Plaintiff in BLM Suit Denied Access to Stampede Site Despite Judge’s Ruling in Her Favor

By Vicki Tobin, Special to Horseback Magazine, Photo by Cat Fisher

CHICAGO, – Despite Judge Hick’s order on Friday, July 16, equine advocate, Laura Leigh, was denied access to the trap site for the Owyhee round up, one of three herd areas comprising the Tuscarora round-up. When questioned, the authorities responded that she was not on the list.

Reno federal Judge Larry Hicks entered an order stating; “As to Leigh’s First Amendment challenge to the closure of public lands during the ga

ther, the court shall grant Leigh’s temporary restraining order.

Leigh argues that a blanket closure of 27,000 acres of public land on which the Tuscarora Gather is going to take place is a prior restraint on her First Amendment rights because she will be unable to observe and report on the health of the horses

and the BLM’s management of the gather. The court agrees [and]… finds that the blanket closure … is unconstitutional“. The BLM can, however, draft a “more reasonable closure“.

The court’s order in no way [a]ffects the BLM’s closure of the airspace above the 27,000 acres of public land. The court finds the closure of airspace to be constitutional and necessary.”

Ms. Leigh also noted and photographed water holes that are fenced off by livestock ranchers, denying access to the horses. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) claims the horses are being removed because of lack of water. Only horses are being removed and not other wildlife or livestock.

This is not the first time the BLM has ignored a judge or the intent of the law of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act. As reported by American Herds, the BLM is moving forward with a round-up despite federal judge, Rosemary Collyer’s ruling that the BLM overstepped their authority by issuing a zero number of horses as the management level for the West Douglas herd in Colorado. During the Calico law suit, Judge Friedman indicated that holding horses off the range is likely illegal. The BLM moved forward with the Calico round-up that resulted in over 150 deaths and over 1,800 horses that have lost their freedom on the ranges granted to them by law.

Wildlife ecologists and researchers estimate there are at best, 20,000 horses that remain free roaming. Advocates continue to ask if the ranges cannot sustain 20,000 horses how they can sustain millions of privately owned livestock.

A complaint was recently filed by The Center for Biological Diversity and several other groups asking that the tax payer subsidized livestock be removed from public lands. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports have shown the damage to our public lands is a result of over grazing of livestock, not horses.

Laura Leigh possesses press credentials for Horseback Magazine and is also representing Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA), Grass Roots Horse, Herd Watch, a Cloud Foundation program and author RT Fitch that provides a daily blog of wild horse and burro information and information on efforts to end the slaughter

of American horses.

Field updates are being communicated through RT Fitch and EWA.

33 comments for “Plaintiff in BLM Suit Denied Access to Stampede Site Despite Judge’s Ruling in Her Favor

  1. Lisa Norman
    July 21, 2010 at 12:52 am

    The Calico mare in the photo above is #0096 SpiritWalker. This photo was taken earlier this year. Does anyone know her whereabouts? She is not on BLM auction website. She was last seen at Indian Lakes facility in Fallon. How dare they auction off OUR wild horses like raffle tickets. How dare they keep us off OUR public lands. These are not federal lands people, they are PUBLIC LANDS. The fact that Cattoors are multimillionaires from our tax dollars and OUR mustangs really burns me up, and the fact they are getting a taxpayer funded paycheck this week when millions of Americans won’t is beyond sickening. Where is justice? Does it have a pulse?

  2. Ronnie
    July 20, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Since Congress and the our Presidential Administration will not act on this horror, how fitting that a federal judge take over the BLM/wild horses!

    That said, it appears that Salazar has such POWER and is feared. Yes, HE is frightening! The power, havoc, destruction, killing fields. And against the LAW! Do judges “fear” him too?

  3. Aleta Pahl
    July 20, 2010 at 7:03 am

    The Cloud Foundation was able to organize demonstrations in cities across this country and even London this year, so why can’t there be a movement to get these people out to the roundup sites? There was a pretty big protest in Law Vegas months ago and lots of signs, etc. Bring those signs and come to where the horses are being rounded up! I know it is easy for me to say, I am over in New York, but for those people who were able to protest in the cities, they can come to the home of the mustangs and stand between them and the BLM.

