LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Several groups are fighting to stop the federal government from capturing Nevada’s wild horses and new video obtained by the 8 News Now I-Team is one reason wild horse advocates argue the roundups need to end.
Wild horse advocates filed a federal lawsuit to stop what they call “cruel, unjustified and secretive and roundups.”
“The harm that it causes, this callousness is beyond description,” said Laura Leigh who heads the Reno-based advocacy group Wild Horse Education which provided the video to the I-Team.
The video shows what happened to one young horse that broke its leg during a helicopter roundup. Advocates say the colt should have been euthanized immediately, but that’s not what happened.
“The roundup should cease. The priority should not be getting that band into the trap,” Leigh said. “Everything should stop and that horse should be put down immediately. Not roped, not put on a trailer and made to be driven down a bumpy road while it tries to stand on three legs, as a baby, for who knows how long before they finally put it out of its suffering.”
Leigh’s group, along with two other non-profits filed the lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM to stop this operation.
The land where the roundup is taking place is known as the Pancake Complex. It’s nearly 1.2 million acres 30 miles west of Ely. The BLM insists there’s only enough food and water for more than 600 horses and estimates the current population is at more than 3,200. The captured horses will go to holding facilities where they could be adopted or auctioned. In some cases, adopted horses have been sold to slaughterhouses.
Advocates say birth control through darts is a better alternative to control the population.
Leigh points to consistent failures to plan by the BLM.
“We have plans for mines, plans for livestock, plans to protect sage grouse, but we don’t have management plans for wild horses,” she said.
She adds this roundup should have never happened at this time of year because lower temperatures make the ground slippery as horses try to get away.
According to the lawsuit, the colt suffered with a broken leg for 29 minutes until he was finally euthanized.
Leigh also points to video of other captured horses.
“What they were doing in loading is slamming the gate on the horse at the back of the trailer to get the horse to load, slamming his back legs, trying to get him to lift his legs.”
She believes these actions violate a policy for humane treatment of the animals she previously fought for and said the video shows a lack of enforcement.
“It’s really rough when the person doing the abuse is also in charge of policing that abuse,” she said.
According to the BLM’s website, 11 horses have been euthanized during this current roundup. More than 900 have been captured since this started last Tuesday.
Leigh says her team is on the ground near the roundup to continue to try to document what’s happening but they’re being kept a mile-and-a-half away.
The I-Team first aired a story about this on Jan. 14 and the story received a big response.