RENO, Nev. (KOLO)-- A wild horse advocacy group has sued the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and others over the roundup of about 400 wild horses in Palomino Valley January 4 and 5, 2019.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and Colleen Westlake, who owns a horse named Lady the suit charges was illegally rounded up and possibly taken to slaughter, also sued the Nevada Department of Agriculture, Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc. of Utah, a Churchill County woman who allegedly bought the horses from the tribe and two Department of Agriculture employees.
The suit was filed January 16, 2019 in U.S. District Court in Nevada.
The suit alleges the Tribe and people hired by them illegally came onto federal land to round up horses and burros and drive them onto reservation land. The suit said the animals were feral and owned by the state of Nevada or privately owned and were not horses owned by the Tribe.
The suit said wild horse advocates called the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office to report what it calls illegal actions by the Tribe and were told to call the Nevada Department of Agriculture. When they called the Department of Agriculture, the suit said, they were told to call the sheriff’s office.
The suit charges Chris Miller, an enforcement supervisor for the Department of Agriculture, cleared the horses for shipment by improperly issuing brand inspections on Jan. 6 to the Tribe without proof that the Tribe owned the horses.
There should have been notices that the horses were being gathered and sold, the suit charges.
The suit also alleges that Zena Quillan of Churchill County bought the horses from the Tribe and sent them to a slaughterhouse in either Canada or Mexico.
The suit asks a judge to prohibit roundups like this in the future.
The Department of Agriculture said no one was available to comment on the suit on Wednesday. A person with Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc. said they had not seen the suit and could not comment.
Alan Mandell, vice chairman of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, said they had not seen the lawsuit. “Once we see the lawsuit, we can respond appropriately,” Mandell said.
Quillan could not be reached for comment.
“We respect the sovereignty of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe for activities that occur on their nation’s lands,” Suzanne Roy, AWHC executive director, said in a statement. “However, the roundup of the Palomino Valley horses occurred on private lands outside the reservation, involving trespass, taking of private horses and violations of state law. We are bringing this suit on behalf of the residents whose property rights have been violated and the wild horses who have lived peacefully in Palomino Valley for years.”
In the statement, Westlake said she wants to visit Lady or find out her status.
“If Lady is still being held, and I was able to go to the corral, I know I could identify her. However, no one will tell me where she could be or will let me try to identify her. I just want permission to go and see if my horse is being held with those that have been rounded up since January 4th,” Westlake said in the statement. “I love my horse, she means everything to me. No amount of money could replace Lady, and I would be devastated if she were slaughtered.”