A planned roundup of wild horses in the Spring Mountains -- set to begin next week -- could be stopped if wild horse advocates get their way.
The groups have long complained that the Bureau of Land Management does a poor job of managing the herds on Nevada's ranges. They went to court Tuesday to try to prove it.
Read the Complaint and Declaratory and Injunctive Relief filed by America's Wild Horse Advocates and Wild Horses 4 Ever.
By the end of next year, it is likely that there will be more wild horses housed in government holding pens than horses out on the open range.
This startling fact is proof, critics say, the BLM cares only about getting horses off public land, not in managing the herds, as required by law.
Lawyers for the horse groups say the BLM has ignored the law, and the public, for far too long.
Jerry Reynoldson, Wild Horses 4-Ever, said "The BLM manages 40-million acres in Nevada and yet there's not enough room for 30-40,000 horses to live in peace any longer? There's no room at the inn for wild horses?"
Wild horse advocates have complained for years that the BLM operation in Nevada, where half of the nation's wild horses reside, seems far more interested in getting horses off public land rather than in managing the herds for future generations.
Case in point, the proposed Spring Mountains roundup, set to begin Jan. 2. Hundreds of horses live in the mountains. Many of them make regular visits to the town of Cold Creek to drink from its ample water sources. Residents love the animals and were angry to learn of the proposed roundup. But when BLM held a public meeting in Cold Creek to talk about the roundup, the residents weren't allowed to speak. Their comments were made to a recorder.
The fact that Cold Creek is in the path of future housing developments isn't lost on horse advocates. "The BLM has done a great job of cutting up the land and selling it off but not such a great job of managing these horses," said John Schnider, attorney for the wild horse groups.
Wild horse advocates retained a Henderson law firm to put a stop to the proposed Cold Creek gather and one in the Lake Mead area. The request for an injunction was filed Tuesday morning in federal court. It alleges the BLM has violated federal law and the will of Congress by making decisions about horse roundups that have nothing to do with what is actually happening on the ranges or to the animals.
The BLM wants to remove about three-fourths of the horses in the Spring Mountains because it's concerned about the impact the horses have on the range and whether there is enough water and forage to support them. The horse lovers say the BLM has no basis for these beliefs.
John Cereso, attorney for the wild horse groups, said, "They are predetermining the results. They're not doing real science. They are not using people who are range experts. They're not going out to study the problem and figure out what the problems are and how to fix them. They're saying this is what we want the results to be."
The law firm says BLM has refused to provide information used to justify the proposed roundup. If the injunction is granted and the roundup is delayed, the wild horse groups hope to force BLM to open its files for independent examination.
Critics of the wild horse program say it's ridiculous to house nearly 30,000 horses in government pens, paying to feed and water them every day, complain about the high cost, and then continue to gather even more without investing much in adoption efforts or contraception.
Attorney John Schnider continued, "It's a violation of federal law, the law that the horses are to be left alone and unmolested."
"Out of sight and out of mind. The less horses there are, the less problem they have with management," added Jerry Reynoldson.
The I-Team contacted the Bureau of Land Management. A spokesperson said they have not yet read the motion filed Tuesday morning, so they can't comment at this time.
In the past, BLM officials in Southern Nevada have said they care about wild horses, but their roundups are a management tool that at times must be used.
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