A judge has lifted her temporary restraining order preventing a major Nevada roundup, but she has imposed conditions on federal authorities to ensure the horses are treated humanely.
US District Judge Miranda Du issued the restraining order over the Owyhee Complex muster on January 4 in response to legal action brought by wild horse advocate Laura Leigh.
Leigh, who travels the west monitoring wild horse roundups, had challenged the Bureau of Land Management over its humane handling practices.
On Thursday, Judge Du issuing a new temporary restraining order allowing the bureau to proceed with the muster, but imposed several conditions around the way in which the horses must be handled.
The order cites the court’s expectations for humane care.
An upcoming hearing for injunctive relief will give the parties an opportunity to address issues at the roundup in more depth. The date has yet to be set.
Leigh’s counsel, Gordon Cowan, said: “As an attorney I see a lot of work in order to ensure that treatment of America’s wild horses becomes truly humane in practice, yet this order from the Honorable Judge Miranda Du shows real promise that the conversation has truly begun.
“As a horse owner and lover, I simply have a smile on my face.”
Leigh was emotional over the decision. “I am in tears. Three years of running this grueling marathon from range to courtroom to gain an honest conversation about the inhumane handling of an American treasure now has the very first, specific language, toward actually gaining the first humane care standard in the history of the Act.
“I am literally in tears.”
The new order states:
- Defendant may conduct the planned wild horse gather and transport at the Owyhee HMA.
- Defendant must conduct the gather and transport in a humane fashion pursuant to 16 U.S.C. § 1333 (b)(2)(iv)(B) and 43 C.F.R. § 4700.0-5(e)-(f).
- Defendant cannot use “hot shot”/electric prod treatment on the 14 weanlings it plans to transport.
- Defendant cannot routinely use “hot shot”/electric prod treatment during the planned gather and transport of the adult horses. Defendant may only use such treatment as necessary to ensure the safety and security of the horses and handlers.
- Defendant cannot conduct the gather or transport in a manner where the horses are driven through barbed wire fences.
- Defendant must conduct the gather and transport in a manner ensuring that all foals are able to keep up with the drive, and none are left behind from the herd.
- To the extent Defendant uses such methods, Defendant cannot conduct the gather or transport in a manner where the horses are treated with rushed and aggressive loading tactics from the trap sites into the trucks.
- To the extent Defendant uses such methods, Defendant cannot conduct the gather or transport in a manner where the horses are rounded up from unsafe trap locations.
The cases, investigations and supporting documentation, are supported solely by Wild Horse Education, a registered Nevada non-profit. More information: http://wildhorseeducation.org/