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From an article in the LA Times by John Glionna
LAS VEGAS — Another showdown is looming between the federal government and animal advocates over the wild horses that wander the American West.
Last week, 486 horses were gathered from the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone reservation in northern Nevada during a three-day roundup.
Tribal officials say the animals were traditional pests that cost them money to maintain. But wild horse advocates claim that many of the animals were wild mustangs that should have been protected by the federal Bureau of Land Management under the 1973 Wild Horse and Burro Act.
Laura Leigh, founder of Wild Horse Education, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Nevada, claiming that the BLM participated in the roundup instead of protecting the horses as the law requires.
The suit demands that the agency halt an auction scheduled for Saturday in Fallon, Nev., until it can determine which horses are unbranded and wild.
It also alleges that wild horses were removed through an agreement with tribal authorities, the U.S. Forest Service and the BLM. Many unbranded wild horses were removed, including those residing in an area of BLM-managed public land, it says.
Leigh told the Los Angeles Times that many of the horses collected may have been from BLM-managed land traveling the area in their normal seasonal migratory patterns.
She said the horses to be auctioned Saturday would probably be purchased by so-called kill buyers, who would ship them to slaughterhouses in Mexico. Such slaughterhouses in the U.S. were closed in 2007, but there have been recent court battles over whether to allow such slaughter to resume in the U.S.
“The reservation land can only support about 100 horses,” Leigh said. “We believe that the other horses headed for auction and probably death are mustangs that the BLM should have protected.”
In a post on her website, Leigh said: “I am literally ill that the horses that we have fought so long and hard to protect may now face certain death. I pray that the courts can suspend this sale and help sort this out before it is too late.” READ THE REST HERE: http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-77043098/
The court action came to an end with the Judge ruling that the horses were the property of the Pauite Reservation. However during the process of court actions the unbranded horses were sorted and separated. A huge effort purchased all of the unbranded and they have gone to various rescues across the West. The branded horses, more than half, were also purchased by rescues.
Wild Horse Education has two young fillies in our care that were in need. One filly was orphaned after sorting and the other came to us as her mom was failing to thrive. The public named them Faith and Dawn. The girls are doing well are are leading on halter and picking up their feet. We continue to work with them to give them the best we can after such a tragic start in life.