Again a hasty blog post…. WHAT AN INSANE WEEK!
Dominating the wild horse and burro world this last week was the auction of wild horses at the Fallon Livestock Exchange. Originally intended to be over 700 horses, the rapidly changing situation saw the Forest Service (kinda sorta) drop out of an agreement with tribal authorities. However, somehow, that agreement still allowed unbranded horses to be removed off of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in the area of the Little Owyhee Herd Management Area (HMA), which is adjacent to tribal lands.
The first court action filed against this insanity of jurisdictional games was an amended complaint in the ongoing suit against BLM by Wild Horse Education (WHE) President Laura Leigh. This case concerns inappropriate and inadequate determination of excess horses in the Owyhee Complex by BLM. Because the current group of horses was unbranded and was coming from BLM land, and because of the ongoing active legal case regarding inappropriate determination, a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) was filed by WHE against BLM. The Judge found that there was no “action” to enjoin BLM.
Yet later that same day (Friday) after an intense hearing in the first matter, a TRO was granted in a second legal case filed by a coalition (AWHPC, TCF, WWP and WHE) against the Forest Service. At around 7 pm the TRO to block the sale of the unbranded horses came through. HERE>>>
The next day, Saturday August 17, was the date of the auction of the branded horses. After the owner of the Livestaock Exchange was served with the TRO and the flared tempers finally subsided, Laura of WHE and Deniz and Suzanne of AWHPC were allowed to inspect pens of horses headed for auction. Earlier that day staff from the livestock exchange allegedly sorted out the unbranded, but nearly 60 more unbranded horses were subsequently discovered by Laura, Deniz and Suzanne. The auction finally occurred. Two killbuyers were in attendance as well as rescues and private buyers. Over 100 of the branded went to rescues. Yet one of the groups had nowhere to put their horses and WHE volunteer Jessica Gardner offered a home she had just purchased and moved in to a few days prior to the auction.
The next day (August 18) unbranded horses were sorted into pens and placed in the parking lot of the livestock exchange. Leigh went and observed the horses documented as unbranded in order to present the information to the court for upcoming hearings. The horses showed wounds, inflicted by the roundup, that were beginning to heal and many of the horses were literally laying in the sand of the parking lot showing the fatigue of the week of roundup and sorting in the feedlot atmosphere of the auction yard.
The beginning of the week (August 19) was no less intense with preparation of the auction legal action in addition to preparation of thee other legal actions that WHE had hearings on all scheduled for the same day: Wednesday August 21st. (Laura Leigh of WHE also began radiation treatment for breast cancer at the beginning of this week). The BLM roundup at Fish Lake was postponed during this time and WHE had observers out in the field gaining documentation for upcoming actions.
On Wednesday August 21 in federal district court in Reno four motions were heard on wild horses. Update posted on our website the day of court:
Hearing at 1:30 on the horses in Fallon. The hearing produced a denial of the Restraining Order and Tribal Authorities are free to sell horses
Other news: The horse tripping ban in Clark county was upheld after considerable effort. The bill passed this session in the Nevada State Legislature was a sell out. Exactly what WHE predicted would happen did occur, in spite of reassurances from those that pushed us to drop our opposition to the bill. This bill will need to be revisited.
The BLM roundup at Fish Lake ended. A total of 122 horses were captured (target 150) and the operation was terminated as horses in the immediate area of concern had been removed. A stud that was a favorite of local residents was captured and released.
More news soon from Wild Horse Education. We are devoted to gaining protections from abuse, slaughter and extinction for wild horses and burros. Please consider making a donation to assist us in our work.