By Associated Press
CHEYENNE — Horse preservation groups seeking to block the federal government's plan to round up about 800 wild horses in Wyoming now have won at least a temporary victory.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal of Cheyenne on Thursday denied the groups' request for a preliminary injunction to block the roundup. But U.S. Magistrate Kelly Rankin later that day approved the groups' request to block the roundup through Sept. 12.
Lawyers for the state of Wyoming and the Rock Springs Grazing Association say Rankin didn't have authority to countermand Freudenthal's order. They're asking Freudenthal to overturn Rankin's order.
The horse groups sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management claiming the agency failed to follow environmental laws in planning to remove wild horses from three herd management areas in southern Wyoming.
BLM officials announced the roundup in accordance with a 2013 consent order issued by the U.S. District Court for Wyoming. The issue arose after the Rock Springs Grazing Association filed suit against the BLM over the removal of the horses for the checkerboard lands in southwest Wyoming.
The grazing group controls more than 730,000 acres in the area.
The state of Wyoming has intervened in the lawsuit, saying wild horses must not be allowed to damage the lands or conflict with private property rights.
Gov. Matt Mead said in a written statement that the horses are a concern for livestock producers in the area and that they are pressuring other wildlife populations including the sage grouse.
Star-Tribune staff writer Trevor Graff contributed to this report.