is a sad day indeed. What gives these people the right to kill any unbranded horse is so wrong.
    What can we do to make sure this does not happen again. I am so disheartened by this what can I do. I feel helpless and powerless to do anything. If I could with hold my tax money I would do it in flash. It makes me sick to pay taxes for this terrible treatment of horses.


  11. horsedrag~~~~this is a documentary about the Dakota 38 ride-I believe it was the first ride they made-and have made one every year since-to honor the 38 Lakota who were hung-in one part a young man tells what the horse means to the Lakota-hope you enjoy.


  12. The horseplushumanesociety.org in Calif saved at least 35 of the horses and foals sold at the Fallon auction. They have their health and coggins paperwork finished and stayed at a local rescue. They then were hauled on to California. There is photos of the horses on the website if anyone wants to see them. But at least these won’t be going to slaughter.


  13. Ha. You know that when the US Governments talks about defending Native American rights, there must be something rotten in the state of Denmark!


  14. There is still another lawsuit that is addressing this roundup plus the agreement to do this and more roundups between these parties (they signed a contract and Cattoors are the contractor and the same tribal members would be involved with the Forest Service, USDA). They intend to do this sort of very bloody work into 2015. Can you imagine? I heard the worst things about this roundup and sale and I am still waiting for verification on the horrors that arrived before the sale began. It needs to be found out what went on. As many as 50 wild horses did not make the auction because of fatal injuries- broken legs, hips and shoulders and open wounds among others. These horses were reloaded at Fallon and taken to a renderer to be euthanized by gunshot. It seems the methods of driving them a long distance, penning them, loading them and hauling them to Fallon was one of the most deadly roundups we have ever seen the results of. This must not happen again. The powers that be are violating a Law by the misuse of the amendments that are contrary to the Law. This is an absurdity that even our Supreme Court might find hard to accept. Please support Protect Mustangs and Citizens Against Equine Slaughter, a group run by Dr Lester Castro Friedlander, DVM, and joined in this action are Michael Blake, of Dances With Wolves fame and our own Craig Downer who find that the removal of wild horses in Nevada will do them harm in their respective lifestyles. This will be very interesting, folks! Please support this effort. And, word was, the roundup was to bring in at least 700 wild horses and possibly as many as 1000! Have they already been rounded up? If so, considering the debacle of this past Fallon auction, were these additional wild horses from the Toiyabe Owyhee Complex already taken to slaughter? Aren’t you all tired of not knowing the answers to these burning questions? I sure am. It is my humble opinion that the advocacy has been habitually putting its money into non-winnable activities and this should be stopped and discouraged so we can evolve to a stage where we can show we are able to support and deal with this displacement and the broken laws, crimes against wild horses and burros and the pursuit of independent science which we can get funding for a lot easier than we can to fight BLM in other ways. Lets find success through more intelligent and organized efforts. Please rethink what you want. Help new efforts and grow your advocacy into greater diversity and ultimate success.


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