  4. Ralph Patterson
    July 19, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    I have read your work here. What remains, for me, is in order to do something, there is more information needed. So —

    WHO is in charge? WHO makes each decision?

    Who, in the BLM, is making these decisions?

    Ralph Patterson

    • Alala
      July 20, 2010 at 4:37 am

      Ralph, your best bet is to check the website for The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. You can also google and The International Society For the Protection of Mustangs and Burros. The blog American Herds has lots of information, and The Cloud Foundation is a pretty good site as well. Within all these sites, you should be able to get a clear idea of who is responsible and why this movement started.
      An absolutely excellent investigative report has been done by 16 times Emmy award winner George Knapp for Channel 8. Watch: “Stampede to Oblivion” they are 6 or seven chapters, all available online, and also watch his next report.
      Hope this helps.

    • Lisa Norman
      July 21, 2010 at 12:30 am

      Ralph contact Willis Lamm, he knows the BLM folks on the ground and who the decision makers are. I believe one is Alan Shepard (?). Also you can find a copy of the lawsuit on line and get names off of that.

  5. Jeff Hudson
    July 19, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    So we yell, write, blog and get upset, we talk about the injustice, we send emails and make calls to our elected officials and lo and behold, nothing has improved. Laura gets a court order allowing her to attend and they blow it off and enjoy the irony over cold ones that night! So when are we as a nationwide group going to be willing to show up in force (at least 500 of us, minimum) drive past the road blocks in our SUV’s and in mass descend on these gathers, So what if we get arrested for some outlandish law, lets have some balls here. This is what it takes to change laws sometimes. I’m ready but one person alone or 5 or 10 wont even make more then the local evening news blog. We need numbers and we need them NOW. The time for action has been reached, for 39 years our law has been changed, weakened, ignored, thrown away, laughed at and is now being just forgotten while we complain about it, nobody is listening to us! In the mean time all the horses are going by by, 12K this year and they are still on track for that, how many next year or the year after? We have 19 rescue horses at home and my wife and I sell our blood and have yard sales to support them, on top of 40 hour jobs, We can find the time to show up at one of these gathers and I know how to hold my hands behind my back so the cuffs can be snapped shut, it isn’t that bad, really, Help us help you help OUR horses, A world without wild horses isn’t a world at all now isn’t it. They are stealing them from us all and they don’t care about our words anymore. Law suits and action is the only answers anymore. We all have the same story, none of us or very few of us can afford what we in our hearts are trying to do but now is the time to face facts, we are losing and losing big, its our generation of horse advocates that will either save these horses or our generation that will see the end of them, we can’t depend on the children or future advocates to continue a fight that wont exist if we don’t make a stand now. We are as a group the best informed, best suited and best educated to make this final stand. We can fight this without violence and win it if we only put ourselves to this task. I truly believe this! SAVE OUR HORSES NOW.

    • July 19, 2010 at 11:16 pm

      Count me in, Jeff. I’ll join ranks with you, your wife and others who truly care about saving what is left of our WH&B heritage herds.

      The on-going corruption within the DOI and the blind eye it turns to the felony equine abuses during BLM roundups and in both short and long term holding facilities must once and for all come to an end.

    • Lisa Norman
      July 21, 2010 at 12:38 am

      Jeff you know how to contact me, let me know when. Is it too late for this roundup, is it over already? I will sell my blood, my hair to be there and I’m not afraid to stand up for this. You are right, the time is now. If they steal 12,000 this year then there will be no more genetically viable herds left.

  6. Terry
    July 19, 2010 at 5:37 am

    The best chance may be not to attack BLM (it is just a name – not a person), but to go after individuals. WHO is in charge? WHO makes each decision? Sue that person into bankruptcy, take the money and buy the horses and the land, if possible, and set them free. Sue the next person in line and do it again and again until you eliminate everyone right down to the laborers and truck drivers. As long as these greedy, morally vacant excuses for human beings have a company, or a bureau to hide behind, they will never stop. Identify every single person involved, make their pictures and personal information public record, and let them suffer some abuse for a change.

