Federal Court Grants Wild Horse Advocates’ Request to Intervene in Nevada Ranchers’ Lawsuit Against Wild Horses

RENO, NEVADA (April 3, 2014)…. Yesterday, the U.S. District Court District of Nevada granted a motion by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), author Terri Farley and wild horse photographer Mark Terrell to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) and the Nevada Farm Bureau against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The lawsuit seeks to compel the BLM to immediately roundup more than 6,000 wild horses from Nevada public lands, conduct wild horse and burro roundups every two months in the state, and to “auction, sell or otherwise dispose of” the 50,000 wild horses and burros currently stockpiled in government warehousing facilities.

“Our clients wanted to intervene in the case to defend wild horses from the pro-ranching special interests and prevent the government from acceding to their claims that the horses must be removed from the public lands to protect the private livestock that is allowed to graze on the same lands at taxpayer expense --- especially when the Plaintiffs in this lawsuit seem intent on seeing these national icons sold for slaughter,” said Michelle Sinnott, of Meyer, Glitzenstein and Crystal, the Washington-DC based law firm that is representing AWHPC, Ms. Farley and Mr. Terrell.

Last year, the BLM settled a similar legal attack by pro-ranching interests in Wyoming, agreeing to decimate nearly half of the state’s remaining wild horse population.

Under the current Administration, the BLM has rounded up so many wild horses that the number of mustangs stockpiled in government warehouses (50,000) now exceeds the number that remain free in the wild (under 33,000).

According to AWHPC, the NACO lawsuit is part of a broader push from pro-slaughter advocates -- including those who currently sit on the BLM's own national and Nevada advisory boards.

The Interior Department Inspector General is currently investigating the BLM’s sale of 1,700 wild horses to a known slaughter kill buyer, Tom Davis. More than one year later, the results of the investigation have not been released. At least 1,000 of the horses are unaccounted for and are believed to have been shipped to Mexico for slaughter.

National opinion polls indicate that 80 percent of Americans oppose horse slaughter, 72 percent support protecting wild horses on public lands, while just 29 percent want public lands used for livestock grazing.

Last year, the National Academy of Sciences endorsed a fertility control vaccine known as PZP as a viable alternative to the roundup and removal of wild horses from the range. Despite this, the BLM has failed to implement fertility control, and stubbornly pursued the unsustainable policy of rounding up and removing wild horses from the range and warehousing them in government holding facilities. In 2013, the BLM spent less than one percent of its budget on fertility control.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. AWHPC’s founding organization, Return to Freedom (RTF), a national non-profit dedicated to wild horse preservation through sanctuary, education and conservation, also operates the American Wild Horse Sanctuary in Lompoc, CA.

Terri Farley is a full-time author who lives in the Reno area spends a significant amount of time observing wild horses, both on the range and in the holding facilities. She is the author of the Phantom Stallion book series, which has sold over a million copies worldwide and is currently working on a new book, Wild at Heart: Mustangs and the Young People Fighting to Save Them, scheduled to be released in the Spring of 2015.

Mark Terrell owns the Dayton-based Wild Horses of Nevada Photography. He is a nationally-known wild horse photographer and operator of tours that provide visitors with the opportunity to view, experience and photograph the wild horses of Nevada.

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