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Judge saves Wild HorsesJudge bars U.S. from wild-horse roundup

A federal judge on Tuesday stopped the U.S. Forest Service from rounding up hundreds of wild horses in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests for slaughter. The U.S. Forest service claimed the horses were from domestic heritage, but were not able to prove this argument. The horses will now be left alone and are safe from slaughter.

U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Martone wrote that the Forest Service argument that it didn't have to comply with laws governing wild horses because the animals in question strayed onto the forest after the 2002 "Rodeo-Chediski" forest fire and were domesticated hadn't been proven.

In fact, Martone wrote, the government's arguments and its lawyers' statements showed that it didn't consider whether the horses were covered by the wild-horse law before ordering them rounded up and sold.

Three animal rights groups - the Animal Welfare Institute, In Defense of Animals and the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros - brought the suit, joined by two individuals.

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