    • Guillermo
      July 19, 2010 at 12:00 pm

      I agree it needs to be investigated,honest I have no idea this been happening, Thank-you for some one who take care of it.

    • Lisa Norman
      July 21, 2010 at 12:00 am

      Not only are they breaking federal law but also NV state law section 574.100 “prohibits the overdriving, overloading, torture, cruel beating or unjustifiable injuring, maiming, mutilation, or killing of an animal as well as deprivation of necessary sustenance, food or drink.” This is a misdemeanor until 3rd offense. Take names, charge them all over and over. Also interesting to note that NV state law empowers rescue groups to make arrests in animal cruelty cases.

  7. Alan Mercier
    July 19, 2010 at 5:35 am

    Wheres Billy Jack When you really need him? Billy, Billy, The Poseners are back!

  8. July 19, 2010 at 5:24 am

    Notes referring to Dave Cattor as a felon will not be posted. He is not a fellon. The crime he plead guilty to was a misdemeanor. Please make every effot to be accurate in what you write.

    Steven Long, Editor

  9. July 19, 2010 at 2:59 am

    block the roads flatten tires and turn the wild back out.Old fashioned justice is needed find A tALL OAK TREE AN HANG A FEW BY THE BALLS Maybe someone will get the picture maybe it will make the front of CNN and alot of magazines.

  10. Aleta Pahl
    July 19, 2010 at 2:17 am

    I would love to see hundreds of people at those roundups… but getting people together these days is so hard. It might happen with multiple groups asking members to go and join up there. I would love to see a long line of cars and trucks coming like the end of “Field of Dreams”…. if you build it, he will come.

    There has to be a way to organize enough people to do what Laura Leigh is doing on her own.

  11. Alala
    July 18, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    You’ve got a verdict delivered on a Friday, and a contractor rushing to continue the round ups. Bad news, meaning Laura will have to wait until Monday to do anything with the court, which means chances of anything happening until Tuesday are slim. By Tuesday, there will be no more horses left of course, that’s why the contractor was rushing. Technically speaking, this herd is zeroed out.

    • Pat Donley
      July 18, 2010 at 11:50 pm

      There has to be more consequences then….we sue for damages. Make them pay for each horse removed and punitive damages for each Americans loss of every seeing that horse in the wild again. We have to make them pay for what they are doing or they will never stop. No no with a finger wiggling back forth and slaps on the hands don’t work because they know nothing will happen if they go ahead and do it anyway. They are just like a spoiled kid. We have to take away their toys and ground them and mean it. Maybe there needs to be a few thousand people show up to their roundup and see if they say no we can’t observe?

  12. Horse Worker
    July 18, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    History tells us ignoring the court may be a pattern by BLM. Google “BLM violate court order” and you get 853,000 results.

    In 2001 BLM violated a court order when it failed to remove cattle from designated tortoise habitat. They got a contempt of court citation on that case.

    2003, BLM violated federal law again:

    BLM needs to be held to the same legal standards as any other repeat offender. We need more “hang em high harry” judges on the Federal bench who will deal with gov’t and corporate repeat offenders in such a way that it’s a deterrent to future bad behavior.

    In my opinion, a study of BLM’s history and you can’t help but see it as an agency of grifters. The nouns change – land, protected species, contracts, public access, right of peaceful assembly, fiduciary duty, tax fraud (see below) but the verbs – and outcomes – are the same, to the detriment of the American people and our natural resources.

    But at some point in the movie, even the megalomaniac gets his commeupance:

    Corrupt BLM official gets 3 years in prison
    7/13/2010, 8:22 a.m. PDT
    The Associated Press

    (AP) — MEDFORD, Ore. – A former U.S. Bureau of Land Management official has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for schemes that cost the government nearly half a million dollars.

    U.S. District Judge Owen Panner on Monday ordered Luis Ramirez to repay the BLM the money he swindled while working as a contract administrator in the agency’s Medford office.

    Ramirez, 57, pleaded guilty last month to wire fraud, personal financial conflict of interest and making a false tax return statement.

  13. Barb3000
    July 18, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Anybody have a pair of heavy sharp wire cutters handy?

