Nevada farm bureau, counties sue over wild horses

Cross-posted from the viral Associated Press article published in the San Francisco Chronicle for educational purposes:

Photo James Marvin Phelps / / CC BY-NC

Photo James Marvin Phelps / / CC BY-NC

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Two Nevada organizations have sued the federal government, alleging mismanagement of wild horses led to excessive damage to rangelands and the animals themselves.

The Nevada Farm Bureau Federation and the Nevada Association of Counties named Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, the Interior Department and the Bureau of Land Management as defendants in their lawsuit filed Dec. 30 in U.S. District Court in Nevada.

BLM spokeswoman Celia Boddington declined to comment on Sunday. “It’s under review,” she said.

The groups accuse the government of failing to comply with the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which requires the BLM to protect the “natural ecological balance of all wildlife species” on public lands and to remove “excess” horses and burros from the range.

They argue the BLM should “destroy” horses that are deemed unadoptable, the Elko Daily Free Press reported ( ). The BLM has opposed the sale of horses for slaughter.

The agency has removed nearly 100,000 horses from the Western range over the last decade, citing the requirements of the 1971 federal law. Horses passed over for adoption are sent to long-term facilities in the Midwest.

But the number of horses gathered last year declined as the BLM deals with budget constraints and a lack of capacity at short- and long-term holding facilities.

In addition to damaging public land and threatening private water rights, the government’s wild horse program is “first and foremost” detrimental to horses, according to the lawsuit.

“Free-roaming horse and burro herds in Nevada are frequently observed to be in malnourished condition, with the ribs and skeletal features of individual animals woefully on view and other signs of ill-health readily observable,” the complaint states.

Anne Novak, executive director of the horse advocacy group Protect Mustangs, said most wild herds are “healthy and fit,” and the groups’ claim that they are in poor condition appears to be a “skewed effort” to justify killing them because they don’t want to share water.

Some 1.75 million head of livestock grazing on public land outnumber wild horses by more than 50-to-1 and cause most of the range damage, she added.

“The plaintiffs have an arrogant sense of entitlement,” Novak told The Associated Press. “I’m grateful the American public will see how the plaintiffs allegedly intend on denying native wild horses the right to water and are requesting BLM destroy the majority of the roundup survivors. Their lawsuit will rally more voters to fight for wild horses to remain wild and free for future generations.”

Representatives of the two groups did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment Sunday.


Information from: Elko Daily Free Press,

Please comment at the San Francisco Chronicle article here


Nevada Association of Counties: Associate members

    • Bank of America
      Greg M. Titus, Sr. Vice President
      Nevada Government Banking
      401 South Virginia St. 2nd Floor
      Reno, NV 89501-2196
      (775) 688-8783
    • Barrick Gold Corporation
      Michael J. Brown, Vice President – U.S. Public Affairs
      101 Constitution Avenue, NW Suite 665 East
      Washington, D.C. 20001
      (202) 682-9499
    • ING
      Steve Platt, Regional Director
      844 West Nye Lane #101
      Carson City, NV 89703
      (775) 886-2402
    • Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County
      Lee Gibson, Executive Director
      P.O. Box 30002
      Reno, NV 89520-0002
      (775) 348-0400
    • Las Vegas Valley Water District
      Patricia Mulroy, General Manager
      1001 S. Valley View Blvd.
      Las Vegas, NV 89153
      (702) 870-2011
  • Newmont Mining Corporation
    Mary Korpi, Director, External Relations
    16555 Mountain City Highway
    Elko, NV 89801
    (775) 778-4000
  • Nevada State Bank                       Daniel Dykes, Vice President            P.O. Box 2351
    Reno, NV 89505
    (775) 783-6347                  
    • NV Energy
      Linda Bissett, Government Affairs Executive
      P.O. Box 10100
      Reno, NV 89520
      (775) 367-5681
    • Western Insurance Specialties
      Anne Peirce and
      Todd R. Biggs, Co-owners
      443 West Plumb Lane
      Reno, NV 89509
      (775) 826-2333 or
      (800) 342-0707
    • Willis Pooling
      Robert Lombard, Vice President
      1755 E. Plumb Lane, Suite 269
      Reno, NV 89502
      (775) 323-1656
    • Swendseid & Stern
      John Swendseid, Attorney At Law
      50 West Liberty, Suite 660
      Reno, NV 89501
      (775) 323-1980 or Las Vegas (702) 387-6073
    • Hobbs, Ong & Associates
      Guy S. Hobbs and
      Katherine W. Ong
      3900 Paradise Road, Suite 152
      Las Vegas, NV 89169
      (702) 733-7223
    • Lumos & Associates
      Charles L. Macquarie, P.E.
      Chief Executive Officer
      800 E. College Parkway
      Carson City, NV 89706
      (775) 883-7077
  • GE Energy
    Holly Spiers, Community Relations
    1631 Bently Pkwy, South
    Minden, NV 89423
    (775) 215-1500
    • Southwest Gas Corp.
      Debra Gallo, Director, Government and State Regulatory Affairs
      P.O. Box 98510
      Las Vegas, NV 89193
      (702) 876-7163
    • CenturyLink
      Brian McAnallen, Government/Business Affairs Manager
      330 S. Valley View Blvd.
      Las Vegas, NV 89107
      (702) 244-7500
    • The Hartford
      Tom Verducci, Regional Manager
      9850 Double R Blvd, Suite 201
      Reno, NV 89511
      (702) 862-1227
    • Nevada Public Agency Insurance Pool & Public Agency Compensation Trust
      Wayne Carlson, Executive Director
      201 S. Roop Street, Suite 201
      Carson City, NV 89701
      (775) 885-7475
    • Summit Engineering
      Benjamin H. Veach, P.E. AICP
      Project Manager
      5405 Mae Anne Avenue
      Reno, NV 89523
      (775) 747-8550
  • Union Pacific Railroad
    Wesley Lujan, Public Affairs
    915 L Street, Ste. 1180
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    (916) 789-5957

  • BEC Environmental
    Eileen Christensen, President            7660 West Sahara Ave, Ste. 150 Las Vegas, NV 89117                             (702) 304-9830