Slaughter Auction of Wild Horses Faces Legal Action

Note from the Volunteers at Wild Horse Education –

Below you will read a press release from Wild Horse Education regarding an action filed on behalf of the wild horses just rounded up and now awaiting almost certain death at Fallon. We have no idea if this challenge will succeed but we could not stand by and simply watch this happen. We had to try. Without trying to stop our magnificent wild horses from going to slaughter there would be no sleeping at night.

Wild horses awaiting sale at Sundays auction

Wild horses awaiting sale at Saturdays auction

(Reno, NV) Today Wild Horse Education’s (WHE) President Laura Leigh continues the legal challenges against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conduct and unjustified removals of wild horses from public land.

This new challenge, filed late in the evening on August 14th in federal district court, addresses the unbranded wild horses facing sale at the Fallon Livestock Auction this Saturday, August 17th. The wild horses were removed through an agreement with Tribal Authorities, the Forest Service and BLM. Many unbranded wild horses were removed including those residing in an area of BLM managed public land. The wild horses in that area of BLM managed public land may be Owyhee Complex wild horses engaged in their normal seasonal migratory patterns. These horses are already included in another challenge against BLM Leigh currently has in federal court.

Documents filed by Leigh’s attorney Gordon Cowan assert that BLM failed to protect wild horses as intended by the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. In existing court records, and government documents, BLM has already admitted that they have no formal data on movement of protected wild horses in and out of the Owyhee Complex. In the removal documents outlining a ten-year management (removal) plan by the BLM, the area surrounding the Owyhee Complex is included. This is the exact area where many of the unbranded wild horses of the Owyhee Complex traverse. These same horses were likely rounded and are now sitting at the sale yard facing likely purchase by kill buyers for slaughter in Mexico and Canada.

“I am literally ill that the Owyhee horses that we have fought so long and hard to protect may now face certain death,” stated Leigh “BLM sends one person that has not spent any time overseeing the Owyhee horses to ensure that there is no impact to wild horses. How can this person identify unbranded horses, having never seen the horses before? How can this person say a given unbranded horse is a BLM horse or not a BLM horse? I pray that the courts can suspend this sale and help sort this out before it is too late.”

Leigh began her court battle to observe and protect Owyhee wild horses in 2010. At that time she went to court to obtain the right to observe wild horses removed from the Owyhee Herd Management Area (HMA). During that roundup, Leigh was met on a dirt road by law enforcement and BLM rangers who prohibited any observation of even a single horse captured. Since that time Leigh and her attorney have taken the battle to observe wild horses and burros during capture and in holding facilities up and down the court system with another case now heading for the Ninth Circuit.

Currently a challenge stands awaiting hearing on the 21st of this month in relation to inhumane conduct and unjustified removals by BLM that began this winter within (and near) the Owyhee Complex. The Complaint was recently amended to include bait trapping operations just outside the Snowstorm HMA that prohibited public access entirely, yet another proposed removal that was not based on complete data. Immediately after Leigh’s attorney filed for a Restraining Order,  Department of Justice Attorneys on behalf of BLM notified the court that “nothing” was happening at the Owyhee Complex even though Leigh was in area when a trap was set. To date BLM has not published a revised schedule or given any reason for stopping the Snowstorm bait trapping operation.

“We currently have a crisis where failed range management has led to BLM having no place to stockpile wild horses,” said Leigh “We have had years and years of managing based on guesstimates and no accountability to the public or the wild horses. It is literally madness. And the ultimate betrayal of a failed system sits, unprotected, awaiting certain death in Fallon. The madness must end.”

~~~ is a Nevada non-profit carrying three active federal cases against the BLM. Wild Horse Education stands ready to assist BLM to gain the information needed to create a sane and sensible management plan that does not rely on removal as its only strategy and that fails to treat wild horses and burros humanely. Wild Horse Education Website:

Slideshow showing wild horses captured this winter and sent to BLM facilities and horses currently held for sale in Fallon.

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Categories: BLM, Legal, Slaughter