UPDATE: April 2, 2017: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's decision to dismiss this lawsuit, finding that the plaintiff "seeks judicial oversight and direction of virtually the entire federal wild horse and burro management program in Nevada,” which is not the judiciary’s role.
On December 30, 2013, the Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) and the Nevada Farm Bureau, acting on behalf of ranchers who graze livestock on public land, filed a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior and its Bureau of Land Management (BLM) seeking to compel the government to remove thousands of wild horses from public lands in Nevada and to sell captured mustangs for slaughter. The lawsuit is part of a strategy by Western ranchers to sue the BLM, knowing the agency will capitulate to their demands without mounting a serious legal defense. In Wyoming, a similar lawsuit was actually invited by Interior Department officials, and resulted in a Consent Decree in which the government agreed to drastically reduce wild horse populations in southwestern Wyoming, including the "zeroing out" of several large and important Herd Management Areas.
On April 3, 2014, the U.S. District Court District of Nevada granted AWHPC, joined by renowned author and Nevada resident Terri Farley and nationally-acclaimed wild horse photographer Mark Terrell, the right to intervene in the lawsuit. On May 29, 2014, AWHPC, Farley and Terrell filed a motion to dismiss the case based on its lack of legal merit and the plaintiffs' lack of standing to bring the case in the first place.
The following month, AWHPC, Farley and Terrell filed a motion to dismiss the NACO case, and on March 12, 2015 the court granted AWHPC's motion, dismissing the case "with prejudice," which means that the case cannot be amended or re-filed. AWHPC et. al. were represented in the case by the public interest law firm Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal.
NACO and the Farm Bureau have appealed this case, and AWHPC is now defending the lower court verdict in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
NINTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS