Archive for the ‘Horses’ Category

Groundbreaking Case Heard on the Merits; Parties Await Decision

Sacramento, Calif. (February 24, 2012) – A hearing in the groundbreaking wild horse lawsuit challenging the roundup and removal of nearly 1,579 wild horses and 159 burros from the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA) in northeastern California, in 2010, was heard on Friday, February 24. Both plaintiffs and defendants presented their arguments at the hearing and will now wait for Judge Morrison C. England, Jr.’s ruling.

Last April, in a precedent-setting decision, Judge England 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 plaintiffs’ pro bono legal counsel Rachel 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 Bureau of Land Management 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, this hearing and this case are about the merits of our lawsuit, not legal technicalities,” said Eric Kleiman, Research Director for In Defense of Animals. “Finally, America’s wild horses had their day in court.”

Kleiman also noted that one of the 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 this horse exemplifies 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 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 of 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.

Contacts:        Rachel Fazio, Esq., (530) 273-9290; Eric Kleiman, In Defense of Animals, (717) 939-3231

Complimentary Tickets for IDA Members

In Defense of Animals and Wild for Life Foundation join together to present Saving America’s Horses – A Nation Betrayed,” the lifesaving film at the Artivist International Film Festival. The complimentary screening takes place at the Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre, August 20th at 12 noon. Celebrity red carpet event begins at 11 a.m.

The screening will also feature a Q & A with filmmaker Katia Louise, Dr. Elliot Katz of In Defense of Animals, Neda DeMayo of Return to Freedom, Mario James of Wild for Life Foundation and Michael Blake of “Dances With Wolves.”

Advanced complimentary ticketing for the event is available on line through the festival website and seats are going quickly.  http://www.brownpapertickets.com/e/187447

“Saving America’s Horses – A Nation Betrayed” brings a promise of freedom, for both wild and domestic horses, from cruelty, roundups and slaughter.

Awards and Honors

Best In Festival: Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival

Accolade Merit Award: Advocacy, Visuals, and Investigative Journalism

Awarded for Cinematography, Advocacy, Editing & Conservation Message: International Wildlife Film Festival.

____________________________________________________________________________

Get the latest about the screening of “Saving America’s Horses” on the Facebook event page and be among the first to show your friends you’re attending.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Saving-Americas-horses/91817751967#!/event.php?eid=213828358666053

Learn more about this important film resource at www.savingamericashorses.org.

Dr. Elliot Katz

District Judge Rejects Interior Dept. Motion to Dismiss Case

Sacramento, Calif. (April 20, 2011) – In a precedent-setting decision, issued today in the United States District Court, Eastern District of California, Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. rejected the U.S. Department of Interior’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the roundup and removal of nearly 1,579 wild horses and 159 burros from the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA) in northeastern California last year.

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, local resident and wild horse enthusiast Linda Hay – have standing to challenge the action and that the case is not moot, despite the fact that the roundup has already taken place. In past wild horse roundup litigation, courts have dismissed claims as moot because the roundups had already concluded, never ruling on the merits on the case.

However, In Defense of Animals et al. vs. Interior Department et al., headed by pro bono legal counsel Rachel Fazio, outlines specific remedies and the ongoing harm plaintiffs suffer from Twin Peaks mustangs being held in captivity in government long-term holding facilities – facilities that the plaintiffs allege are illegal. Fazio argued in her briefs that the case was not moot, in part because the Interior Department could return captured horses to the range.

“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 Rachel Fazio, legal counsel for plaintiffs. “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.”

Plaintiffs in the litigation include Barbara Clarke, wild horse expert and director of the 2,000-acre DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary in Northeastern California, DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary, ecologist Dr. Chad Hanson, Linda Hay, a local resident who has visited and enjoyed the Twin Peaks horses for the past thirty years, and animal protection organization In Defense of Animals.

“We may finally have a court address the merits of a case challenging wild horse roundups and not dismiss it on technicalities,” said Eric Kleiman, Research Director for In Defense of Animals. “This is a groundbreaking legal decision that could lead to America’s wild horses finally having their day in court.”

In addition, the plaintiffs have appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge England’s denial last year of a preliminary injunction to halt the Twin Peaks roundup. The remedy of returning horses to the range was also a critical issue of discussion at a hearing before the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco earlier this year.

Meanwhile, 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 in the past year, while Congress just last week approved funding for yet more BLM roundups beginning this July. There are currently more than 36,000 wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities and only 33,000 wild horses 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.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Eric Kleiman, In Defense of Animals, (717) 939-3231
Rachel Fazio, Esq., (530) 273-9290

Documentary's premiere is Sunday March 27 through the Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival

Los Angeles, Calif. (March 19, 2011) – In Defense of Animals (IDA), an international animal protection organization with over 100,000 members, applauds the selection of “Saving America’s Horses – A Nation Betrayed” by the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival. The film, directed and produced by Katia Louise, is a feature length documentary that examines the arguments made by both the proponents and opponents of horse slaughter as related to both domestic and wild equines. The film also explores environmental issues and the lethal health risks associated with the consumption of America’s horses by people.

IDA has been promoting the film to its membership throughout the past year.

What: Los Angeles premiere of “Saving America’s Horses” at the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival
When: Sunday March 27, 2011, 12:45 p.m. – seating begins at 12:30 p.m. Ticket holders will be invited to stay for a special reception following the screening.
Where: Laemmle’s Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90041

According to director/producer Katia Louise, “The film is a compelling compilation of expert testimony, undercover footage and true life stories shot against the dramatic backdrops of America’s beautiful countryside. “A Nation Betrayed” depicts a country divided and inspires great hope for the protection of all horses and burros from cruelty.”

IDA President Elliot M. Katz, DVM said “finally – a film that reveals the tragic consequences and cruelties of the horse racing industry and the horror of horse slaughter. We hope this film arouses the voices America’s horses need for their very survival.”

Michael Blake (Dances With Wolves), Randal Kleiser (Grease), Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas), Linda Gray (Dallas), Ken Wahl (Wiseguy), The Barbi Twins, and Jennifer Lee Pryor are all involved and have confirmed their appearances for this event, as has Mexican matinee idol Jorge Rivero. Food for the reception will be provided by The Veggie Grill, with wine supplied by Du Vin.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Elliot M. Katz, DVM, 415-448-0075,  emk@idausa.org

Wild Horse Lawsuit Update

You are invited to attend the next hearing
March 24, 2 p.m., Sacramento, California

Our lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) continues! We won’t give up, and you’re invited to attend the next hearing in Sacramento. We want the Judges to know that there is a large contingent of people who really care about protecting wild horses and burros. And we need you to balance out the BLM people who will be in the gallery, silently willing the Court to rule in their favor.

When: March 24, 2011, 2 p.m. (Note: you should check the Court’s website listed below on March 23, or check with IDA, to confirm the hearing hasn’t been postponed, which does happen occasionally.)

What: Next hearing in the case of IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS; DREAMCATCHER WILD HORSE AND BURRO SANCTUARY; BARBARA CLARKE; CHAD HANSON; LINDA HAY, Plaintiffs, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT; KEN SALAZAR, Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior; ROBERT ABBEY, Director of the Bureau of Land Management; KEN COLLUM, Field Manager of Eagle Lake Field Office, Defendants.

Where: United States District Court, Eastern District of California, Federal Courthouse in downtown Sacramento, 500 “I” Street, across the street from the Amtrack station on the corner of 5th and I. The freeway exit would be J street off of I-5.

IDA Contact: Elliot M. Katz, DVM: emk@idausa.org, 415-448-0048.

More information about this lawsuit:

The lawsuit challenges the BLM’s approval and implementation of the 2010 Twin Peaks Gather Plan – which approved the round-up and removal of close to 2,000 wild horses and burros from the Twin Peaks HMA in northern California and western Nevada. The lawsuit seeks to set aside this decision for violations of the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, including the transfer of wild horses to long-term holding facilities in the midwest, and the National Environmental Policy Act, for failure to adequately analyze the impacts of the round-up.

What is happening at this step, and why it’s important:

The actual round-up took place in 2010. The helicopters stopped rounding up the horses on September 19, 2010. The government is arguing that because the round-up activities ceased on September 19, 2010 that the round-up is over and Plaintiffs’ case should be dismissed because there is no longer a live case or controversy to be resolved (i.e., that the case is moot). The government is also arguing that the Plaintiffs have not established standing to challenge their practice of shipping wild horses to long-term holding facilities because they have not shown an injury in fact related to the action, that the injury was caused by the BLM’s action, or that a favorable resolution on that claim (i.e., illegal to use long-term holding in the midwest) would result in fewer wild horses being removed from the range.

