Martin Griffith, Associated Press (AP)
Wild horse advocates are seeking to halt
federal land managers' plans to remove all mustangs from a large swath of
eastern Nevada, saying the animals deserve protection under federal law
RENO, Nev. (AP) - Wild horse advocates are seeking to halt federal land
managers' plans to remove all mustangs from a large swath of eastern Nevada,
saying the animals deserve protection under federal law.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has started removing 350 horses
southwest of Ely and plans to begin removing 270 more in October near
Caliente. The roundups affect all wild horses in an area around Ely covering
1.4 million acres or more than 2,000 square miles.
Horse defender Christine Jubic of Albany, N.Y., filed a petition last week
for an emergency order to halt the roundup with the Interior Board of Land
Appeals until it can rule on her appeal challenging the roundup.
The roundup began Wednesday, five days after the BLM's Ely district released
an environmental study that concluded it had no significant impact.
"They're trying to do it quietly under the radar," Jubic said. "These
animals are supposed to enjoy federal protections, and the BLM is out to
eradicate them off of our public lands altogether."
Jeffrey Weeks, manager of a BLM Ely-area field office, said all horses are
being removed in some areas because studies found insufficient forage and
water to maintain healthy wild horses and rangelands.
The agency still plans to manage 810 to 1,695 horses on 3.7 million other
acres in the Ely area, a region that encompasses some 12 million acres, or
18,750 square miles, he said.
"(Jubic's appeal) is an individual right and I respect that," Weeks said.
"But it's primarily desert out there. We look at resources and what they can
Craig Downer of Minden, a wildlife ecologist who holds a master's of science
degree at the University of Nevada, Reno, said he found plenty of forage and
water to support the horses on a recent trip to eastern Nevada. He said
ranchers view the horses as competition for forage, and the BLM is removing
them to appease ranchers.
"It's a trumped-up thing they're doing," he said. "To say they're
overpopulated is such a distortion of truth. Thousands of people love wild
horses and want to know they're still out there."
Robert S. More, director of the Interior Office of Hearings and Appeals,
declined to comment on Jubic's appeal. But he said any petition for a stay
must be decided within 45 days by the Board of Land Appeals.
complained that the initial roundup could be over by the time the board
rules on her request.
The horses will be sent to a BLM corral to be readied for adoption or
Horse advocates said the roundups will exacerbate a problem that has led to
nearly as many horses being kept in long-term corrals as on the range.
The problem has become so great that BLM officials last year considered for
the first time euthanizing some wild horses to reduce the population.
Under a 1971 law, the BLM manages nearly 37,000 wild horses in 10 Western
states, some 10,350 more than the agency says public rangelands can support.
Off the range, more than 31,000 other wild
horses are cared for in corrals and pastures.
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