Did Emery sheriff’s personnel harass wild horses?

Utah. Bicknell photographer reports search-and-rescue crew on dirt bikes harassing herd; sheriff says volunteers were at McKay Flats for unrelated reasons.

Photo courtesy of Laurie Kline


Wild life photographer Laurie Kline caught search and rescue people, the sheriff’s department claims are volunteer, harassing wild horses on motorized vehicles.



Individuals on ATV’s and motorcycles, some with Emery County Search and Rescue shirts

The people pulled up and stopped their trucks, one of which had the sheriff department’s identification on it, where there happened to be a herd of wild horses. They proceeded to unload their dirt bikes and atv’s and did follow behind the horses causing them to be fearful and run.


The law doesn’t distinguish between a volunteer for a search and rescue team or a paid member of the sheriff department. The vehicle used to transport these atv’s was property of the sheriff’s department which holds some if not total culpability for the incident.

The law also would not make the harassment of wild horses acceptable for the reason given by the perpetrators, who claim they were checking on a path to see if it would have been or will be more efficient for search and rescue in the future.

The only agency in that location that is permitted to move horses with motorized vehicles is the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and even they have restrictions under the law that outline when and how they may be moved using motorized vehicles.

These people are guilty of harassment of wild horses pursuant to the US Code, Title 16, Chapter 30, § 1338. With photo and video, and the written testimony of an eyewitness. Also by their own admission that they were behind a herd of wild horses with motorized vehicles (which qualifies as harassment under the definition of harassment) they must be charged with criminal charges. There clearly was no emergency, and even if it was deemed to be some emergency they must first notify the Agency managing the HMA or Wild Horse Territory. These horses are on an area managed by the BLM, therefore they would need to consult with BLM, if there was an emergency need to have motorized vehicles in this area and moving wild horses, the ONLY agency authorized to move the horses in this area with motorized vehicles is the BLM!

16 U.S. Code § 1338 – Criminal provisions

(a) Violations; penalties; trial Any person who—

(3) maliciously causes the death or harassment of any wild free-roaming horse or burro,
shall be subject to a fine of not more than $2,000, or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. Any person so charged with such violation by the Secretary may be tried and sentenced by any United States commissioner or magistrate judge designated for that purpose by the court by which he was appointed, in the same manner and subject to the same conditions as provided for in section 3401 of title 18.

(b) Arrest; appearance for examination or trial; warrants: issuance and execution
Any employee designated by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture shall have power, without warrant, to arrest any person committing in the presence of such employee a violation of this chapter or any regulation made pursuant thereto, and to take such person immediately for examination or trial before an officer or court of competent jurisdiction, and shall have power to execute any warrant or other process issued by an officer or court of competent jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of this chapter or regulations made pursuant thereto. Any judge of a court established under the laws of the United States, or any United States magistrate judge may, within his respective jurisdiction, upon proper oath or affirmation showing probable cause, issue warrants, in all such cases.

Read the media account of the story here