Feds: Wild Horse Removal Can't Be Accelerated

June 26, 2014

Federal land managers say a lawsuit by Nevada ranchers and others demanding acceleration of wild horse roundups doesn't pass legal muster, but even is if it did, they don't have the money or the room at U.S. corrals to gather more mustangs.

Interior Department lawyers have filed a motion in federal court in Reno to dismiss the suit by the Nevada Association of Counties and Nevada Farm Bureau Federation.

It comes on the heels of a separate motion to dismiss the case, filed by horse advocates, but for very different reasons.

The government lawyers agree with the ranchers' contention that the roughly 40,000 wild horses roaming 10 Western states are more than the land can sustain, but say the Bureau of Land Management is hamstrung to round up more of them, because of budget cuts. 

The agency removed about 8,000 animals from the range in 2012, but only about half that number last year, partly because of budget constraints.

They also say a congressional ban on the sale of excess horses for slaughter has pushed their holding facilities to the brink of their capacity.