We of course are opposing this Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ Case. If Defendants are successful, Plaintiffs’ case would be dismissed (meaning no possibility for relief, either declaratory – on what the statute does and does not allow, or injunctive – putting the wild horses back on the range) and Plaintiffs would have to go to the Ninth Circuit to try and get this determination reversed.

How to confirm on March 23 that this hearing is still scheduled:

After March 21, visit the website for the United States District Court, Eastern District of California (www.caed.uscourts.gov). Once on the website click on the Court Calendar button on the menu on the left side of the home page. On the Court Calendar page you will click on the Judge, and choose Judge England Jr., then for the date select March 24, 2011, and look to see if our case is listed: Case No. 10-1852, In Defense of Animals, et al v. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, et al.. Please note the calendar is only for one week – so you will not be able to check the March 24, 2011 date until March 21st. Also it is important to check the website on the afternoon of March 23, 2011 – because the Judge may cancel or postpone the hearing at the last minute.

IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS OFFERS $500 FOR ARREST & CONVICTION OF SHOOTER

Grenada, Miss. (Dec. 9, 2010) – In Defense of Animals, an international animal protection organization, has posted a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who callously and maliciously shot two horses in their pasture on 4897 Sweethome Road, Grenada, MS.

On December 9, Lee Pickens received a call from his cousin, James Bled, a resident on Sweethome Road, Grenada County, MS informing him that one of his horses was “down.”  Mr. Pickens discovered that one of his horses had been killed and the other wounded.

Miss Kitty, Mr. Picken’s  10-year-old grey Quarter Horse, sustained five bullet wounds: two to her chest, one behind her right front leg, and another two to her right side.  It appeared that Miss Kitty ran about 100 yards before succumbing to the wounds she sustained.

Mr. Pickens’s other horse, a 3-year-old Quarter Horse named Lil’ Bit, sustained a bullet wound to each front leg; one to her right front knee may have crippled her.

“Mr. Pickens visited us right after confirming his horses had been shot.  He said the Grenada County Sheriff’s Department responded to his report of the shootings.  It’s not certain what was documented. Small caliber cartridges remained on the site and Mr. Pickens said no photos had been taken.  We were greatly disturbed by the report that his horses had apparently been senselessly shot in what appears to have been a random act of violence,” said Doll Stanley, Director of IDA’s Hope Animal Sanctuary.

In Defense of Animals hopes the offer of a reward will interest someone with knowledge of the crime to come forward.  A neighbor told Mr. Pickens he’d heard shots the night of December 8th.   IDA’s Hope Animal Sanctuary Director Stanley notes that random acts of violence towards animals, especially defenseless and vulnerable animals, are perpetrated by anti-social humans who often go on to inflict suffering upon human beings as well.

Anyone wishing to share information on this or any other criminal act against animals may contact In Defense of Animals at (662) 809-4483.

Contact: Doll Stanley, Director IDA-HAS, (662) 809-4483,  doll@idausa.org,
Lee Pickens, (662) 226-0884

Sacramento, Calif. (July 15, 2010) – Today a lawsuit was filed to stop the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from rounding up and removing nearly 2,000 wild horses and burros from the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area north of Susanville, California.

The roundup, slated to begin in August, is the second largest capture and removal operation planned by the BLM for Fiscal Year 2010. The legal action was filed in the Eastern District of California on behalf of ecologist Chad Hanson, Ph.D., wild horse sanctuary founder Barbara Clarke, DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary, local resident and wild horse enthusiast Linda Hay, and the animal protection organization In Defense of Animals (IDA).

This lawsuit comes on the heels of the deadliest DOI roundup this year in the Owyee Complex in Nevada. On July 10, 2010, the BLM rounded up 228 horses with the vast majority being stampeded by helicopter for eight miles in searing summer heat. BLM  reported that at least 12 mustangs, including colts 2 to 4 months old, have died thus far, with 7 suffering gruesome deaths from dehydration-related causes, including brain swelling and “water intoxication.” A lawsuit filed by Laura Leigh and a separate administrative appeal filed by IDA and ecologist Craig Downer had warned BLM of the dangers in proceeding with this summer roundup so close to the foaling season.

“The Department of Interior’s mismanagement of our public resources, so tragically revealed in the Gulf oil spill, extends to our nation’s treasured wild horses and burros,” said Stuart G. Gross, of Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy. “This suit aims to stop the agency’s mass and illegal removal of federally-protected mustangs from the range to serve the livestock industry and other commercial interests that exploit our public lands.”

The complaint alleges that the planned roundup violates both the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, “The BLM’s planned Twin Peaks stampede, roundup, removal, and off-site warehousing of these wild horses ignores the mandates and instructions of both laws in manner that is both arbitrary and capricious.  In essence, the BLM has engaged in a classic example of crafting a solution and then searching for a problem.”

“The Twin Peaks roundup represents nearly one-third of the 6,000 horses the BLM intends to round up in the next four months. The vast majority of these horses will end up in zoo-like conditions in government holding facilities in the Midwest,” said Bill Spriggs of Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney. “This scheme is not only fiscally unsustainable, it is also blatantly illegal.”

“The Department of Interior has a policy of removing mass numbers of wild horses from the range without supporting its conclusion that such drastic measures are ecologically necessary,” said environmental attorney Rachel Fazio. “They completely ignore current scientific information regarding the harm associated with their proposed roundup, refuse to provide the public with documentation and data to support their conclusions, and utterly disregard the damage done by livestock.  This circumvents  the legal requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act to fully inform the public and take a ‘hard look’ at the consequences of their actions and that is why we were forced to proceed to court.”

Plaintiffs in the litigation include ecologist Dr. Chad Hanson, a researcher at the University of California at Davis and author of numerous scientific studies, Barbara Clarke, wild horse expert and director of 2,000-acre DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary in Northeastern California, DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary, Linda Hay, a local resident who has visited and enjoyed the Twin Peaks horses for the past thirty years and In Defense of Animals.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has repeatedly stated the wild horse and burro program is not sustainable given that tens of millions of tax dollars are spent annually on the warehousing of wild horses in government facilities – yet the Department continues the same broken cycle of roundup-removal and stockpiling of wild horses contributing to the programs problems. The BLM consistently scapegoats wild horses and burros for range damage caused by livestock grazing. In Twin Peaks, for example, the BLM authorizes up to four times more cattle than wild horses, and nearly seven times more sheep than burros. The agency has the legal authority to limit livestock grazing in order to make more forage available for wild horses and burros, but routinely declines to pursue that option. Ecologists, wild horse experts and others support on-the-range management of the wild horses and burros as a means to maintain healthy herds and healthy range lands.

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 of this land, which must be shared with cattle. The Obama Administration has accelerated the removal of wild horses and burros from public lands in the past year.  There are currently more than 36,000 wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities and only 33,000 wild horses free on the range.

The lawsuit was filed pro bono by Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, with offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C., the national law firm of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney and San Francisco Bay Area-based environmental attorney Rachel Fazio.

A copy of the complaint is available here.

For Immediate Release

Contacts:

Stuart Gross, Esq., Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, (650) 697-6000
Rachel Fazio, Esq., (530) 273-9290
William Spriggs, Esq., Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, (202) 452-6051
Eric Kleiman, In Defense of Animals, (717) 939-3231

Deadly Nevada Roundup Kills 12 Mustangs Due to Desert Summer Conditions and Roundup-related Injuries

Reno, Nevada (July 14, 2010) — Today at 5 p.m., Judge Larry R. Hicks of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada issued a restraining order against the Department of Interior stating that “defendants are prohibited from carrying out the gathering of any wild horses from within the Owyhee, Rock Creek and Little Humboldt Herd Management Areas in the northwest of Elko County, Nevada, until further order of the court.” A hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday July 15 at 2:30 p.m.

On July 13, plaintiff Laura Leigh, a Nevada writer and artist, filed a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) seeking an injunction to prevent the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from carrying out the roundup of wild horses in the Owyhee Complex. At an initial July 13 hearing, BLM explained that the gather was previously scheduled and had been postponed to, at the earliest, Sunday July 18.

On the basis of this representation the court scheduled a hearing on Ms. Leigh’s motion for July 15. Today, July 14, at 2:30 p.m., the court was informed that the director of the BLM, Bob Abbey, had authorized an emergency gather of horses to begin at 6 a.m. on Thursday July 15, prior to the court’s scheduled hearing.

