LAS VEGAS (CN) – A “feral” horse program meant to help and conserve wild horses in Nevada is instead leading the beasts to slaughter, two women claim in Federal Court.
Bonnie Kohleriter and Laura Leigh sued Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Daniel Ashe and Sheldon National Wildlife Service director John Kashbohm in the District of Nevada.
Though Sheldon has used the round-up program since 2009 to put Nevada’s wild horses in good homes through an adoption process, one bad adoption agent made it through the process, according to the complaint.
J&S Feed / Stan Palmer has taken rounded-up horses from Sheldon for three years, but “J&S could not account for most, perhaps nearly all of the horses they took from Nevada’s Sheldon range,” the complaint states.
Neither J&S nor Palmer are parties to the action.
Kohleriter allegedly made Sheldon aware of Palmer’s conduct and says Sheldon “investigated and independently determined that the concerns were true.”
“Plaintiffs are informed and believe that Sheldon horses went to slaughter, contrary to all intent, requirements of, and in clear violation of” the final environmental assessment, the complaint continues.
A new roundup in Washoe and Humboldt Counties, Nev., allegedly began on Sept. 9, 2013, and is expected to continue in the same geographical region.
“Incredibly, defendants intend to use the identical adoption agent, J&S and Palmer, despite the track record and history indicating that horses given them disappear and likely incur an inhumane death in the slaughter pipeline,” the complaint states.
Kohleriter and Leigh say Sheldon is going with Palmer even though it must conduct background checks this year under the Comprehensive Care Plan (CCP) for the adoption process.
“This lawsuit is not meant to stop the roundups, only the disposition of the horses through a process that has thus far, caused Sheldon horses to be unaccounted for and to likely go to slaughter,” the complaint states. “This lawsuit also targets inhumane treatment of those horses.”
Kohleriter and Leigh describe Sheldon horses as “the descendants of those that were rounded up for the purpose of aiding troops in World War I, as showcased with the recent feature-length film, ‘War Horse.'”
They say the horses, “being eradicated as if cockroaches, are the very descendants of those who brought American troops to battle in the European theater during World War I and who advanced our veteran troops who fought in foreign engagements, and who helped America defeat a concerning enemy.”
Kohleriter and Leigh seek an injunction under the Administrative Procedures Act and their constitutional right to observe the roundup.
They are represented by Gordon Cowan in Reno.
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