Animal advocacy groups trying to stop the removal of wild horses from northwest Colorado will make their case in court. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says a hearing is scheduled Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New York on a lawsuit seeking to halt the roundup that started earlier this month.
The New York-based group, the Colorado-based Cloud Foundation and two Colorado residents have filed a lawsuit claiming the plan by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to remove an estimated 138 horses violates environmental laws and the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
The Cloud Foundation also claims a horse was roped, kicked, dragged and then euthanized during the roundup. Makendra Silverman of the foundation said Friday that observers, including a Colorado veterinarian who is among those suing, reported the horse wasn't having problems before it was roped Tuesday. Contractors roped the horse when it went around a net fence leading to the corral. The horse then fell and didn't want to get back up. The horse was rolled onto a truck and shot two days later. Two more horses died Friday. A 7-month-old colt whose legs were broken when it was roped was euthanized. A 3-year-old mare also died after being roped.
The BLM has said the horses being rounded up are outside a 190,000-acre area of public land designated for wild horses. Horses not sold or adopted will be taken to long-term pastures in the Midwest. So far, 28 horses have been caught and corralled. A helicopter is used to herd the animals.
Animal advocacy groups have filed lawsuits trying to stop wild horse roundups across the West, calling them inhumane and unnecessary. The lawsuit claims the Colorado roundup violates the 1971 wild horse act's requirement to preserve the horses in their range and the requirement under federal environmental laws to consider reasonable alternatives.