Judge Grants TRO to Stop Sale of Wild Horses At NV Slaughter Auction


Order could delay tomorrow’s sale of nearly 500 horses at Fallon Livestock Exchange

Gordon Cowan photo by Laura Leigh, Horseback Magazine

RENO, (Wild Horse Education) – A federal court judge in Reno, NV has granted a coalition of wild horse advocacy and conservation groups a Temporary Restraining Order to block the sale of unbranded horses at a slaughter auction tomorrow in Fallon, Nevada. The groups sued to stop the sale of unbranded horses who were captured last weekend oGordon-Cowan-2-in-72n public and tribal lands in northern Nevada, alleging that unbranded horses were likely federally-protected wild horses originating from the nearby Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Little Owyhee Herd Management Area.

The order throws into question tomorrow’s auction at the Fallon Livestock Exchange, where nearly 500 horses are sitting in pens awaiting their fate. The horses in question were rounded up by the Fort McDermitt Paiute Shoshone tribe with approval of the U.S. Forest Service and the BLM. In response to the lawsuit filed by the public interest firm Meyer, Gltizenstein & Crystal with local counsel Gordon B. Cowan on behalf of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, its founding organization Return to Freedom, The Cloud Foundation, the Western Watersheds Project and advocate Laura Leigh, U.S. District Court Judge Miranda M. Du found:

“Plaintiffs have shown serious questions …that wild horses were improperly rounded up during the gather from August 11-13, 2013. .. Plaintiffs have demonstrated an immediate threat of irreparable harm if the status quo is not maintained, that is the sale of wild horses and their possible slaughter. . . . The public interest is served when the Court maintains the status quo to ensure wild horses are not improperly removed and auctioned for sale to potentially be slaughtered because of an agency action.”

Du’s TRO prohibits the sale of all unbranded horses at tomorrow’s slaughter auction until the hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, August 21, 2013.

“Judge Du has stepped in to do what the federal government refused to do: act to prevent federally protected wild horses from being sold at a slaughter auction,” said Suzanne Roy, Director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. “We are grateful for this federal court decision, but remain outraged by the federal government’s complicity in this dirty operation that has sentenced hundreds of horses to horrific deaths at slaughter houses in Canada and Mexico.”

“Like the nearly 170 horses that I rescued from this livestock auction three years ago, many of these horses are wild horses who were removed from federal lands. They were denied federal protection under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, and the judge has taken a stand for all those mares, foals, yearlings and mature stallions who are a day away from being sold to kill buyers and sent to slaughter,” said Ellie Phipps Price, AWHPC supporter and owner of the renowned Durell Vineyard in Sonoma, California. “The tribes and the U.S. government need to choose birth control for wild horses over roundup and slaughter.”

“We want to get to the bottom of this and understand how wild horses may have been compromised through stealth negotiations between the federal government and the tribe,” said Neda DeMayo, President of Return to Freedom. “It is the legal responsibility of the Forest Service and the BLM to preserve and protect wild horses on our public lands. When wild horses roam outside of their designated Herd Management Areas, it should be the concern of these agencies to return them to their rangelands- not support covert horse trading deals sending wild horses to auction and slaughter.”

“Sometimes the fight to protect our wild horses is difficult and complex. This decision shows that when we all work together and stay the course, we can achieve our mutual goals,” said Laura Leigh, founder of Wild Horse Education. “I am proud to be part of this effort. Together, we can turn this around to save America’s mustangs on our public lands in the West.”

A total of 467 horses were captured by the tribe and delivered to the slaughter auction, where they await their fate. An undetermined number of these horses are unbranded and likely to be wild horses. The Forest Service has acknowledged that most of these horses will be purchased by kill buyers and trucked to slaughter plants in Canada or Mexico. Photographs of the horses show hundreds of mares and foals, along with yearlings and adults crammed into pens at the stockyard.

