On Thursday, Jan. 10, Honorable Judge Miranda M. Du lifted the emergency Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that suspended the Owyhee Wild Horse Gather near Elko, Nevada. The written order lifted the TRO subject to specific provisions outlined in the Order with respect to the gather operations.
The Plaintiff filed the emergency TRO against the BLM in District Court in Reno, alleging the BLM’s Owyhee Gather, specifically the portion being gathered in the Elko District in the Owyhee Herd Management Area (HMA), was not authorized because there were no “excess horses.” Judge Du determined the Plaintiff was unlikely to succeed on the merits of this claim; the Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that she will suffer harm if the TRO is lifted consistent with the provisions included in the Court’s Order; the potential harm to defendants if a TRO is issued is the temporary suspension of gather activities, which costs the federal government roughly $18-20,000 each day; and the public interest is served when actions are taken to achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on public lands. The BLM’s roundup of excess horses helps achieve this goal. The BLM already has accumulated delay costs of more than $100,000.
Gather operations have resumed today in the Owyhee HMA. The public is welcome to attend the remainder of the gather, but is encouraged to call the gather information line to RSVP as they must be escorted out to the gather site due to private land restrictions. The Wild Horse Gather Information Line is available at (775) 861-6700. A recorded message will provide information on daily gather activities and updated gather schedules. The BLM will also post daily gather reports on its website at: http://bit.ly/Owyhee.
The gathered wild horses will be transported to the Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Corrals near Susanville, Calif., where they will be prepared for the BLM adoption program. Un-adopted horses will be placed in long-term pastures where they will be humanely cared for and will retain their “wild” status and protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The BLM does not sell or send any horses for slaughter.
The BLM Winnemucca District, Humboldt River Field Office; and the Elko District, Tuscarora Field Office initiated the Owyhee Complex Wild Horse Gather on Monday, Nov. 26, 2012. The Owyhee Complex is located approximately 60 miles north of Midas in Elko and Humboldt counties and is comprised of the Owyhee, Snowstorm Mountains, Little Owyhee, Little Humboldt and Rock Creek HMAs.
The first portion of the gather took place in the Little Owyhee HMA from Nov. 26 until a holiday break beginning Dec. 21. In that portion, 819 wild horses were gathered, with two released back to the range. The gather resumed Jan. 4 in the Owyhee HMA where 186 wild horses are planned to be gathered, and 54 wild horses were gathered that day prior to the emergency TRO. Of the 186 horses gathered from the Owyhee HMA, 47 will be removed from the range with the remainder being released back to the range. Of these, approximately 46 mares will be vaccinated with PZP-22, a fertility control vaccine, prior to release. Any horses gathered above the targeted removal numbers will be released back to the HMAs.