Horse News

US judge rejects Nevada ‘Welfare Rancher’s’ bid to dispose of Wild Horses


Private "Welfare Cattle" being herded onto BLM Antelope Complex in Nevada, while Wild Horse roundup was being conducted ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Private “Welfare Cattle” being herded onto BLM Antelope Complex in Nevada while Wild Horse roundup was being conducted ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

RENO, Nev.  — A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by a coalition of rural Nevada counties that wanted to force the government to sell or otherwise dispose of tens of thousands of mustangs in U.S. holding facilities.

The judge in Reno ruled Thursday in favor of wild horse advocates who said the effort backed by the Nevada Farm Bureau was led by ranchers who want a bigger share of forage for their livestock. They said it would force the sale of federally protected mustangs for slaughter.

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du dismissed the suit as a broad attack on the Bureau of Land Management‘s overall wild horse policy in 10 western states. She says it lacks specifics needed to order BLM to round-up more horses, and get rid of the ones they have.

(additional information supplied by other sources): The successful motion to dismiss the case was brought by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) , author Terri Farley and photographer Mark Terrell.

18 replies »

    • According to the sanctuary – the “usually get their horsemeat from horses that have died from natural causes” in feed lots. This person should do some research!


  1. This was a dark evil lawsuit. Maybe the idea is to keep slinging mud and sees what sticks but this was evil. I’m not sure how anyone thought this was going to go anywhere. Sure glad Her Honor Judge Du saw through the smoke and mirrors.


  2. until the congress cedes Public lands over to the states, this is never going to happen.,States cannot enact laws that override federal laws. The gray area on that is the marijuana legalization laws in a few states, which while still illegal are not being prosecuted by the feds US Attorney..WYO checkerboard was an unusual case because the wild horse herds and the cows all shared land public state and private.I personally think this arrogance by ranchers has been escalated because Bundy scared off the BLM and put his illegal cattle back. and now there is a sense that they can do what they want to..Ranchers are much more afraid of WWP than they are of the BLM


  3. Wild horses and burros are legally DESIGNATED on the Herd Management Area (HMA) and livestock are only PERMITTED. Definition of the word “designated” is to “set aside for” or “assign” or “authorize”. Definition of “permit” is to “allow” or “let” or “tolerate”. The Wild Horse and Burro lands and resources are set aside for, and assigned and authorized for, the use of wild horses and burros whereas the livestock is only allowed and tolerated and let to use the public range resources. While commercial livestock grazing is permitted on public lands, it is not a requirement under the agency’s multiple use mandate as outlined in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA). Public land grazing clearly is a privilege not a right, while the BLM is mandated by law to protect wild horses and burros.
    If ranch owners cannot manage their own land and livestock sufficiently enough on their own land to provide the $$$ they want, then isn’t that proof enough that they are incompetent ranch managers and they deserve the results of their deficient management?


    • GG, incompetence isn’t a fair characterization for most ranchers with grazing permits. My understanding is the permits were originally allowed adjacent to existing, smaller homesteads as part of the Taylor Grazing Act which closed the Open Range. The smaller rangeland homesteads could not support raising many cattle and the folks were used to freely grazing them all over the range. They were limiting their access by accepting the Act but their business model (and their financing) was based on raising more cattle than their purchased lands could support. This is the system which has been in place since 1934. Ranching is usually a tight margin business even in the best of circumstances so the system has continued.
      While I agree this is a broken system, I don’t think it’s right to cast aspersions on folks who are and have been following the rules set up by our government. I understand not all permit holders fit this model, but across the board the financial structure of businesses using permit grazing depend on them. Competence is an entirely different matter. In my view, the system needs to be changed but it won’t happen from the bottom up, because it can’t.


  4. Good point Grandma Gregg. They are the most arrogant people imaginable. Its about time the tables start turning in favor of their horses. Thank you to all involved and committed to protect our beautiful horses.


