Lawmaker calls for investigation into Nevada wild horse deaths

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Steve Marcus

Congresswoman Dina Titus, D-Nev., speaks with reporters before a ceremony at the Nevada Conservation League offices Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. Officials celebrated the addition of four electric buses to the Regional Transportation fleet.

Rep. Dina Titus is calling for a thorough and transparent investigation by the Bureau of Land Management into a truck wreck that killed seven wild horses rounded up from a central Nevada range.

Titus released a letter she wrote on Friday to BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning saying that the horses’ deaths, along with the deaths of 10 additional horses during the roundup itself outside Eureka, “are contradictory to BLM’s directive to ‘humanely capture’ wild free-roaming horses and burros and set them up for adoption.”

According to the agency, on Oct. 30, a contracted semitruck was transporting 36 horses in a trailer from the BLM-run roundup, in an area known as the Roberts Mountain Complex, to a holding corral in rural central Utah when it turned onto its side on Highway 50 about 130 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.

Three horses were killed in the wreck, four more were euthanized afterward because of their injuries, and many surviving animals had “minor cuts and bruises,” the agency said. The driver was not injured.

“Such an avoidable accident emphasizes the dangers of removing wild horses from the range and transporting them off site, especially when more humane, less costly alternatives to round ups exist and are readily available,” like fertility control, Titus wrote.

Titus, a staunch advocate for the welfare of the wild horses and burros that the BLM routinely rounds up in the West, asked that the BLM make the results of its investigation into the crash available to her and the public as soon as possible. She also asked that the investigation certify that all animal transport from the Roberts Mountain Complex roundup complied with federal gathering standards, and said that the investigation “must make recommendations on how transportation incidents can be avoided in the future through roundup alternatives like on-site fertility treatment.”

The BLM gathered 858 wild horses in the Roberts Mountain Complex roundup, which ran from Oct. 22-Nov. 6. In addition to the animals killed in the truck wreck, BLM reports show that 10 were euthanized for other reasons: seven for preexisting blindness, one for clubfoot, one for a broken neck suffered during shipping away from the trap site, and one for a broken leg suffered while attempting to jump out of a holding pen.

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