Judge Hicks wrote: “Based on this change in the BLM’s position, the court finds it necessary to grant an immediate injunction preventing the Tuscarora gathering of wild horses until further order by the court.”

On Saturday, July 10, 2010, the BLM captured 228 horses in the Tuscarora roundup. The majority of these mustangs — including newborn and young, vulnerable foals ­ were stampeded for eight miles over rugged terrain in summer desert conditions.

BLM reports that the majority of horses were in “good condition.” At least 12 mustangs — averaging under 5 years of age — have died so far, including seven who suffered gruesome deaths in the first 24-hours from dehydration-related causes, including colic, brain swelling and “water intoxication,” which happens when dehydrated horses drink too much water. Another horse was shot to death at the trap site after breaking his leg.  Three colts, aged 2 – 4 months, are also among the victims.

The BLM proceeded with the summer roundup despite Ms. Leigh’s lawsuit and a pending legal action filed by Advocates for the West, a public interest law firm, on behalf of In Defense of Animals, both of which warned of danger to the horses of a roundup in the summer heat and so close to foaling season. Ms. Leigh’s lawsuit addresses the removal of the wild horses and the BLM’s violation of her First Amendment rights by prohibiting her from observing and videotaping the roundup operations.

The BLM plans to remove approximately 1200 wild horses, leaving behind just 337 wild horses in the 500,000-acre Owyhee public lands complex.

Read Judge Hicks’ Order here.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Deniz Bolbol, IDA, 650-248-4489

Seven Deaths on First Day of Roundup Makes This Deadliest Roundup of the Year

Tuscarora, NV (July 12, 2010)  – Today, In Defense of Animals (IDA), an international animal protection and rescue organization, is calling for a summer moratorium of all roundups and is blasting the Department of Interior which, despite a federal lawsuit and legal appeal, began a controversial roundup of wild horses in Northeastern Nevada on July 10 which has resulted in seven (7) fatalities and numerous injuries in just the first day of the roundup. BLM has indicated that 228 wild horses were captured. These horses were stampeded with the use of a helicopter over eight miles in the deadly desert summer heat. The majority of deaths are dehydration-related.

“That the BLM refused to even postpone this roundup knowing full well the life-threatening nature of conducting them during the hot summer months in desert country is yet another example of this agency’s unwillingness to change,” said Todd Tucci, Senior Staff Attorney at Advocates for the West, a leading public interest environmental law firm. “Had the BLM done the on-the-range management as Congress intended they would have known the conditions of the horses and the range and would have averted this unnecessary tragedy deliberately inflicted by the BLM. The Interior Department must halt all summer roundups before other horses are subjected to similar inhumane treatment and conditions.”

Because of these preventable deaths, the BLM has temporarily suspended this ill-fated roundup. It is not known when BLM will resume it.

The Owyhee roundup which began only ten days after the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) identified “peak foaling season” (which ends on June 30th) unnecessarily subjects newly-born foals and pregnant mares to life-threatening conditions including the helicopter-created chase, or stampede, of horses for miles over rugged terrain in desert summer temperatures. Nevadan Laura Leigh, a artist and published author, filed a lawsuit to stop the Owyhee Complex roundup in federal court on July 9. The lawsuit outlines the Interior Departments’ lack of legal basis for the roundup and the Department’s lack of public access to view and document the roundup. On July 8, IDA and ecologist Craig Downer, represented by Advocates For the West, a leading conservation group, filed an Appeal and Petition to Stay with the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) regarding the same Owyhee Complex roundup. The Appeal and Petition to Stay further challenges the agency’s determination that the Owyhee Complex horses are “excess” and therefore must be removed, and cited the summer heat and the danger to newborn foals and pregnant mares because of the roundup’s occurring only ten days after peak foaling season had ended. The Appeal and Petition to Stay seeks to postpone the roundup until at least after August 15.

The BLM reports that 228 horses were rounded up on July 10. BLM indiscriminately rounds up wild horses without any regard to age, condition or health — a direct violation of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. This July 10 roundup would include young foals, some of whom may have been born within the last week or so, creating inhumane conditions which would expose the vulnerable youngsters to life-threatening health problems and possibly death. BLM itself acknowledges that “summer gathers pose increased risk of heat stress” and “death can result.” In addition, running young foals can cause a multitude of physical health problems including hoof, skeletal and development issues.

The BLM’s Tuscarora Field Office, despite receiving written opposition from thousands of Americans, decided to move forward with the roundup and removal of approximately 1,200 wild horses from the Owyhee Complex – which includes three herd management areas comprised of 482,000 acres north of Elko in northeastern Nevada. The planned roundup only leaves behind only 337 wild horses on the 753-square-mile area. While severely restricting the number of horses on the Owyhee Complex, the BLM allows private ranchers to graze thousands of cattle in this same area (through livestock allocations).

The BLM plans to roundup and remove approximately 6,000 wild horses in the next four months. Currently there are more wild horses (36,000) in government holding facilities than free on the range (33,000).  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has repeatedly stated the wild horse and burro program is not sustainable given that tens of millions of tax dollars are spent annually on the warehousing of wild horses in government facilities – yet the Secretary continues the same broken cycle of roundup-removal and stockpiling of wild horses contributing to the programs problems. In Defense of Animals continues to work with ecologists, wild horse experts and others to push for on-the-range management of the wild horses and burros as a means to maintain healthy herds and healthy range lands.

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 plans to remove nearly 12,000 wild horses and burros from public lands by October 2010.  There are currently more than 36,000 wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities and only 33,000 wild horses free on the range.

Advocates for the West is one of the leading conservation groups working to protect and restore public lands, water, and wildlife in the American West. The non-profit public interest organization is located in Boise, Idaho.

For Immediate Release

Contacts:

Todd Tucci, Advocates For the West, 208-342-7024, ext. 202
Eric Kleiman, In Defense of Animals, 717-939-3231

1,200 Wild Horses To Be Stampeded For Miles in Desert Heat Creates Unnecessary Fatality
Risk for Young Foals, Weak and Older Horses

Washington, DC (July 9, 2010) – Yesterday, In Defense of Animals (IDA), an international animal protection organization, and ecologist Craig Downer, represented by Advocates For the West, a leading conservation group, filed an Appeal and Petition to Stay with the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) regarding the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Owyhee Complex roundup scheduled to begin today.

The Appeal and Petition for Stay states that the planned roundup – scheduled to begin only nine days after the BLM’s identified “peak foaling season” which ends on June 30th – unnecessarily subjects newly-born foals to life-threatening conditions including the helicopter-created chase, or stampede, of horses for miles over rugged terrain in desert summer temperatures. The Appeal and Petition to Stay further challenges the agency’s determination that the Owyhee Complex horses are “excess” and therefore must be removed. The scheduled roundup, which indiscriminately rounds up wild horses without any regard to age, condition or health, would include young foals, some of whom may have been born within the last week or so, creates inhumane conditions which would expose the vulnerable youngsters to life-threatening health problems and possibly death. BLM acknowledges that “summer gathers pose increased risk of heat stress” and “death can result.” In addition, running young foals can cause a multitude of physical health problems including hoof, skeletal and development issues.

The Appeal and Petition for Stay seek to postpone the roundup until at least after August 15.

The BLM’s Tuscarora Field Office, despite receiving written opposition from thousands of Americans, decided to move forward with the roundup and removal of approximately 1,200 wild horses from what is called the Owyhee Complex – which includes three herd management areas comprised of 482,000 acres north of Elko in northeastern Nevada. The planned roundup only leaves behind only 337 wild horses on the 753-square-mile area. While severely restricting the number of horses on the Owyhee Complex, the BLM allows private ranchers to graze thousands of cattle in this same area through livestock allocations.

“The BLM’s refusal to even postpone roundups knowing the life-threatening nature of conducting them during the hot summer months in desert country is yet another example of this agency’s unwillingness to change,” said Eric Kleiman, research director for In Defense of Animals. “We’ve heard a lot of talk from the BLM about change – yet their actions continue the same ill-conceived, business-as-usual attitude. It is well-documented that conducting roundups in July unnecessarily subjects young foals to life-threatening conditions, yet once again the BLM ignores the science.”

“BLM’s wild horse program is another symptom of the Department of Interior’s fundamental mismanagement of our public lands and resources,” said Todd Tucci, Senior Staff Attorney at Advocates for the West. “There is a clear pattern that Department policy is driven by special interests, not the public good. Owyhee is a case in point of this mismanagement and of the violation of laws and regulations.”

