Friends of Animals and Protect Mustangs intervene after Wyoming sues feds to reduce number of wild horses
Litigation - Article Series: from Articles Archive


Friends of Animals (FoA)
December 2014

For Immediate Release - Dec. 17, 2014

Jenni Barnes, staff attorney, FoA’s Wildlife Law Program 720.949.7791, [email protected]

Mike Harris, Director, Wildlife Law Program; 720.949.7791; [email protected]

Anne Novak, Executive Director, Protect Mustangs; 415.531.8454; [email protected]

wild horses BLM roundup

(WYOMING)—Friends of Animals (FoA) and Protect Mustangs have filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the State of Wyoming against the United States Department of Interior and the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to get even more wild horses removed from the state. The State of Wyoming alleges that the federal respondents have failed to take action on the state’s request to remove “excess” wild horses from the range in Wyoming.

“In September BLM proceeded to remove 1,263 horses from the Wyoming range, which reduced wild horse populations in the affected areas to below their Appropriate Management Levels (AMLS),” said Jenni Barnes, staff attorney for FoA’s Wildlife Law Program. “I am appalled at Wyoming’s attempt to remove even more wild horses from our public lands. We all have a right to be involved in decisions about our public lands, yet it appears that Wyoming is trying to bypass this process and make a side deal with BLM to eradicate wild horses. Friends of Animals will not just stand by while this happens and we are intervening to protect the freedom of the last remaining wild horses in the state.”

FoA and Protect Mustangs, both non-profit animal advocacy organizations, and their members, have long-standing involvement in conserving wild horses in the western United States generally, and have specific conservation, academic, educational and recreational interests in wild horses in Wyoming.

The organizations are concerned that the BLM has shown a willingness to settle actions seeking to force the removal of horses in Wyoming. For instance, this past summer, when Rock Springs Grazing Association filed a lawsuit against the BLM to force it to remove all wild horses from the Checkerboard area, a mix of federal and private land that runs along an old railroad route across southern Wyoming, BLM did not advocate for wild horse conservation. Instead BLM entered a consent decree with the plaintiffs in which BLM agreed to remove all horses from the Checkerboard area.

Priscilla Feral, President of Friends of Animals states, “When wild horses don’t seem useful to the BLM, they’re resented. Rounded up. Sterilized. Killed or otherwise displaced. In contrast, cows and sheep owned by large corporations and hobby ranchers are seen as having a dollar value, so ranchers are relieved from having to compete over water and grasslands with horses. Since horses are not hamburgers, Wyoming and the BLM want them gone. People don’t want this madness anymore.”

FoA and Protect Mustangs oppose all removals of wild horses and believe the AMLs set for the Herd Management Areas in Wyoming are too low, outdated and do not accurately reflect the number of wild horses that are needed to maintain genetic viability to prevent extinction and to create a thriving ecological balance in the state.

“We feel compelled to intervene because the BLM isn't protecting America's wild horses and burros the way it should,” said Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs. “BLM's new wipe-out plan is to complain its hands are tied and then they invite states and other land-grabbers to sue them to roundup wild horses under false claims of overpopulation. This subterfuge must be stopped.

“The American public is outraged elected officials aren't doing anything to stop cruel roundups and sterilization experiments on our native wild horses. It's disgusting and shameful. Risky drugs like PZP and other forms of sterilization are a sham at this point because there aren't enough wild horses left on millions of acres of public land.”

Novak pointed out that according to the National Academy of Sciences' 2013 report, there is "no evidence" of overpopulation.

“The truth is wild horses are underpopulated and the BLM's silly AML is ridiculously biased to favor commercial livestock grazing on public land. It's shameful the State of Wyoming and the BLM are trying to blow away the 1971 Protection Act, which states that wild horses and burros should receive primary but not exclusive use of the designated areas for the herds,” Novak said.

"Wild horses need to be protected in Wyoming,” added Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist and author of The Wild Horse Conspiracy. ”The rolling grassy hills and prairies are an ideal habitat for wild horses. They restore the ecosystem as a deeply rooted native in North America with a unique niche that helps the other species thrive.”

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