The Nevada Farm Bureau Federation and the Nevada Association of Counties named three defendants in their lawsuit filed December 30th in US District Court.
The groups say the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) should “destroy” horses that are judged to be unadoptable rather than keeping them in crowded ranches, reported the Elko Daily Free Press.
The agency has removed close to 100,000 horses from the Western range over the past ten years, citing a federal law that mandates the protection of “natural ecological balance” on public lands and the removal of excess horses.
The BLM agrees that wild horses are exceeding the designated appropriate management levels. On its website, the BLM indicates there were more than 20,000 wild horses and burros in the state last fiscal year, but the maximum management level is set at about 12,700.
Usually, the BLM will conduct horse gathers, where they round up wild horses for adoption. Those horses repeatedly passed over for adoption are sent to ranches to live out the lives, but those facilities are starting to reach capacity.
In 2011, the BLM was sued by horse advocates who argued the agency was in violation of the federal act because it needed to prove wild horses were a threat to “thriving natural ecological balance” before rounding up horses on the range, according to the Associated Press.