Colvin & Son LLC and Stone Cabin Ranch LLC filed suit against the Bureau of Land Management, along with its parent agency, the U.S. Department of the Interior, on Oct. 17 in U.S. District Court in Nevada.
The suit centers around the wild horse overpopulation in an area known as the Stone Cabin Complex. The ranchers are arguing that despite a survey earlier this year determining that hundreds of mustangs need to be removed and that over the next decade, fertility drugs need to be administered to wild mares, the government has not lived up to its promises.
Colvin & Son and Stone Cabin Ranch hold a permit to graze cattle on the 540,000-acre swath of land. According to reports, the BLM estimates, based on an April environmental assessment that the land can support about 242 to 404 horses. As of last fall, over 900 horses were grazing on the land.
Despite the BLM’s acknowledgment of the need for better management to control the wild horse population within the Stone Cabin Complex, the government has yet to take action — removal processes require off-range corral space and funding.
The “lack of implementation” of the roundup decision violates the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses & Burros Act, “causing harm to the plaintiffs, to the public lands within the (Stone Cabin Complex), to wildlife species and their habitats, and to the wild horses themselves,” the lawsuit states.
Following the rejection of their appeal against the deferred roundup by the Department of the Interior, the ranchers took legal action.
The most recent removal of wild horses from the Stone Cabin Complex occurred in 2021 when the BLM collected 314 mustangs by baiting them into traps with water.
The environmental assessment indicates that the population could increase to over 1,100 horses within three years or three times what the land can handle.
This isn’t the first suit that the ranchers have filed. According to the Las Vegas Sun, Colvin & Son LLC filed a similar lawsuit in May, alleging a delay in a roundup around the Little Fish Lake Joint Management Area, located about 60 miles northeast of Tonopah. In that area, the BLM estimated there were 323 wild horses on land that could support only 24 to 39.
The Little Fish Lake Case is still pending.
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Author: Heidi Crnkovic