    • Alala
      July 18, 2010 at 9:41 pm

      If the fences are illegal, how could this be illegal?

  14. wendell w. stockdale
    July 18, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Well it looks like it’s official folks, The fact that the organizaton known as the ” Bureau Of Lying Maggots ” are official they can do what they want when they want and lets not forget how they want. I thought I lived in America when a Judge made a decision it was final, but I guess he does not have enough money or clout like the BLM does and oh lets not forget Sue Catoor she’s a regular Cowgirl bet she can’t even ride a horse. If it’s this important to roundup Wild Horse how about on Horseback. The use of a Helicopter is a waste of fuel but when you have BP in the loop heck why not. I do not think this is a conspiracy anymore between the Cattlemen whom I used to appreciate not so much anymore and do believe they are fencing the land to prevent Wild Horses from getting to water but how do we know when we are not even allowed on public lands anymore. Do we still live in America I’m not so sure at this point. I am disgusted and saddend The Blood of Americas Wild Horses ultimatly are on American Govt’s Hands. I will continue to pray for our Govt and BLM maybe God will have a word to say about it, after all they are his creatures.

  15. July 18, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    The question has been raised, what can happen to a government body when it defies a federal judge. It brings to mind the case of Ruiz vs. Estelle in Texas. In that one Judge William Wayne Justice literally took over and ran the Texas prison system out of his court for close to 30 years. Justice also ran desegregation in Texas for decades. Federal judges are all powerful. They can actually seize and run the BLM if the mood strikes them.

    Steve Long, Horseback Magazine

    • Pat Donley
      July 18, 2010 at 11:43 pm

      I hope the judge does take control of the BLM. If it was you or I and we defied a Federal judges decision you know we would be in jail right now. Let’s all pray that this judge holds up and out against corruption and has not been bought off by BP. Personally if I was that judge I would be pissed and throw the book at them and says enough.

  16. Aleta Pahl
    July 18, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    So what legally can happen to an agency that defies a judge’s ruling like the BLM? Is there law or not? Is there freedom in this country or not?

    • Steven D. Shurtleff
      July 19, 2010 at 3:25 pm

      Nixson thought he was above the law….somebody get a rope!

  17. July 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    A plaintiff as Laura Leigh has the right to discovery in a Federal Lawsuit. She can witness, photograph, document and have expert witness present. She was given nothing by the Court that she wasn’t already entitled to. She has the right to all documents of the BLM, and all their contractors including personal e-mails. Just because our symbol of freedom is being caged doesn’t give the BLM the right to our freedom of Discovery in Federal Court.

  18. MyFlyingCLoud
    July 18, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Please see http://WWW.GRASSROOTSHORSE.COM if you can donate to help fund this lawsuit by contributing to our wild horse legal fund which is the ONLY PLACE TO DONATE TO FUND THIS LAWSUIT. is the only other place that has a donation button that links to us. We are supporting the lawsuit strictly by individual doations-we receive no help from organizations-this is strictly grass roots activism regular people are fed up.

    • allybarb
      July 18, 2010 at 7:47 pm

      Done–let’s support Laura!

  19. July 18, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Again the BLM proves exactly what they are a money hungry entity!

    With careless disregard for the public whose money is paying for all the lies.

  20. July 18, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Ya know, ….the arrogance of the BLMites is really starting to make alot of people mad. I am just wondering how long before some of them decide to mete out a little vigilante justice of their own,like back in the “good ole” days when they used to HANG horse thieves.

  21. Alala
    July 18, 2010 at 5:49 am

    Not surprising. Too bad there is only one advocate asking to go as an observer.
    Timing is extremely important in these actions, and by having a decision delivered on a Friday, there is not much to do until the beginning of the week, and I’m sure round ups are conducted through the week-end. They are no coincidences.

  22. MorganG
    July 18, 2010 at 5:44 am

    There needs to be a serious look at the laws surrounding the fencing of my public lands. I fail to see how it can be legal to fence public lands in such a manner that it endangers the health of the natural residents of that habitat. The invaders ie the welfare ranchers should be the ones that suffer not my public lands. If they want to erect fences they should have to appeal to the government to purchase the land outright.

Comments are closed.