The BLM plans to roundup and remove approximately 6,000 wild horses in the next four months. Currently there are more wild horses (36,000) in government holding facilities than free on the range (33,000).  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has repeatedly stated the wild horse and burro program is not sustainable given that tens of millions of tax dollars are spent annually on the warehousing of wild horses in government facilities – yet the Secretary continues the same broken cycle of roundup-removal and stockpiling of wild horses contributing to the programs problems. In Defense of Animals continues to work with ecologists, wild horse experts and others to push for on-the-range management of the wild horses and burros as a means to maintain healthy herds and healthy range lands.

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 plans to remove nearly 12,000 wild horses and burros from public lands by October 2010.  There are currently more than 36,000 wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities and only 33,000 wild horses free on the range.

The Appeal and Petition for Stay are available here.

For Immediate Release

Contacts: Todd Tucci, Advocates For the West, 208-342-7024, ext. 202
Eric Kleiman, In Defense of Animals, 717-939-3231


Advocates for the West is one of the leading conservation groups working to protect and restore public lands, water, and wildlife in the American West. The non-profit public interest organization is located in Boise, Idaho.

Planned Capture of 2,000 Mustangs and Burros Sets Stage For Court Battle Over
Federal Wild Horse Management Program

Washington, DC (June 22, 2010) – Today, the national law firm of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney P.C. (BIR) notified the U.S. Department of Justice that it intends to file suit over the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) proposed roundup and removal of 1,855 wild horses and 210 burros in the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA) located in Northeastern California. The letter was written after extensive public comments on the roundup (available here) were submitted to the BLM by In Defense of Animals (IDA), which also filed suit in federal court last November over the controversial roundup of nearly 2,000 wild horses from the Calico Mountains Complex in northwestern Nevada.

“We maintain the BLM’s practice of removing and warehousing mustangs is illegal and if the BLM does not relent, we intend to prove it in court,” said William J. Spriggs, lead counsel with BIR. “It’s time for the BLM to postpone the scheduled roundups and to begin a dialogue on how to manage these horses on the range as Congress intended. If the Twin Peaks horses are rounded up, the vast majority will end up in zoo-like conditions at government holding facilities – the BLM already has more horses in holding than free on the range.”

“The Department of Interior’s BLM and Minerals Management Service (MMS) have both reneged on their responsibility as stewards of our public lands by giving free reign to interests that exploit public resources for private gain,” Spriggs continued.  “In the same way MMS betrayed the public’s trust by allowing oil companies free rein in the Gulf of Mexico, the BLM consistently caters to a small group of ranching interests and other industries that exploit our public lands at the expense of the horses and other wildlife species.”

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s recent appointment of BLM Director Bob Abbey to bring “reform” to the MMS exemplifies this connection. IDA has criticized the move, calling for President Obama to truly “clean house” by firing the “industry-cozy” Abbey and Salazar.

Last week, IDA submitted extensive comments on the BLM’s Preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) for the “Twin Peaks Herd Management Area Wild Horse and Burro Gather Plan.” IDA’s 20 pages of comments blast BLM’s population estimates and include BLM internal records and memos, BLM-funded studies and research plans, a photograph of a crippled wild horse taken by an ex-BLM horse specialist and other damning material demonstrating that the BLM’s proposed roundup is illegal and violates the mandates of the 1971 Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

IDA’s comments are available here.

The BLM intends to remove 80 percent of the horses living in the Twin Peaks HMA, in order to reach an Appropriate Management Level of just 448-785 wild horses and 72-116 burros on the 789,852 acre area. At the same time, BLM authorizes up to four times more cattle than wild horses in Twin Peaks and seven times more sheep than burros. The BLM roundup plans involve the use of helicopters to stampede horses for up to ten miles in the hot summer months – most foals will only be four to five months old. Of the horses rounded up and removed, family members will be separated for life and stallions will be castrated before being sent to long-term holding facilities in the Midwest. The roundup is scheduled to take place during the hot summer months of August and September 2010 – because mule deer hunters had complained that the “nuisance and noise” of the roundup would “dramatically reduce the quality of their hunting experience” in September and October – and is expected to take 45 to 60 days, costing American taxpayers millions of dollars.

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 256 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 plans to remove nearly 12,000 wild horses and burros from public lands by October 2010.  There are currently more than 36,000 wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities and only 33,000 wild horses free on the range.


For Immediate Release

Contacts:

William Spriggs, Esq., Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, (202) 452-6051
Eric Kleiman, In Defense of Animals, (717) 939-3231

Plaintiffs Promise To Continue Fight to Halt BLM Illegal Practices

Washington, D.C. (May 24, 2010) – Today, the Honorable Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court in Washington DC, dismissed on standing and mootness the lawsuit brought against U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) by animal protection organization In Defense of Animals (IDA), wildlife ecologist Craig Downer and children’s author Terri Farley. The Calico wild horse lawsuit has drawn intense public scrutiny to the government’s wild horse program and its routine policy of removing wild horses from their native western range on public lands and stockpiling them in long-term holding facilities in the Midwest, costing taxpayers of tens of millions of dollars annually.

The Calico lawsuit, filed pro bono by the law firm Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney (BIR), sought to stop the roundup of a proposed 2,500 wild horses from the half-million (500,000) acre herd management area complex, which is comprised primarily of publicly-owned lands. In a preliminary ruling, the Court agreed that the the government’s practice of sending wild horses to the Midwest and warehousing them in long-term holding facilities as likely illegal.

Today’s decision did not address the merits of that argument, only the lack of standing by plaintiffs to bring it. The Judge also ruled that the arguments challenging the roundup methods were moot because the roundup had already occurred.

“We remain confident in the merits of our case and look forward to pursuing this legal issue in the near future,” said William J. Spriggs, lead counsel for BIR in this case. “The BLM’s practice of removing horses from the western range and warehousing them in Midwestern holding facilities is flat out illegal, and the judge’s preliminary ruling in this regard was correct.”

The Calico Mountain Complex roundup of 1,922 wild horses is one of the largest roundups in recent years. The BLM removed at least 80-90 percent of the Calico wild horse population, leaving behind an “estimated” 600 horses on the 550,000 acre (or 859 square mile) Complex in northwest Nevada. The roundup ended on February 4, 2010, 500 horses short of its target for removal.  The roundup proceeded despite a ruling by Judge Friedman suggesting that the BLM postpone the Calico roundup. To date, 97 horses have died during or after the roundup and more than 50 heavily pregnant mares have spontaneously aborted fetuses due to the stress of the roundup and  holding.

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 256 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 plans to remove nearly 12,000 wild horses and burros from public lands by October 2010.  There are currently more than 36,000 wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities and only 33,000 wild horses free on the range.

For Immediate Release

Contacts:

William Spriggs, Esq., (202) 452-6051
Eric Kleiman, 717-939-3231

Nevada’s Wild Horses and Burros
from
8NewsNOW.com
April 16, 2010

LAS VEGAS — The Calico Hills wild horse roundup has been characterized by the Bureau of Land Management as a huge success. But wild horse advocates say it was a disaster, and one that grows worse every day.

The roundup ended months ago, but the horses are still paying the price — many with their lives — according to animal activists.

The case for the Calico wild horse roundup continues to deteriorate months after the government spent nearly $2 million to capture every mustang it could find in the rugged and remote terrain adjacent to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

From the beginning, the BLM claimed the gather was for the good of the horses and the good of the range, but it doesn’t appear either of those justifications were on the up and up.

First, there weren’t nearly as many mustangs on the range as BLM predicted. The roundup of about 1,900 mustangs fell short of the target by about 700. Second, the vast majority of the horses gathered were in good shape — not starving or emaciated.

BLM manager Gene Seidlitz said his agency was trying to avert a disaster down the road when food might be more scarce. As it turned out, the roundup itself was a disaster for the herds.

Horse advocates tried to stop the operation by arguing in court that chasing horses across miles of rocky terrain in the dead of winter was dangerous. BLM replied that it was safer than normal since snow on the rocks would cushion the damage to hoofs.

As of April 15, 2010, a total of 79 of the horses captured from Calico have died — some as a result of injuries suffered during the capture, such as a foal which literally ran its hoofs off. The rest because they could not adjust to eating the rich hay fed to them at a new holding facility in Fallon. In addition, at least 40 mares suffered miscarriages during or after the roundup.

The total number of horses that have died is more than four times what BLM projected, ranking as one of the deadliest operations in the history of the program.

“That’s unfortunate, but the percentage that died due to the gather itself is still a low percentage,” said Seidlitz.

Wild horse advocates don’t see it that way. They are outraged over the deaths, even more so now that an outbreak of a disease known as pigeon fever has been noticed among the horses penned up in Fallon.

