Wild horse advocates drop suit at Nevada refuge
AP SCOTT SONNER
RENO — Wild horse advocates dropped a lawsuit on Tuesday challenging roundups at a wildlife refuge on the Nevada-California line after federal officials severed ties with a contractor accused by critics of allowing some mustangs to be sold for slaughter.
The Fish & Wildlife Service notified J&S Associates of Mississippi on June 23 that its contract had been terminated and the firm would not be receiving the $11,633 it was to be paid at future roundups.
The move came after Bonnie Kohleriter and Laura Leigh of the Nevada-based group Wild Horse Education claimed in the federal lawsuit that the service couldn’t account for mosts of the 140 horses that J&S rounded up in the fall from Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge.
The case had been scheduled to go before Judge Mirandu Du on Tuesday, but the plaintiffs confirmed before a status hearing that they were dropping the case.
A telephone call seeking comment went unanswered at J&S in Pelahatchie, Miss. General Manager Stan Palmer has said before that to his knowledge, none of the horses ended up going to slaughter.
The lawsuit filed in September said the service had continued to hire J&S despite objections from the public and the agency’s own internal review that was unable to account for more than half of the 262 horses J&S gathered from 2010 to 2012.
Leigh said she’s pleased agency officials severed ties with J&S but remains concerned they haven’t detailed what they plan to do with nearly 500 more horses they intend to gather this summer from the refuge about 230 miles north of Reno.
“Current placement options for the horses to be removed in 2014 is of utmost importance to ensure that the mistakes made in the past are not repeated,” she said in a letter to refuge Director John Kasbohm.
Story in progress check Las Vegas Review for updates on AP story. https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/nevada/wild-horse-advocates-drop-suit-nevada-refuge
Last week we put out a press release after info leaked to the public on J&S not getting horses this year. The work to ensure compliance with the CCP is not over. Please sign on to our letter urging Sheldon to do the right thing for America’s war horses. http://wildhorseeducation.org/2014/06/30/operation-sheldon-fast-action/
Last weeks release:
Sheldon Mustangs Protected From Known Slaughter Past
(DENIO,NV) Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge has issued a “stop work order” to a contractor that has failed to follow mandates of the contract to ensure Sheldon mustangs sent to them do not go to slaughter.
A case status conference was scheduled in ongoing litigation against Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) for July 1, 2014. The litigation brought by Bonnie Kohleriter and Laura Leigh, founder and President of Wild Horse Education, addresses both an historic lack of access to horse and burro roundups at the Refuge and Sheldon Mustangs repeatedly finding themselves in the slaughter pipeline.
In federal court John Kasbohm, Director of the Refuge, told the Judge that Sheldon changed it’s contract from the year prior and that horses removed in 2013 would be protected. Very quickly it was discovered that these “changes” were inadequate. J&S Associates (Stan Palmer) was allowing individuals to take horses for suspicious purposes.
Sheldon horses have undergone mass vasectomies and hysterectomies on the range that has resulted in less than a 5% birth rate on the range, yet horses were taken by one individual for “breeding.” It was also discovered that older mares were shipped for purposes of “rodeo.” In one such incident an employee of J&S posted on Facebook for people to “come and get ‘em” post that referenced these horses in the context of a possible rodeo occurring onsite at J&S and multiple replies that included taking some of the horses to slaughter. In prior years J&S could not account for all of the horses they received, a recipient admitting to taking horses to slaughter and foals in their care deteriorating from improper care.
A few of these foals were rescued from J&S with the whereabouts of others still not known. The rescue came too late for one foal named “Apatchy,” because of the spot on his flank, who was euthanized due to malnutrition and severe permanent damage to his feet.
“I am relieved that this issue was taken seriously enough for Sheldon officials to investigate and take appropriate action,” stated Laura Leigh, “I am heartbroken that not even a small token herd of Sheldon Mustangs will remain after the removal this year. These are the wild horses that first drew me to the range. My grandfather served in the cavalry in World War l. The wild horses from this area served in the cavalry in World War I. Never again in my lifetime will I be able to travel these ranges and see these amazing animals that transport me back in time when there was real pride in being an American. I am more than saddened. But at least the legacy of the the Sheldon Mustang ends with us all trying to give them a safe place to land instead of the going to the most horrifying death imaginable.”
Sheldon Mustangs were once part of an area where the government contracted for cavalry remounts. It is estimated in military records that nearly 500 horses a week shipped to Europe at the height of World War I, many of them taken from the area now known as Sheldon.
PLEASE NOTE: WE are awaiting final announcement of current contractors to ensure safe landing for the last of the Sheldon Mustangs.
To read the history of our FIVE year long fight to protect these horses go here: http://wildhorseeducation.org/wild-horse-news-wednesday-weekly/
Wild Horse Education is devoted to gaining protections for wild horses from abuse, slaughter and extinction
Categories: Wild Horse Education