Federal Wild Horse Lawsuit Hearing Set for Friday

Groundbreaking Case will be Heard in Sacramento on the Merits

SACREMENTO, (In Defense of Animals) – Last April, in a precedent-setting decision, Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. refused to dismiss the case on legal technicalities, meaning it will be decided on the merits. Judge England also ruled that

the plaintiffs – animal protection organization In Defense of Animals (IDA), ecologist Chad Hanson, Ph.D., wild horse sanctuary founder Barbara Clarke, DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary, and wild horse enthusiast Linda Hay – have standing to challenge the action and that the case is not moot.

“The American Mustang is a native wildlife species; few people realize that the western United States is actually the evolutionary birthplace of the horse,” said Ms. Fazio. “This suit seeks to ensure that, in accordance with the laws of Congress, this majestic species is protected as wild and free-roaming, safe from illegal interference by the BLM and immune to the pressures of the livestock industry and other commercial interests that wish to exploit our public lands.” “Because of Judge England’s decision last April, tomorrow’s hearing will be about the merits of our case and not legal technicalities,” said Eric Kleiman, Research Director for In Defense of Animals. “Tomorrow, America’s wild horses will finally have their day in court.” Kleiman also noted that one of lawsuit’s major claims involves BLM’s failure to euthanize old, sick or lame horses “in the most humane manner possible.” He said that the legislative history cited by plaintiffs clearly shows that Congress expected that such euthanizing should occur on the range – and before any roundup would take place.

Plaintiffs’ pleadings repeatedly cite what Kleiman termed a “devastating” photograph and description in the lawsuit’s administrative record (from IDA’s comments on the proposed Twin Peaks roundup) of a “crippled sorel stud” who had been observed on the range in 2003 in the Nevada Calico Complex HMA by a BLM wild horse specialist. This horse – who was not part of the 2010 Twin Peaks roundup – had a “broken front right pastern” that was so “curled back” that “ He carries this leg when traveling at a hop,” and was in such bad shape that he might have to be euthanized “at some date.”

Kleiman said that that this horse is an example of the old, sick or lame whom BLM does nothing to preclude from being rounded up. “This horse is the face of BLM cruelty,” said Kleiman. “How many countless other old, sick or lame horses like this ‘crippled sorel stud’ has BLM deliberately and indiscriminately stampeded by helicopter in clear defiance of the law and Congress’s mandate that BLM treat horses humanely?”

Twin Peaks horses have been scattered across the country at Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holding facilities, and untold numbers have perished while in captivity.

Plaintiffs have revisited the Twin Peaks area and report difficulty locating wild horses to view in the aftermath of the roundup. Between August and September 2010 – the hottest months of the year – the BLM removed 1,579 wild horses and 159 burros from the HMA. The roundup was a devastating blow to California’s wild horse and burro population, removing more than one-third of California’s entire mustang and burro population which is estimated to be only approximately 5,000 throughout the entire state. The Twin Peaks HMA encompasses 798,000 acres of public land, yet the BLM allows just 448 to 758 wild horses and 72 to 116 burros to reside in the area.

Meanwhile, the agency authorizes up to four times more cattle and nearly seven times more sheep to graze this federally-designated wild horse and burro habitat.  Wild horses comprise a small fraction of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by livestock nearly 50 to 1. The BLM has recently increased cattle grazing allotments in areas where wild horses are being removed. Currently the BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public lands of which cattle grazing is allowed on 160 million acres; wild horses are only allowed on 26.6 million acres this land, which must be shared with cattle. The Obama Administration has accelerated the removal of wild horses and burros from public lands. There are currently thousands more wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities than living free on the range.

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization located in San Rafael, Calif.

dedicated to protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitat through education, outreach, and our hands-on rescue facilities in Mumbai, India, Cameroon, Africa, and rural Mississippi. For more information, visit www.idausa.org.

6 comments for “Federal Wild Horse Lawsuit Hearing Set for Friday

  1. February 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    In my opinion, it’s time for the livestock industry (especially the corporate cowboys) to admit that they have greater threats to their profitability than wild horses. If the “ranchers” and the BLM are truly concerned about the health and quality of range land, watersheds, and food supplies, here is a new suggestion: manage public lands and entire watersheds against the spread of the deadly prion.

    As more people are learning every day, prions are a form of deadly protein that builds up in the cells and bodily fluids of people and animals afflicted with various forms of prion disease, including mad cow disease, chronic wasting disease, scrapie, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Prions now are such a formidable threat that the United States government enacted the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 to halt research on infectious prions in the United States in all but two laboratories. Now, infectious prions are classified as select agents that require special security clearance for lab research. The intent is to keep prions and other dangerous biological materials away from terrorists who might use them to contaminate, food, water, blood, equipment, and entire facilities.

    Dr. Stanley Prusiner earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for identifying and studying deadly prions. President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the growing significance of his discovery.

    Thanks to Prusiner and other researchers, we now know that various forms of prion disease already are spreading around the world. Prion disease has been found in livestock and a variety of wildlife species across the Rocky Mountain region, the northwest U.S., and southwest.

    As Prusiner and other scientists have discovered, the prion pathogen spreads through urine, feces, saliva, blood, milk, soil, and the tissue of infected animals (not to mention soil and water). With those attributes, prions obviously can migrate through surface water runoff and settle in groundwater, lakes, oceans, and water reservoirs. If prions must be regulated in a laboratory environment today, the outdoor environment should be managed accordingly.