Another recent development puts the Calico roundup in a different light. Horse advocates were suspicious of the reasons for the roundup, as if 2,000 horses could not live on half a million acres. The suspicions were heightened when BLM memos showed the horses were not having a major impact on the range just a year before the gather was approved, which is when BLM quadrupled the amount of cattle grazing allowed on the same range.

A massive pipeline project, the Ruby Pipeline slated for the same range, was suspected as a possible reason for the roundup. On its website, BLM states categorically that the pipeline has nothing to do with the horses. Now horse advocates have obtained documents from February 2009 which show pipeline backers intended to work with BLM to “minimize wild horses and burros along the pipeline right of way,” adding that BLM horse experts were consulted about this plan.

Two weeks ago, a Washington D.C. law firm filed a suit in federal court on behalf of the group In Defense of Animal, asking that the remaining 1,800 horses being held in Fallon be returned to the open range on the grounds that warehousing the mustangs for the rest of their lives is not only costly, but illegal. We will keep you updated as that suit works its way through the courts.

Plaintiffs Seek Return of 1,900 Captured Horses to Range

Washington, DC – The landmark Calico wild horse lawsuit which has triggered enormous controversy over the government’s program will be in Federal Court for final oral arguments on Thursday, May 6.

The Calico lawsuit, filed pro bono by the law firm Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney (BIR) against the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), has resulted in the Honorable Judge Paul L. Friedman to preliminarily determine as illegal the government’s practice of sending wild horses to long-term holding facilities in the Midwest.

WHAT: Final Oral Arguments in Federal Lawsuit Regarding Calico Wild Horses of Nevada

WHEN: Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 2:00 p.m.

WHERE: Courtroom 29A, U.S. District Court, 333 Constitution Ave. N.W., Washington, DC

“To date, 87 horses have died during or as a result of the roundup, some under extremely cruel circumstances,” said William J. Spriggs, lead counsel on the pending wild horse lawsuit against DOI and BLM filed pro bono by the international law firm Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney. “Those deaths, and the suffering of the survivors, need never have occurred if the BLM had followed Judge Friedman’s suggestion to postpone this roundup.”

“A viable plan, unrelated to our lawsuit, to place the surviving horses within Calico while making range improvements to increase the Appropriate Management Levels in the Calico Complex has recently been submitted to the Secretary of Interior,” concluded Spriggs. “We strongly believe that this option represents the best way to redress the BLM’s violations of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act uncovered in this case.”

Plaintiffs include international animal protection organization In Defense of Animals, renowned ecologist Craig Downer and popular children’s author Terri Farley. A final ruling in the case is expected in late May.

The Calico Mountain Complex roundup of 1,922 wild horses is one of the largest roundups in recent years. The BLM removed at least 80-90 percent of the Calico wild horse population, leaving behind an “estimated” 600 horses on the 550,000 acre (or 859 square mile) Complex in northwest Nevada. The roundup ended on February 4, 2010 — 500 horses short of its target for removal.  The roundup proceeded despite a ruling by Judge Friedman — in the lawsuit brought by Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney — questioning the legality of the BLM’s long-term holding facilities and suggesting that the BLM postpone the Calico roundup.

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 256 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 plans to remove nearly 12,000 wild horses and burros from public lands by October 2010.  There are currently more than 36,000 wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities and only 33,000 wild horses free on the range.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 5, 2010

Contact: William Spriggs, Esq., (202) 452-6051
Eric Kleiman, (717) 939-3231

Wild Horse Lawsuit Secured Reprieve For Calico Horses, Now Plaintiffs Move To Rescue Horses From Lifelong, Zoo – Like Holding

Washington, DC – In a final brief filed today, wild horse advocates are asking a federal court to order the government to return to the Nevada range approximately 1800 wild horses who, after being rounded up earlier this year, await their fate at government holding pens located approximately 200 miles from their home range in Nevada’s Calico Mountain Complex. The international law firm of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, on behalf of plaintiffs In Defense of Animals (IDA), ecologist Craig Downer and author Terri Farley, highlighted the Honorable Judge Paul L. Friedman’s preliminary analysis that long-term holding of wild horses in the Midwest is likely illegal when asking for the court to order defendants Department of Interior (DOI) and Secretary Ken Salazar to find room for the captured Calico horses on the more than 30 million acres of public lands designated as wild horse herd areas.

Early in the case, Plaintiffs secured a reprieve for the captured horses ensuring that no horses would be moved to long-term holding and that no stallions would be gelded (castrated) until Judge Friedman issued a final ruling. This ensures that the horses remain in suitable condition to be reintroduced to the wild.

“It’s time for Interior Secretary Salazar to acknowledge that warehousing wild horses in Midwestern holding facilities is illegal and that new approaches to wild horse management are urgently needed,” said William J. Spriggs, lead counsel on the pending wild horse lawsuit filed pro bono by Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney. “The place to start is with the return of the Calico horses to the wild Nevada rangelands where they belong. Next, the Interior Department must shift its resources toward minimally feasible on-the-range management of our wild horses, as Congress intended when it passed the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act.

To date at least 79 horses have died as a result of the Calico roundup and more than 40 heavily pregnant mares have spontaneously aborted. In addition, an unknown number of Calico horses at the holding pens have been reported to have “Pigeon Fever,” a highly contagious bacteria-based disease which is known to be spread by flies. The bacteria lives and multiplies in dry soil and manure.

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for April 24.  A final ruling in the case is expected in late May.

The Calico Mountain Complex roundup of 1,922 wild horses is one of the largest roundups in recent years. The BLM removed at least 80-90 percent of the Calico wild horse population, leaving behind an “estimated” 600 horses on the 550,000 acre (or 859 square mile) Complex in northwest Nevada. The roundup ended on February 4, 2010, 500 horses short of its target for removal.  Theroundup proceeded despite a ruling by federal court Judge Paul Friedman — in the lawsuit brought by Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney — questioning the legality of the BLM’s long-term holding facilities and suggesting that the BLM postpone the Calico roundup.
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 256 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 plans to remove nearly 12,000 wild horses and burros from public lands by October 2010.  There are currently more than 36,000 wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities and only 33,000 wild horses free on the range.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 31, 2010

Contact: William Spriggs, Esq., (202) 452-6051
Eric Kleiman, (717) 939-3231

495 Wild Horses in Eastern Nevada Get Reprieve

Washington, DC (February 8, 2010) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) postponed the proposed roundup of nearly 500 wild horses in the Eagle Herd Management Area in eastern Nevada, just three days after the national law firm of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney notified the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that it would sue to stop the helicopter stampede and capture, which had been scheduled to begin February 15.

The BLM received over 9,000 public comments on the proposed roundup, which would have left just 100 horses behind to roam over 670,000 acres of public land. It’s the second roundup cancelled by the BLM this year. In January, the agency announced that it was postponing the capture and removal of 200 horses from the Confusion Mountains Herd Management Area in Utah, after receiving thousands of letters in protest.

“We’re pleased that the BLM has postponed another ill-conceived, illegal and inhumane wild horse roundup,” said William J. Spriggs, lead counsel on the wild horse issue for Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney. “Now it’s time to reform the entire wild horse and burro management program. The BLM’s mass roundup up removal of horses from their rightful Western ranges is economically unsustainable and devastating to the West’s irreplaceable and historic mustang herds.”

In a press release Saturday, the BLM stated “there is not adequate time to safely conduct the proposed Eagle Herd Management Area (HMA) gather prior to the beginning of foaling season,” even though the agency was clearly aware of the timing when it scheduled the winter roundup.

The Eagle decision was announced a day after the BLM halted — several weeks early and 500 horses short of its 2,432 horse removal goal — the intensely controversial Calico Mountains Complex wild horse roundup. To date, 39 horses have lost their lives due to the helicopter stampede and capture at Calico and an additional 25-30 pregnant mares spontaneously aborted. Equine veterinary experts dispute the BLM’s claim that the miscarriages were due to poor nutritional condition of the mares, citing the stress and trauma of the roundup and capture as a more likely cause.

Spriggs’ lawsuit, filed on behalf of In Defense of Animals (IDA), ecologist Craig Downer and noted children’s author Terri Farley against the BLM over the Calico roundup continues in federal court with a hearing scheduled in April.

For Immediate Release

Contacts: William J. Spriggs, Esq., Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, (202) 452-6051
Eric Kleiman, IDA Research Director, (717) 939-3231, ericsk@idausa.org

At Issue: BLM Helicopter Stampede and Capture of 495  Wild Horses in Eastern Nevada

Washington, DC (February 4, 2010)  – The national law firm of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney yesterday notified the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that it intends to sue to stop the Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM)’s  planned roundup of nearly 500 wild horses living in the Eagle Herd Management Area in eastern Nevada.  The roundup, scheduled to start in mid-February, would leave just 100 horses behind to roam over 670,000 acres of public land.

