LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The wheels of justice turn slowly, and advocates for wild horses are enduring a painful wait while a roundup in eastern Nevada continues.
So far, 29 horses have died in the Antelope Complex South and North roundups. Antelope-South concluded July 26 with 10 deaths counted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Antelope-North is continuing as a lawsuit seeking to stop the roundup goes through the court. That roundup has gathered 1,480 horses (575 stallions, 679 mares and 226 foals) and 19 deaths have been recorded in the herd.
The BLM reports that four of those deaths were “acute/unexpected,” including one 20-year-old mare that was “humanely euthanized” after it broke its neck during the roundup. That death came five days after Laura Leigh of Wild Horse Education notified 8 News Now that a lawsuit had been filed to stop the roundup.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on July 26 but stamped by the court on Aug. 1.
On Monday, Aug. 7, the Bureau of Land Management is scheduled to file a response to a request for a temporary restraining order (TRO). If the court decides there’s merit to Wild Horse Education’s case, it will proceed to a hearing for the TRO, which will not happen until Thursday, Aug. 10 at the earliest.
The Antelope-North roundup began July 9, planned to take 2,000 horses off the range. On several days, the roundup has gathered more than 100 horses, including July 28, when 177 horses were captured.
The roundup could easily conclude by the time the court makes a decision.
The lawsuit cites a number of objections to continued roundup operations including:
- A pattern of repeatedly denying public access to view the capture and handling of wild horses.
- Continuing to operate during heat index warnings.
- Operating the helicopter during foaling season and in a manner in which young foals fall behind and are separated from their mothers, often left out on the range alone and lost.
- Setting traps in unsafe locations containing barbed wire fencing.
- Inhumanely and untimely euthanizing animals suffering from catastrophic, life-threatening injuries.
- Gathering horses in traps that are not safely enclosed such that the animals escape and cause themselves injury and death.
The lawsuit further details the case of one horse’s injury and subsequent euthanization:
A Palomino stallion known to Plaintiffs was captured on July 13, 2023. He jumped the fence of the enclosure and suffered a compound break of his back leg. Instead, of shooting the horse at a distance, he was pursued for over thirty (30) minutes before being shot. The inhumane treatment of this beloved horse is unacceptable and violates the humane handling requirements of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. 16 U.S.C. § 1331, et seq. Thus, BLM must be ordered to immediately and humanely euthanize animals who are suffering from catastrophic, life-threatening injuries and ensure that horses are safely enclosed in traps such that they cannot escape and cause themselves further injury.
Wild Horse Education, a nonprofit corporation, and Leigh are represented by De Castroverde Law Group in Las Vegas and Greenfire Law of Berkeley, California.
Horses gathered in the south portion of the roundup are headed for the Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center in Reno. Horses from the north will go to the Indian Lakes Facility at Fallon.
The horses will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption program (www.blm.gov/whb). Those that are not placed into a new home will go to off-range pastures.