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Wild horse advocates win lawsuit that could change BLM’s herd management practices

Three wild horses are running across a rangeland covered in green-grey brush.
BLM Nevada
Flickr Creative Commons
Wild horses run across the rangeland in central Nevada's Pancake Complex during a BLM roundup in January 2022.

A federal judge in the Mountain West recently ruled in favor of wild horse advocates who sued federal land managers for failing to stick to their own rules.

In 2022, a roundup in central Nevada’s Pancake Complex gained attention after a video surfaced of a young wild horse with a broken leg running from a helicopter. That was one of 26 horses that died during the roundup, which removed roughly 2,000 horses from the 850,000-acre area.

U.S. District Court Judge Miranda Du in Reno ruled the Bureau of Land Management did not complete the necessary herd management plan and environmental review before the roundup.

Du gave the federal agency one year to adopt a plan for the long-term health of the herd and rangeland, and assess the potential effect that roundups have on the wildfire risks in the Pancake complex.

The ruling should help provide more protection for the estimated 73,000 wild horses roaming the West, said Manda Kalimian, founder of Rewilding America Now, one of the groups that sued the BLM.

“As American taxpayers, as citizens who care about our lands, the wild horses and all the other wildlife, we're just asking them to please abide by the system,” she said.

The BLM has 60 days to appeal.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.