“The Bureau of Land Management’s proposed plan fails to comply with the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act, rendering the action arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion,” wrote William J. Spriggs, lead counsel on the lawsuit in a letter sent yesterday to DOJ attorney Mr. Erik Peterson.

Last November, Spriggs was the lead attorney on another lawsuit on behalf of In Defense of Animals (IDA), ecologist Craig Downer and noted children’s author Terri Farley against the BLM’s round up and removal of 2,500 horses in the Calico Mountains Complex in Northwestern Nevada . The BLM proceeded with the roundup, despite U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman’s suggestion that the action be postponed due to the fact that the agency’s plan to stockpile most of the horses in long-term holding facilities in the Midwest was likely illegal. That case continues in federal court.

To date, over 30 horses have died as a result of the Calico roundup and 20 or more pregnant mares have spontaneously aborted. Deaths include a colt with a heart defect who collapsed and died while being chased by helicopter, a colt who was run so hard, fast and far that his hooves were severely damaged and partially sloughed off, a mare who crashed into a gate and broke her neck, and numerous horses who colicked and suffered painful deaths. As of February 2, the BLM had captured and removed 1,878 horses from their Calico range.

The new lawsuit from Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney attempts to protect the Eagle horses from the same fate.

“Our legal actions aim to halt the inherent cruelty of the BLM’s wild horse roundups, which traumatize, injure and kill horses, subvert the will of Congress and are entirely illegal,” Spriggs said.  “Americans strongly support protecting wild horses on their natural ranges in the West.  The Obama Administration must reform the BLM wild horse program to protect these animals in their western lands and uphold the will of Congress to preserve these horses as an important part of our national heritage.”

The number of wild horses warehoused by the government (35,000) now exceeds the number of horses left free on the range. The Obama Administration plans to capture and remove nearly 12,000 wild horses in Fiscal Year 2010, compounding a fiscal black hole that is costing American taxpayers tens of millions per year.

Meanwhile, wild horses comprise a minute fraction (0.5 percent) of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by cattle at least 200 to 1. Currently the BLM manages more than 256 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.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contacts: William Spriggs, Esq., (202) 452-6051;
Eric Kleiman, 717-939-3231

Newly Released Video of Downed Horse at Gov’t Facility Shows Plight of Captured Horses – Latest Fatalities Include Horses Dying from Broken Neck, Spinal Injury, Hoof Abscesses, Pelvis Injury

Count now stands at 22 fatalities; up to 25 injuries & 20 spontaneous abortions

Washington, DC – January 28, 2010 – As the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) reels amidst mounting horse deaths resulting from its unnecessary and cruel helicopter roundup of horses in northwestern Nevada, In Defense of Animals (IDA) today released video of some of the latest fatalities including a downed mare who valiantly fought to stand but could not, and a mare having medical difficulties during a spontaneous abortion.

The BLM reports that the growing death count from the Calico Mountain Complex roundup now stands at 22 horses. According to BLM spokesman John Neill, 20 mares have suffered spontaneous abortions, which occurred after the heavily pregnant horses were stampeded by helicopter over treacherous terrain for up to 10 miles or more at full-gallop speeds.  An additional 20-25 horses are being treated for injuries and lameness sustained in the roundup.

Meanwhile, the BLM has severely restricted access for humane observers to monitor the roundup activities, limiting such observations to a few hours just three days a week. Even so, t during limited viewing of the helicopter roundup, public observers have witnessed horses being run at high speeds in frigid temperatures and sometimes over rugged terrain.

“The BLM’s brutal roundup methods clearly violate Congress’ intent that our nation’s wild horses be managed humanely and in a minimally intrusive manner,” said William J. Spriggs, of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney. Mr. Spriggs is lead counsel on a lawsuit filed pro bono on behalf of IDA, ecologist Craig Downer and noted children’s author Terri Farley to stop the roundup.

” America ‘s wild horses are protected by federal law as important parts of our national heritage, but they are being brutalized and destroyed by the BLM’s policy of massive roundups, removals and stockpiling of horses in Midwestern holding facilities,” Spriggs continued. “The entire program must be fundamentally reformed.”

The deaths reported by the BLM include:

* a young colt who had been stampeded so long and hard that his hooves were destroyed and his “hind feet abscessed and the outer hoof wall did separate” was euthanized at the holding facility after undergoing a painful two weeks of bandaged hoofs and treatment.
* A mare who crashed into a gate and broke her neck.
* A mare who went down in the transport truck on the four hour drive between the capture site and the holding facility and died shortly after arrival.
* A colt who collapsed and died while being chased by helicopter and separated from his mother

A full fatality list, compiled from the BLM’s daily updates is listed below.

The Calico Complex roundup began on December 28 and is scheduled to last through February. To date the BLM reports the capture of 1,326 horses of the 2,500 scheduled to be removed. That roundup proceeded despite a December 23, 2009 ruling by federal court Judge Paul Friedman — in the lawsuit brought by Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, questioning the legality of the BLM’s long-term holding facilities and suggesting that the BLM postpone the Calico roundup.

If the Obama Administration’s BLM continues its current course initially charted by the Bush Administration, it will capture and remove nearly 12,000 wild horses in FY 2010 from their Western ranges and place them in holding facilities, where they will join the more than 35,500 horses already stockpiled at taxpayer expense. The number of horses in BLM warehouses now exceeds those left on the range.

Wild horses comprise a minute fraction (0.5 percent) of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by cattle at least 200 to 1. The BLM has recently increased cattle grazing allotments in areas where wild horses are being removed. Currently the BLM manages more than 256 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.

#  #  #


CALICO MOUNTAIN COMPLEX ROUNDUP FATALITY LIST

(Taken from BLM “Gather Activity Updates“)

NOTE: Although the BLM reports 19 deaths at the Fallon holding facility, it has provided information only on 17 deaths. Three deaths have occurred at the trap site.

1/27

One filly found dead of unknown cause
Three mares of poor body condition killed; one spinal injury and one sole abscess and pelvis injury

1/25
One stallion was found dead, cause of death unknown

1/23
One mare crashed into a gate and broke her neck
Two mares killed due to poor body condition; not able to transition to new diet
One mare found dead in corral

1/21
One mare downed on transport truck arrived at facility; subsequently died
One colt suffered hoof sloughing as a result of the roundup; killed by injection after treated for 12 days

“About 20 to 25 horses at the facility have received treatment for various injuries or lameness.”

1/18
Foal born on 1/14 was killed on 1/15 because s/he could “not thrive”

1/14
Two mares and one stallion found dead; attributed to “failure to adjust to a change in feed”

1/13
One 12-year-old mare die after being at facility for four days; “weak and poor condition”

1/11
One mare found dead over the weekend; “result of dietary feed change”

1/7
*One 20-year old mare was killed; “poor body condition that was unlikely to improve”

1/1
*One colt run to death; “pre-existing pulmonary condition”

12/30
*One 20-plus-year-old mare  shot by riffle at the trap site; “unlikely her condition would improve”

*Indicates death at trap site.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Suzanne Roy, 919-697-938,  Deniz Bolbol, 650-248-2289

BLM Accused of Secrecy, Denying Full Public Access To Roundup And Gives Only Glimpse of Deaths & Suffering

Washington, DC – January 22, 2010 – The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is now revealing that two more wild horses have died and up to 25 are under treatment for injuries as a result of the helicopter stampede and roundup currently underway in the Calico Mountains Complex in northwestern Nevada.  In response, In Defense of Animals (IDA) is calling for full investigation of these deaths and full and ongoing access for public observers to all aspects of the highly controversial roundup and capture operation.

The latest victims of the BLM roundup include:

* A small colt was run so hard and long that he was killed due to “multiple hoof sloughs from the capture.”

* A mare who went down in the trailer transport truck after being stampeded by helicopter for miles into capture pens and loaded onto a trailer. No help was available for this downed mare on the 4-5 hour drive between Calico and the Fallon holding facility. She was still down on arrival and died shortly thereafter.

* 20 to 25 horses at the holding facility who are receiving “treatment for various injuries or lameness.”

“These latest tragic and unnecessary deaths document beyond doubt that the BLM helicopter stampedes violate federal requirements for humane and minimally-intrusive management of wild horses,” said Elliot M. Katz, DVM, president of IDA.

