Nevada roundup of wild horses in need of water resumes

In January 2004, the Bureau of Land Management rounded up 251 wild horses from the Lahontan Herd Management Area in Nevada.
In January 2004, the Bureau of Land Management rounded up 251 wild horses from the Lahontan Herd Management Area in Nevada. (Lisa Tolda/reno Gazette-journal Via Associated Press)
By Martin Griffith
Monday, July 19, 2010

RENO, NEV. -- Federal land managers have removed about 250 more wild horses from a Nevada range after a judge allowed a controversial roundup of the animals to resume.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Doran Sanchez said the roundup in northern Elko County resumed shortly after U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks rescinded a temporary restraining order on Friday.

The judge took the action at the request of the agency, which said that more than 500 horses could die of dehydration within a week if the roundup didn't continue.

Horse advocates had sought to halt the roundup, saying it was inhumane to herd the animals by helicopter to trapping sites in the hot summer weather.

The BLM suspended the roundup the previous weekend when seven horses died of dehydration and water intoxication after being herded on the first day of the roundup.

The BLM reported four more deaths Saturday, bringing to 17 the number that have died since the roundup began. The agency has blamed 13 of the deaths on a lack of water on the range and not the roundup. Three other horses were put down because of physical deformities, Sanchez said, and another because of a broken leg.

BLM officials said most of the 246 horses gathered Friday and Saturday were being treated for dehydration and water starvation, as were 228 horses collected last weekend.

But officials said they were encouraged because other mustangs rounded up Saturday appeared to be in better condition as a result of more than 30,000 gallons of water that has been hauled to the roundup area by the agency.

"We're surmising it's a direct result that they're starting to use water we're putting out for them," Sanchez said. "But we anticipate there are 300 more animals out there in potential serious situations resulting from a lack of water."

In his ruling, Hicks also ordered the BLM to provide reasonable access to the roundup to horse advocate and author Laura Leigh of Minden, who sought the temporary restraining order to halt the operation.

But the agency denied Leigh and other activists access to the roundup Saturday by staging it on private property, said Anne Novak of the horse advocacy group Cloud Foundation, based in Colorado.

"Obviously, the BLM wants to prevent the public from seeing the baby horses and older horses killed as a result of the roundup," she said. "This censorship needs to stop."

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