    It’s time to develop a comprehensive prion management strategy that maximizes safeguards for human health, food, water, and wildlife around the globe. The stakes are too high for fragmented and misguided prion policies. Just ask the Canadian cattlemen what a few prions did to their industry. Ask the U.S. cattle and dairy industries if they want to increase prion pathways in the watersheds that feed our public and private lands. If not, then we need to keep all livestock off of public lands to minimize the risks of cross-contamination. We don’t need to increase the opportunity for sick wildlife to infect livestock or for sick livestock to infect wildlife. Tell the cattle industry to take a stand for food safety and stop grazing on public lands. Then so-called conflicts with wild horses becomes a non-issue and then public lands become multi-use again.

    We have very few mom-and-pop ranchers left in America. Mom-and-pop ranchers also have been wiped out by the “corporate cowboys.” The groups fighting to extinguish the wild horses and the wolves are fighting for every last penny of profit. Remember, this is the industry that decided that feeding dead animals to cattle was a good idea (meat and bone meal is cheap feed). They also decided that injecting cows with the pituitary gland of a dead cow was a good idea (that’s where growth hormones originated). Therefore, the battle for the wild horse in the American West is one of greed. If the livestock industry doesn’t back off of the death sentence for our wild horses, alter your diet accordingly. Tell everyone that you know to do the same. If they harass horses by helicopter, let’s harass some cattle from the sky and see what happens when they break their legs running in fear (as happens with our magnificent wild horses). And while we are leveling the playing field, tell the livestock industry to completely quit using growth hormones derived from the brains of dead cattle. As a specified risk material (SRM) this should have been stopped long ago. How about the feed mills? How many still need to be inspected to safeguard us from mad cow disease? Take a REAL stand for food safety. And take a stand for a REAL symbol of the American spirit.

    Do your own research. Read the “Pathological Protein” or “Mad Cowboy.”

    • Denise
      February 25, 2012 at 6:58 am

      Mr. Chandler:

      A very interesting read. I discovered many years ago the lie that was the factory farm meat industry.

      BUT, good luck getting the wildlife killers to acknowledge, much more understand your information.

      In the meantime, my understanding is that outside of international import/export treaties, the United Nations’ Project/Agenda 21 or is it 23 (?) is a big driver on the internal US land policy. Scary stuff. Factor in the Cheney “privatization” of public assets agenda….and we are on the road to crapitalistic hades.

      • admin
        February 25, 2012 at 7:03 am

        There is little doubt that privatization has gone too far. Evidence of it is the private security that is now employed to guard U.S. Embassies abroad. What was wrong with the Marines?

        The Editor

        • Denise
          February 25, 2012 at 7:51 am

          They (Marines, etc) cost too much long term for government longevity costs and they became more valuable in direct combat conflict. As with prisons, the terms of employment for private contractors have their pluses and minuses. It is easier to hide a contractor malfeasance (Sun J and Cattoor come to mind), than US military misconduct (they also don’t seem to follow the same rule as US Forces….how convenient)….until the contractors are exposed for killing or abusing indigenous personnel. Wild equine mortality and abuse don’t seem to count because they ain’t people. However, the US public and some private ranchers/land owners ARE being trampled in the process.

  2. Louie Cocroft
    February 24, 2012 at 3:09 am

    This One Stallion
    Original Story by SFTHH Investigative Reporter Lisa LeBlanc
    A tall, charcoal maned gray stallion living in Twin Peaks has, through no intentional actions on his part, accrued a small fan base.

    Twin Peak’s “BraveHeart” ~ Photo by Lezlie Sterling
    He is stunning, though years of defending his family and his territory have left his black skin visibly scarred, a common testament to a fiercely protective nature. First observed during a ‘mixer’, a Wild Equine version of speed dating, he pawed the ground, trotting, snorting, kicking up dust in a frank display of masculinity. Middle age and hard living has begun to moderately effect his body, leaving him angular, in contrast to the inherent roundness of a younger, untested stallion. Still, he exudes a powerful appeal in his direct gaze and commanding stance, an assurance that he is more than capable of taking care of what is his. And in his small realm, he is undisputed Lord over all he surveys. In Wild Horse society, little credence is given to perceived perfection; he wooed and won many mares. His mares chose him for his competence as protector and provider, for his experience on the range and likely, for the hardiness & vigor sure to be handed down to his offspring.
    They lived in an area near Skedaddle/Shinn Ranch. Through changes made by unseen hands, they came to occupy a fenced allotment. In that mysterious manner of horses, he had, over time, become a familiar sight, respected, anticipated, even loved by those humans who had come to recognize him. Dubbed BraveHeart by an admirer (not to be confused with Silver King’s Braveheart), he and his family, their environment and resources, were observed and studied, season to season, by a researcher writing a thesis toward her Masters degree. Her hope is her studies will result in a more equitable division of resources for Wild Horses and management that will involve the application of scientific principals to Horse Management Areas rather than outdated policies and management practices. She became a familiar face at field offices and the holding facility, a logical progression in authoring a well-written thesis.

    There’s more to the story

  3. Louie Cocroft
    February 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    This comment was posted in THE ATLANTIC article written by Andrew Cohen
    The Lasso Tightens Around America’s Wild Horses:

    BLM so enjoys using white-washed numbers to support their propaganda! Tom Gorey states in his letter to Ms. Courtney that the roundup related fatalities were only .51 (half a percent). What he did not tell you was that the TRUE fatality rate is far larger and as an example: Twin Peaks HMA 2010 BLM roundup reported 1745 WH&B captured and 15 deaths (less than one percent).
    What they did not tell the public and don’t want the public to know is that within 13 months after the roundup 137 of those WH&B were dead (8% – this is about 16 times more than Mr. Gorey stated) and only one of those 137 deaths was reported as “old age”. The remainder of the fatalities were reported as broken necks and fractured legs and gelding complications etc. – BLM capture related deaths. Now with these facts, does anyone among us wonder why Mr. Gorey didn’t tell us the whole truth???

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