A federal judge is allowing a government roundup of wild horses in northern Nevada.
In an order issued today, U.S. District Judge Larry R. Hicks lifted an injunction that blocked the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from rounding up the mustangs -- the agency halted the roundup on its first day when seven horses died of dehydration last weekend.
A total of 13 horses have either died or had to be euthanized since the roundup. The agency has said drought conditions weakened the animals.
Horse protection advocates sought a court order blocking the roundup, arguing the bureau broke its own policy not to conduct helicopter roundups until six weeks after the peak foaling season. They also sought access to the 27,000 acre of public land that the land management bureau had closed for the roundup on grounds that it violated First Amendment rights. Hicks agreed with their argument, granting land access to observe and report on the roundup with "reasonable closure restrictions" from the bureau.
Hicks previously told the Associated Press that he intended to toss the request after a bureau report showed more than 500 horses could die of dehydration in the next week if the roundup doesn't continue.
The bureau says that there are about 38,400 wild horses and burros -- about 12,000 more than the federal lands support. The roundup could resume as early as Sunday.
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