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A federal judge in Nevada who handed horse protection advocates a rare victory last fall has rejected their latest request to block government roundups of free-roaming mustangs in the West, saying they'll have to go to Congress if they think the animals are being treated inhumanely and need more protection.

U.S. District Judge Howard McKibben granted a temporary restraining order on Aug. 30 that cut short by a day a roundup near the Nevada-Utah line after he determined a helicopter flew too close to a horse in violation of the law.

But he said during a hearing in Reno Thursday that he was denying a new injunction request from the Texas-based Free Wild Horse Federation partly because the Bureau of Land Management has made some positive changes since then. He also said he can't issue injunctions based on speculation about future abuses.

"This court is really not in a position to be the overseer of the BLM," McKibben said. "This court is not going to police all gathers in the U.S. or even all gathers in the district of northern Nevada."

"This Court is not Congress, not an administrative agency. We are not the first branch of government. We are not the second branch. We're here to consider grievances," he said.

His ruling was a disappointment to horse protection advocates who were buoyed by his court order last fall when he took the BLM to task for its actions at the Triple B complex roundup near the Nevada-Utah line northwest of Ely, Nev.

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