More than two years after it occurred, a Sacramento judge this week has put his stamp of approval on a wild horse and burro roundup by federal land managers.
An animal rights group, along with a wild horse and burro sanctuary and three individual activists unsuccessfully tried to head off the August 2010 roundup in Lassen County and Nevada's Washoe County. U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. and later a federal appellate court refused the plaintiffs' request to step in and temporarily block the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from proceeding with the roundup until the matter could be decided on the merits.
On Thursday, England ended the lawsuit, at least at the trial court level, with a 36-page order granting the BLM's motion for a summary judgment in its favor.
He ruled that the agency conducted the roundup in compliance with a congressional mandate for preserving wild horses and burros and with national environmental policy.
The bureau contended that its goal was to restore an ecological balance to 789,852 acres that make up the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area and to prevent further degradation of habitat caused by an overpopulation of wild horses.
England concluded that the plaintiffs failed to meet their legal burden to show the BLM acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in preparing its environmental assessment and in carrying out the roundup.
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