“In Defense of Animals is calling for a full and independent investigation of these and other fatalities and injuries caused by the Calico roundup,” Katz continued. “Further, we reiterate our request for full and continuing access for public observers to witness all aspects of the capture operation. Only then can full transparency of BLM’s activities be achieved.”

BLM is tightly controlling public access to the roundup and the Fallon feed lots where the horses are being held, thus no independent verification is available to document the conditions surrounding the continuing fatalities and injuries of horses in the roundup.

In November 2009, In Defense of Animals, ecologist Craig Downer and noted children’s author Terri Farley, represented by Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney and lead counsel William J. Spriggs, filed suit in federal court to stop the roundup. In December, U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled that the BLM’s plans to stockpile the majority of horses at holding facilities in the Midwest likely violated federal law. The BLM proceeded with the roundup, despite Judge Friedman’s suggestion that it be postponed.

Wild Horse Facts:

- The Obama Administration plans to remove 12,000 mustangs from their Western ranges in FY 2010. Most of these horses will end up in government holding facilities.

- The number of wild horses in government holding facilities (35,000) now exceeds those left in the wild (33,000 by BLM estimates).

- The wild horse population today is smaller than in 1974 when the BLM conducted its first census after Congress protected the horses due to their dwindling numbers.

- Wild horses comprise a minute fraction (0.5 percent) of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by cattle at least 200 to 1.

- The BLM manages more than 256 million acres of public lands. Cattle grazing is allowed on 160 million acres, while wild horses are restricted to 26.6 million acres of land that is shared with cattle.

- Since 1971 when Congress protected wild horses as “living symbols of freedom” and important parts of our national heritage, the BLM has removed over 200,000 horses from the range and taken away 20 million acres of wild horse habitat.

- The BLM frequently increases livestock grazing allotments after removing wild horses. Horses are also displaced for the benefit of other commercial users of public lands, including mining, oil/gas and other extractive industries.

- The Obama Administration proposes to spend up to 500 million tax dollars to purchase private lands in the Midwest and East to warehouse wild horses removed from public lands (which the taxpayers already own) in the West. In response to IDA’s lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Paul L.  Friedman ruled that these holding facilities are likely illegal.

- The mustang has spent hundreds of years acclimating to the arid, rocky terrain of the west and their presence on that landscape is part of our national heritage. Not only are they ill-suited to the wet, lush Midwestern climate but their absence from the west is an affront to our cultural history.

For Immediate Release

Contacts: Suzanne Roy, 919-697-9389,  Deniz Bolbol, 650-248-4489

Controversy Grows Over Gov’t Acceleration of Removing Wild Horses From Western Public Lands

Sacramento, Calif. – Wild horse advocates from In Defense of Animals (IDA), The Cloud Foundation, and other members of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign Coalition, will hold a rally Thursday, January 21, at 11 a.m. in front of the State Capitol Building, to call attention to the Obama Administration’s massive roundup and removal of wild horses from public lands in the West.  The largest of such roundups is currently underway in the Calico Mountains Complex, known as the National System of Public Lands, in northwestern Nevada .  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is removing over 2,500 horses, or 80 to 90 percent of the horses living in the Calico Complex.  To date, four horses have died in the Calico roundup, which began on December 28 and continues through February.

What: Rally for America ‘s WildHorses
Where: State Capitol, 10th Street between L and N
When: Thursday, January 21, 2010, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Press Conference at 12 p.m.

“The environmental assessment, which led the BLM to conclude that the horses should be removed, was wholly inadequate,” explains Ginger Kathrens, executive director of the Cloud Foundation. “BLM did not analyze the impacts of cattle grazing in the Calico Complex. When asked why, the agency said ‘this issue is outside of the scope of this environmental analysis.’ How convenient then, that wild horses can be blamed for range damage, and then removed at a cost of millions to the American taxpayer.”

“The Obama Administration’s decision to continue to spend millions of tax dollars to remove wild horses from public lands in the West to stockpile on private ranches in the Midwest is fiscally irresponsible,” said Elliot M. Katz, DVM, IDA president. “The BLM claims that it takes wild horses from their homes and families, stampedes them by helicopters, and warehouses them in pens for the good of the horses and the American taxpayers. Do they think we are stupid?”

“The BLM mismanages our public lands for one reason: to benefit commercial interests, such as cattle ranchers and other industries that exploit our lands and profit from the removal of the horses,” Katz continued.

If the Obama Administration’s BLM continues its current course, initially charted by the Bush Administration, it will capture and remove nearly 12,000 wild horses in FY 2010 from their Western ranges and place them in Midwestern holding facilities, where they will join the 35,000 horses already stockpiled at taxpayer expense. At that time, the number of horses in BLM warehouses will far exceed those left on the range.

A December 23, 2009, decision by federal court Judge Paul Friedman — in a lawsuit brought by IDA, ecologist Craig Downer, and renowned children’s author Terri Farley — found that the BLM’s Midwestern holding facilities are likely illegal, and suggested that the BLM postpone the Calico roundup.

Wild horses comprise a minute fraction (0.5 percent) of large grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by cattle at least 200 to 1. Currently, the BLM manages more than 256 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 of this land, where they are far outnumbered by cattle.

IDA and The Cloud Foundation are members of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, a coalition of 50 organizations representing over 10 million people nationwide, whose goal is protecting America ’s wild horses on their rightful ranges, our public lands.

For more information, visit www.idausa.orgwww.thecloudfoundation.org, and www.wildhorsepreservation.com .

Contacts:
Makendra Silverman, The Cloud Foundation, 719-351-8187, makendra@thecloudfoundation.org
Carla Bowers, Wild Horse Advocate and The Cloud Foundation, carla84bowers@yahoo.com
Suzanne Roy, In Defense of Animals, 919-697-9389, sroy@idausa.org
Elliot M. Katz, DVM, In Defense of Animals, 415-448-0075, emk@idausa.org

Ignoring public outrage, government hits milestone: number of wild horses in BLM warehouses exceeds those left on the range

Washington, DC (January 19, 2010) – Ignoring growing public outrage over the unnecessary mass roundups of wild horses, the Obama Administration has announced its next victims:  2,000 mustangs living in two herd management complexes in eastern Nevada . According to In Defense of Animals (IDA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)’s newest assault, when combined with the ongoing roundup of horses living in the Calico Mountain Complex in northwestern Nevada, will eliminate nearly 4,500 horses, or a quarter of the state’s estimated wild horse population.

The BLM recently announced that it is taking public comments on the next targets for capture and removal:

* 550 horses living in and near the Eagle Herd Management Area (HMA) in eastern Lincoln County (50 miles southeast of Ely), beginning mid-February and leaving only 100 horses in the 625,000 acre public lands complex; and

* 1,506 mustangs living in the Antelope Complex (east/southeast of Elko), leaving just 471 horses behind on more 1.3 million acres in a roundup scheduled for late summer/early fall.

“President Obama may go down in history for presiding over a deadly milestone for these living legends,” said William J. Spriggs of Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney, which filed a pro bono lawsuit to stop the Calico roundup on behalf of IDA, ecologist Craig Downer and popular author Terri Farley.  The case is ongoing in federal court.

“Under his watch, the number of wild horses stockpiled in government holding facilities has surpassed the number of mustangs left free and wild on the range. By reducing the number of horses to dangerously low numbers, the Obama Administration is placing the viability of these historic and unique herds at great risk,” Mr. Spriggs concluded.

Since December 28, the BLM has captured nearly 1,000 horses in the Calico Mountain Complex killing at least seven of them.  That roundup proceeded despite a December 23, 2009 ruling by federal court Judge Paul Friedman questioning the legality of the BLM’s long-term holding facilities and suggesting that the BLM postpone the Calico roundup.

More information on the Eagle roundup is here. Follow news of the Calico roundup and other important wild horse news on IDA’s  blog and get updates on Twitter.

Wild Horse Facts:

- The Obama Administration plans to remove 12,000 mustangs from their Western ranges in FY 2010. Most of these horses will end up in government holding facilities.

- The number of wild horses in government holding facilities (35,000) now exceeds those left in the wild (33,000 by BLM estimates).

- The wild horse population today is smaller than in 1974 when the BLM conducted its first census after Congress protected the horses due to their dwindling numbers.

- Wild horses comprise a minute fraction (0.5 percent) of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by cattle at least 200 to 1.

- The BLM manages more than 256 million acres of public lands. Cattle grazing is allowed on 160 million acres, while wild horses are restricted to 26.6 million acres of land that is shared with cattle.