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16 comments for “Judge Grants TRO to Stop Sale of Wild Horses At NV Slaughter Auction

  1. Robynne Catheron
    August 17, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    God bless Mr Cowan Judge Du, and all the advocates who worked so tirelessly to right this huge, senseless wrongdoing. I’ll be praying for heavenly guidance for Wednesday’s judge, that he or she rules for the plaintiffs and our beloved wild horses. Go Team!

  2. Nancy L
    August 17, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Thank you all for helping these horses. As I have been saying this is The Horses Story.
    We are their voices and they are saying thank you…

  3. Corinne Brown
    August 17, 2013 at 9:13 am

    What a shame on these tribe members who sold out these animals. For what?
    Thanks to Gordon Cowan for staying their fate.I hope the animals will be be free once more.

  4. Marta
    August 17, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Gordon, Laura, Judge Du….thank you for restoring my faith in the system, in life, and giving me the hope and inspiration to keep on fighting .

  5. Theresa
    August 17, 2013 at 3:06 am

    Thank you Gordonv Cowan, for doing the right thing. Thank you to all that advocate for the horses. Amen…..

  6. Barbara Griffith
    August 17, 2013 at 1:16 am

    The BLM and the Forest Service should both be removed from having any control over what happens to the Mustangs. The Mustangs should be managed by a group of knowledgeable horse people that has only the welfare of the Mustangs that they are responsible for. Because the BLM is not ever going to quit as far as rounding up and destroying every Mustang herd that is left in the western states.

    • Joanne
      August 17, 2013 at 8:24 am

      You are so right Barbara..they have done a great injustice to the animals they were put in charge of…so they should not have that opportunity again…we should have people who will work with our wildlife, not against them.

  7. Margaret
    August 17, 2013 at 1:14 am

    I LOVE Mr. Cowan! He is a wonderful man. A true horse warrior extraordinaire!

  8. Gayle
    August 17, 2013 at 1:08 am

    Thank you to Gordon B. Cowan AND . District Court Judge Miranda M. Du

  9. Nona
    August 17, 2013 at 12:53 am

    My hat goes off to Gordon Cowan. And a HUGE Thank You to U.S. District Court Judge Miranda M. Du.

    This has been a dark day; and now to know there is someone who is doing the right thing it is a great feeling for now.

    Our Govt. fails miserably on doing what is right. Thank you to all who worked so hard in such a short time for our equine friends at the Fallon Sale barn. I hope they feed them right. My Calls today to BLM went unanswered. Sad to know the Tribes horses are sent to slaughter auction. They appear to have no reservations on having them sent to Canada or Mexico. I use to think Indians respected and loved horses.

  10. Monika Courtney
    August 16, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    This news made my day – GREAT work troops !!! Thank you all who pulled this off – let’s hope they will be safe – thank you all so much !!

    Teamwork is a beautiful thing – thank you all who worked on this together – that is the only way to go to effect change for the horses. I hope to see more of this – because it’s power and represents something. And it will get the horses help as they need all of us, every single one.
    I wish someone could help the Indian Ponies… Keep up the good work and the fight.

    • admin
      August 16, 2013 at 11:48 pm

      Special recognition needs to go out to Gordon Cowan.

      • Monika Courtney
        August 17, 2013 at 1:09 am

        Absolutely. I already thanked Gordon on facebook. He is a stout example of unwavering devotion to the wild horses and their just treatment.

      • Lori Schmidt
        August 17, 2013 at 5:52 am

        Gordon Cowan rocks!!!! Thanks to everyone who pulled together to achieve this result, this is what it is all about, lets keep the momentum going now!.

      • Michelle Freshteh Brown
        August 17, 2013 at 7:25 am

        Gordie you are the best ! Always stopping the evil that’s happening to the mustangs / Burros !! Biggest hugs to a great man :-)

    • KIM
      August 17, 2013 at 8:33 am

      Thanks Judge, the world is watching….. sad day in this world, when they round them up like that……. Kim Kenner, Vancouver, B.C. Canada

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