FALLON, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- A horse auction in Fallon Saturday was delayed after a judge issued a temporary restraining order to stop the sale of some of the horses.
Several wild horse advocacy and conservation groups filed a suit to stop the sale of nearly 500 horses rounded up on and around the Fort McDermitt tribal lands near the Nevada-Oregon border.
They said some of them could be federally-protected wild horses.
"Reportedly at least 120 of these horses are unbranded horses," said Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.
Roy said she believes at least some of the horses at the Fallon Livestock Exchange are wild.
"Because these public lands are in close proximity to a federally dedicated wild horse habitat area, it is highly likely that many of these unbranded horses are wild horses," Roy said.
Which means rounding them up for sale would be against the law. So they had to separate the branded from the unbranded before the sale could start.
"Wild horses are protected by an act of Congress," Roy said.
"That's supposed to protect our wild horses on public land from capture, branding, harrassment and death," said Laura Leigh.
Leigh runs Wild Horse Education a northern Nevada-based organization.
She said many of these horses will be slaughtered by their buyers, and she won't let that happen to the ones Congress has protected.
"I'm here to make sure that we don't fail the horses," Leigh said.
Both Leigh and Roy said these horses are more than just animals.
"Congress recognized their historic and cultural importance to our nation," Roy said.
"These horses represent the spirit of the American West and Nevada has more than anyone else,"
For now, these horses won't be sold, but the final decision will come in a hearing scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.