First Amendment Cited in Wild Horse Battle

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RENO, Nev. (AP) - A federal judge says she'll decide next week to what extent wild horse advocates have a First Amendment right to view hundreds of mustangs they claim were removed illegally from a national wildlife refuge on the Nevada-Oregon line.

Horse advocates testified during a daylong hearing in Reno on Thursday the government is using a "cloak of secrecy" that prevents them from observing the handling of the animals in holding pens at the Sheldon refuge.

Horseback Magazine photographer Laura Leigh told U.S. District Judge Miranda Du federal officials are using safety concerns as an excuse to keep advocates from documenting mistreatment of the mustangs.

She says she's been kept nearly two football fields away the horse corrals, preventing her from even counting the horses, let alone tell if they are being abused.