Issue: Challenge to BLM's Horse Removal Policies
Situation Report Summary: (Reprint of Cloud Foundation Press Release)
01 July 2011
For immediate release
Lawsuit filed to protect free-roaming American wild horses in Nevada
Despite thriving natural ecological balance--scorched earth policy runs roundups
RENO, NV (July 1, 2011) – In honor of the American spirit, independence, and freedom this 4th of July, the Cloud Foundation and individual wild horse advocates filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to stop the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roundup of wild horses on the Triple B, Maverick Medicine and Antelope Valley Herd Management Areas (HMA), located on public land in eastern Nevada. The BLM has failed to show that these wild horses are a threat to the thriving natural ecological balance (TNEB) of this area or even that they are responsible for the few areas on this range which may be exhibiting some impacts from use. Despite the fact that these HMAs were specifically established for the protection of wild horse herds, the BLM is using the land mostly for other uses. There is nothing which justifies the BLM's decision to remove 80% of the wild horses (more than 1,700 stallions, mares and foals) currently residing on this 1.7 million acre range.
"The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act does not allow the BLM to employ this intensive management action--removing these majestic symbols of the West from the range and depriving them of their freedom--without determining that such an action is absolutely necessary to maintain the thriving natural ecological balance of the range." states attorney for Plaintiffs, Rachel Fazio. "The BLM hasn't made this determination, so they do not have the legal authority to proceed with this roundup."
The wild horses of the Triple B, Maverick Medicine and Antelope Valley HMAs are free-roaming on the remote high desert mountains and valleys of east central and northeast Nevada--north of Ely, south of Elko on the Utah border. They have been characterized as a diverse, colorful, intermingling herd with some possessing old mustang origins. Many wild horses descend from an old Shoshone Indian herd known for pintos and paints, as well as a number of medicine hats, horses sacred to Native Americans.
"Wild horses and burros would be subjected to irreparable harm by chasing them with helicopters, branding and sterilizing them among other cruel acts including the potential for deaths," states Anne Novak, spokesperson for The Cloud Foundation. "We must stop this abuse now and legal action is the way to do it."
The Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief was filed in the United States District Court in Nevada on June 29, 2011. Plaintiffs include The Cloud Foundation, Craig Downer and Lorna Moffat. Rachel Fazio and Julie Cavanaugh-Bill are the attorneys for the plaintiffs suing: the United States Bureau of Land Management; Ken Salazar, Secretary of Interior; Robert Abbey, Director of the BLM and Gary Medlyn and Bryan Fuell, the two BLM field managers that approved the roundup.
The roundup was originally scheduled to begin on July 7, 2011, but in response to filing this lawsuit, the BLM has delayed the start of the round-up until July 16, 2011 to allow the Nevada District Court to take a preliminary look at the case. A hearing on preliminary injunction will be held in the federal courthouse, located at 400 S. Virgina Street in downtown Reno, Nevada, on July 14, 2011 at 10:00 a.m..
"Americans across the country and citizens throughout the world look to the American wild horse as an historical icon of freedom," states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. "We simply cannot stand by while the very agency charged with their protection harasses, captures and removes thousands of free-roaming wild horses from the western range and ships them to the midwest to live out their lives in captivity--wild and free no-more."
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For links to additional information, to see the court filing and to find out what you can do to help, please visit the Cloud Foundation's