June 27, 2023
Many of the debates over Nevada’s wild horse population and management take place on social media. But on Thursday, Sen. Ira Hansen (R-Sparks) and Oregon-based animal rights activist Scott Beckstead took their debate over wild horses and their impacts on the Silver State off the internet and onto a debate stage in Elko County.
Over the objections of wild horse advocates, a judge cleared the way Wednesday night for the U.S. government to continue capturing thousands of mustangs in Nevada despite the deaths of 31 horses during the weekslong roundup. In a ruling from the bench after a seven-hour hearing in Reno, U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks said he was denying Wild Horse Education`s bid for an emergency order to halt the roundup the nonprofit advocacy group argues is inhumane and illegal.
A judge has asked federal land managers to explain why they should be allowed to continue capturing more than 2,500 wild horses in northeastern Nevada — a roundup opponents say is illegal and has left 31 mustangs dead in 26 days.
Nearly a dozen wild horses have died in the first 10 days of a big mustang roundup in Nevada, deaths that a Las Vegas congresswoman is calling tragic proof of the urgent need to outlaw helicopters to capture the animals on federal land. The 11 deaths so far include five young foals, four horses with broken necks and a stallion with a snapped rear leg that was chased by a helicopter and horseback rider as it tried to flee on three legs for 35 minutes before it was euthanized, according to witnesses.
According to a report by the U. S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), more than half of the nation’s wild horses and burros dwell on Nevada’s public lands, which is estimated to be 45,000 horses and 4,500 burros, despite the entire West being able to support around only 27,000 total.