The Humane Society of the United States has condemned the removal of a small herd of wild horses in Nevada, saying it has been a cherished attraction to the local community for more than 40 years.
The society urged the Bureau of Land Management to return the animals to their home just east of Carson City.
The animals lived in the Pine Nut herd management area.
“This small group of 11 horses has been a cherished attraction to the community members for more than 40 years,” the society said in a statement.
The bureau had cited outdated and previously resolved complaints regarding public safety risks as the reason for the removal, it said.
“The removal of these horses from their home without notifying interested stakeholders contradicts BLM’s recent announcement that it would increase agency transparency,” said Holly Hazard, senior vice-president of programs and innovations for the society.
“Working with the local community to manage this herd would have been the right choice, but instead the BLM has added these horses to its inventory of nearly 50,000 wild horses now kept in holding facilities, which are already costing taxpayers $US43 million a year.”
It called on the bureau to reverse its decision and and return them to their rightful home.
“Once the horses are returned to the wild, the BLM should work with the local community groups that have offered assistance in the management of this well-known group.”
The bureau hosted a meeting just weeks before the removal, asking for public input and possible solutions.
Several groups submitted detailed proposals that included monetary resources to purchase and build fences and water troughs, as well as the application of fertility control vaccines that would help control the population over time.
The bureau refused the assistance and removed the horses from the wild without notifying local advocates. Residents immediately noticed the missing horses and had to call the BLM to learn of their removal.