ELKO — Two more entities joined a federal lawsuit regarding wild horse policy, which demands the government round up and remove excess horses.
In an amended complaint filed Monday, Nevada Bighorns Unlimited and Crawford Cattle were listed as plaintiffs, in addition to Nevada Association of Counties and the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation, who first filed suit in December.
The plaintiffs allege the Bureau of Land Management is not following the law by allowing wild horse populations to grow beyond the agency-identified carrying capacities.
The result, they’ve argued, is damage to the land, wildlife and horses.
“First and foremost, Defendants’ failures to properly follow the law have gravely harmed, and will continue to gravely injure the very animals that the (Wild Horse and Burro) Act was established to protect,” the complaint states.
Bighorns Unlimited did not immediately return a call for comment.
The number of participants in the suit continues to expand. Two separate horse advocates successfully intervened as defendants earlier this year, then filed a motion to dismiss in May.
Advocates believe the lawsuit is an attempt to allow for the sale of horses for slaughter, and argue that the agency should use fertility-control methods to manage herd populations.
In a response to the allegations, the BLM stated it was strapped for funds and holding space. The agency recently said it will gather fewer horses across the West this summer because of budget restrictions and lack of pens, according to The Associated Press.
Government attorneys asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit for legal reasons.
The plaintiffs have until Aug. 15 to respond.
The Elko County Commission pledged up to $10,000 to help fund the legal action, which NACO president Jeff Fontaine said in February could add up to more than $90,000.
Bighorns Unlimited is a nonprofit dedicated to protecting and sustaining wildlife for hunters and wildlife enthusiasts.
Crawford is a for-profit livestock operation located near Winnemucca.
In the lawsuit, the ranching company claimed its predecessor informed the BLM that wild horses had damaged land, including private parcels, and consumed private water and feed.