Judge Miranda Du clears the lane to continue the wild horse record hunt

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A federal judge cleared the way for the US Bureau of Land Management to round up thousands of wild horses in eastern Nevada, part of what officials expect will be a record 19,000 mustangs captured in 10 western states.

The previous record of 13,066 captured horses was only set last year.

Activists had sued the bureau, arguing that the government was violating US law by “unnecessarily and recklessly” killing Mustangs during the herding process.

Government data shows that an average of 1.1% of horses died during annual reunions from 2010 to 2019. Eleven of 1,048 horses caught Wednesday in Nevada have died this year, the bureau reported, saying that matches the annual mortality rate.

The gatherings are necessary because the wild animals are threatened by extreme drought, limited food and overpopulation, Justice Department attorney Maggie Smith Smith told U.S. District Judge Miranda Du on Wednesday.

In 2021, the previous record of 13,066 captured horses was set.
AP Photo/Scott Sonner

“This is a very high priority (for the Bureau),” Smith said. The Bureau plans to conclude the meeting by the end of February.

“Wild horses and donkeys that survive raids are placed in state camps,” according to the American Wild Horse Campaign. “Those who cannot be adopted or auctioned off will be sentenced to be stored in long-term camps for life. In the worst case, wild horses end up in the slaughterhouse.”

Dust rises above the government pens on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 in Palomino Valley, Nevada.  A damning independent scholarly study of wild horse predations in the West concludes that the US government should probably let nature wipe out the herds instead.  A 14-member panel assembled by the National Research Council of the National Science Academy at the request of the Bureau of Land Management concluded that the BLM's removal of nearly 100,000 horses from its western range over the past decade is likely the opposite of their intent works to alleviate environmental damage and reduce overpopulated herds.  (AP Photo/Scott Sonner)
Activists sued the US Bureau of Land Management, arguing that the government was violating US law by killing mustangs “unnecessarily and recklessly.”
AP Photo/Scott Sonner

Resistance to the Nevada raid was led by Laura Leigh, Wild Horse Education, Animal Wellness Action and the non-profit CANA Foundation.

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