  5. Icy
    First, I have to agree that ALL ranchers are not the same – in attitude or in how they manage their livestock. Not being an expert, but having a bit of historical and ancestral knowledge on the subject and having been on our public lands and having known people raising domestic livestock who DO and those who DO NOT have grazing permits, I can tell you that you are right that this goes back into history of our public lands. As you said, historically persons bought or homesteaded land with the understanding that they could graze their personal livestock on surrounding public land freely – and they did. Then when grazing laws were passed they had to toe-the-line and follow the laws – supposedly at least. But most of those still considered (and still do) the public lands as their personal lands for their domestic livestock grazing. If you don’t believe me, take a look at a few of the “ranches” advertising themselves as dude ranches or hunting ranches who publicly advertise they have 3,000 acres and run hundreds and hundreds of cattle … when in actuality they only own 300 which could only support a few cattle and the rest of that land belongs to you and me.

    Some things have changed and some things have not changed as the years past – here are a few thoughts.

    #1 The WH&B Act of 1971 became a law which designated some of “those” ranchers’ “free” grazing lands to be used in part for wild horses and burros and believe me those (and their descendants) are the ones making the biggest stink and those were the ones who did the “mustanging” and sold our wild ones to dog food factories or just plain shot the wild ones. Our wild horses and burros are still found shot every year, not to mention the ones that are shot and not found. Have documentation.

    #2 There are some ranchers that practice extensive livestock trespass on our lands – and I am not talking about a few cattle that accidently went through a fence for a few days, I am talking about serious and willful illegal grazing. I have documentation of one rancher who had his cattle trespassing for about 3 months in an off-limits area and although (long story) his actual fine was ~$8,000 the BLM let him off for only about $500 and the rancher was still mad that he got caught and had to pay anything (is his attitude entitlement? You betcha) – and by the way that rancher didn’t even have a grazing allotment in that area – pure and simple greed at our expense. I also have documentation of two similar instances of another rancher who was witnessed to have ~600 sheep and then again ~1500 sheep in the middle of off-limits to grazing public land. These were not strays … these were in the middle (miles into the interior of the off-limits area) and had sheep herders – who obviously were told by the rancher to just go do it. BLM was notified of all this … do you think BLM really cared or took any assertive action? Nope. By the way these were all on a designated wild horse and burro HMA.

    #3 Many owners of the ranches are absentee ranchers and the ranches are an investment – that is not the same as the mom-and-pop, hand-to-mouth rancher of a hundred plus years ago. And many of the ranchers get federal cash subsidies and can also use their grazing permits as collateral for loans and can also get federal grants for improvements on their personal land and by the way we pay for the miles and miles of fencing and cross fencing on our public lands all for the sake of private for-profit ranch owners and the fences are certainly NOT for the sake of our wild ones – in fact they cause genetic botttlenecks.

    Of course we both could go on and on and even write a book on this subject but some people already have. Have you read “Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West”
    and “Mad Cowboy” by Howard Lyman?
    PS I am aware that this subject goes beyond our public lands and into global economy but we can only do as much as we can do in one lifetime and therefore that IS what we must do. Thanks for listening.


    • GG, I agree with your words and have a similar understanding, I just don’t think that folks scamming and/or stuck in the system we now have is the same thing as being incompetent. In fact, an argument could be made some are very clever indeed. The term “incompetent” might be a good fit for our government as regards public lands grazing, however.


  6. They really ought to leave our Wild Horses & Burros alone.
    What has been done to them for so long is WRONG.
    WH&B Advocates did not start this battle and most have nothing against ranchers or cattle….at least not against those that do the RIGHT thing and play by the rules.


  7. As always, follow the money

    Report from 2002

    $450 Million in Bank Loans to Public Lands Ranchers

    Guaranteed With National Forest Grazing Permits
    SANTA FE, NM • Hundreds of local, regional and national banks have issued more than $450 million in loans to western public lands ranchers who rely on national
    forest grazing permits as collateral, according to information released today
    by Forest Guardians. The information was provided as a result of a more than
    four-year effort by Forest Guardians, including a three-year Freedom of
    Information Act lawsuit, to obtain information about the financial scope of the
    U.S. Forest Service’s escrow waivers policy, which enables national forest
    ranchers to utilize grazing permits to secure loans.

    Among the bank and insurance companies that have issued loans to western ranchers based on grazing permits are some of the largest financial institutions in the
    world, including Metropolitan Life Insurance, Mutual Life Insurance, and
    Prudential Life Insurance. The majority of the ‘escrow waiver’ agreements
    though, are held by federal and quasi-federal lending entities such as the
    Federal Land Banks, the Farmers Home Administration and the Farm Service


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