- Since 1971 when Congress protected wild horses as “living symbols of freedom” and important parts of our national heritage, the BLM has removed over 200,000 horses from the range and taken away 20 million acres of wild horse habitat.

- The BLM frequently increases livestock grazing allotments after removing wild horses. Horses are also displaced for the benefit of other commercial users of public lands, including mining, oil/gas and other extractive industries.

- The Obama Administration proposes to spend up to 500 million tax dollars to purchase private lands in the Midwest and East to warehouse wild horses removed from public lands (which the taxpayers already own) in the West. In response to IDA’s lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Paul L.  Friedman ruled that these holding facilities are likely illegal.

- The mustang has spent hundreds of years acclimating to the arid, rocky terrain of the west and their presence on that landscape is part of our national heritage. Not only are they ill-suited to the wet, lush Midwestern climate but their absence from the west is an affront to our cultural history.

Contacts: Suzanne Roy, 919-697-9389,  Deniz Bolbol, 650-248-4489

Removal of 550 horses in eastern Nevada set to begin next month

Just When We Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse – Government Claims More Than 670,000 Acres Can Only Support 100 to 200 Horses

Dear IDA Members:

Wild horses chased by helicopter during roundupWe told you this was going to be a long, hard fight – thank you for sticking with us to take action on each and every unacceptable assault by the Obama Administration on our wild horses. We are up against the deeply entrenched special interests who want wild horses removed from public lands so they can conduct business as usual. That means cheap usage of our public land for their private profits at the horses’ and taxpayers’ expense.

It’s time to get public comments in on another large removal of wild horses which is planned by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This time the BLM intends to remove over 500 of the estimated 645 horses living in or near the “Eagle Herd Management Area” in eastern Nevada outside of Ely. While 500 individuals is fewer than the 2,500 horses currently being rounded up and removed from the Calico Complex in northwest Nevada (click here for Calico update), the Eagle roundup is even more ludicrous because it is 125,000 acres larger than Calico, but the government will only allow 100 horses to remain! In Calico, by contrast, 500-900 horses will be left behind in the approximately 500,000-acre public land complex.

The proposed Eagle HMA plan puts these wild horses at great risk because the BLM is reducing the number of horses to dangerously low numbers, which could threaten the viability of the herd. Many horse advocates believe this is the BLM’s method of systematically dwindling horse population numbers down to untenable levels in order to ultimately eradicate these American living legends from public lands.

The Obama Administration is continuing the Bush Administration policy of targeting wild horses in order to serve special cattle and other industry interests. Under President Obama’s oversight, the BLM is actually accelerating the pace of wild horse removals, with 12,000 horses targeted for capture from our public lands in Fiscal Year 2010 alone. The majority of these horses will be sent to government holding facilities, where they will join the 35,000 wild horses already stockpiled at taxpayer expense.

Click here to submit your comments today!

Controversy grows over removal of wild horses from public land

New York, N.Y. – Wild horse advocates will hold a rally Sunday at 1 p.m. in Columbus Circle, to call attention to the Obama Administration’s massive roundup and removal of wild horses from public lands in the West. The largest such roundup is now underway in the Calico Mountains public lands complex in northwestern Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is removing 2,500 horses, or 80 to 90 percent of the horses living in the Calico Complex.  Four horses have died in the Calico roundup, which began on December 28 and continues through February.

What:   Demo to protest BLM assault on wild horses
When:  Sunday January 17, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Where: Columbus Circle – 59th St. at the south end of Central Park and Broadway – near the statues.

Participating organizations include The Cloud Foundation, Equine Welfare Alliance, In Defense of Animals, Friends of Animals, The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, Return to Freedom, and other members of The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.

“The Obama Administration’s decision to continue to spend millions of tax dollars to remove wild horses from public lands in the West to stockpile on private ranches in mid-West is fiscally irresponsible,” said Elliot M. Katz, DVM, IDA president.

“The BLM mismanages our public lands for one reason: to benefit commercial interests, such as cattle ranchers and other industries that exploit our lands and profit from the removal of the horses,” Katz continued.

Cloud Foundation volunteer Lise Stampfli Torme said “We are outraged that the BLM has proceeded with the Calico roundup under a cloud of controversy and against a U.S. District Court judge’s recommendation. The agency has moved the capture points to private land where public access to observe the treatment of our living legends is severely restricted. An immediate moratorium on all wild horse roundups must be implemented until the BLM’s broken wild horse management program can be reformed.”

“An immense amount of tax dollars are being spent on the removal of wild horses while less intrusive and less costly ‘in the wild’ management alternatives exist,” says Neda DeMayo, founder of Return to Freedom American Wild Horse Sanctuary. “Americans want their wild horses to remain free and protected on the ranges where they currently exist. We are asking that the original spirit and intent of the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act be upheld so that our grandchildren’s children will know the herds, who are a vital link to our western heritage.”

If the Obama Administration’s BLM continues its current course initially charted by the Bush Administration, it will capture and remove nearly 12,000 wild horses in FY 2010 from their Western ranges and place them in Midwestern holding facilities, where they will join the 35,000 horses already stockpiled at taxpayer expense. At that time, the number of horses in BLM warehouses will far exceed those left on the range.

A December 23, 2009 decision by federal court Judge Paul Friedman — in a lawsuit brought by IDA, ecologist Craig Downer and renowned children’s author Terri Farley — found that the BLM’s Midwestern holding facilities are likely illegal, and suggested that the BLM postpone the Calico roundup.

Wild horses comprise a minute fraction (0.5 percent) of large grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by cattle at least 200 to 1. The BLM manages more than 256 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.

For more information, visit www.idausa.orgwww.thecloudfoundation.org, and www.wildhorsepreservation.com.

Contacts:

Jo De George, jo@degeorgedynamic.com, 917-742-8201

Suzanne Roy, In Defense of Animals 919-697-9389, sroy@idausa.org

Makendra Silverman, The Cloud Foundation, 719-351-8187, makendra@thecloudfoundation.org

Neda DeMao, Return To Freedom, 805-588-5105

Capture of 200 horses postponed after massive public outcry

Fillmore, Utah (January 7, 2010). . . . After receiving thousands of protest emails from supporters of In Defense of Animals (IDA), officials in Washington , DC have ordered the Bureau of Land Management to postpone the roundup 200 horses living peacefully in the Confusion Mountains in Utah.

The agency had planned to begin the roundup next week, without public comment and without conducting a current Environmental Assessment (EA) on the impact of the plan to leave just 60-100 horses behind in this 225,000-acre public lands complex.  On its website, the BLM’s Fillmore office warns the public that chasing or catching wild horses that live on BLM lands there is unlawful because “Foals, pregnant mares and older horses are easily hurt when pursued, so please allow them to live a free and un-harassed life.”  Yet the BLM intended traumatize and harass these very horses by helicopter stampedes that run the animals over miles of rough terrain at full gallop speeds, often injuring and/or killing young foals, older horses and pregnant mares.

Yesterday, in an alert to its supporters, IDA exposed the BLM’s plan to evade public scrutiny in its capture of the Confusion horses.  Less than 24 hours later, the BLM has completely reversed course, postponing the roundup until at least July. The agency will now conduct an Environmental Assessment and allow for public comment.

“Clearly, the BLM’s complete about-face on the Utah horse roundup is directly related to the massive public outcry,” said Eric Kleiman, IDA’s director of research, who first uncovered the BLM’s plan to evade public scrutiny of the Utah roundup. “The public is sending a strong message to the Obama Administration that it is time to stop the assault on our nation’s wild horses and burros. The BLM’s mismanaged, wasteful and inhumane wild horse and burro program must be reformed, and the first step is a moratorium on unnecessary and inhumane roundups.”

Meanwhile, the BLM’s assault on the wild horses living in the Calico Mountain Complex in northwestern Nevada continues. As of yesterday, 424 Calico horses had been stampeded by helicopters into capture pens, leaving over 2,000 more of these iconic animals in the BLM’s sights over the next 30 days. At least two Calico horses have died so far and one foal has been orphaned.

A December 23, 2009 decision by federal court Judge Paul Friedman — in a lawsuit brought by IDA, ecologist Craig Downer and renowned children’s author Terri Farley — found that such long-term holding facilities are likely illegal, and suggested that the BLM postpone the Calico roundup.

If the Obama Administration’s BLM continues its current course initially charted by the Bush Administration, it will capture and remove nearly 12,000 wild horses in FY 2010 from their Western ranges and place them in Midwestern holding facilities, where they will join the 35,000 horses already stockpiled at taxpayer expense. At that time, the number of horses in BLM warehouses will far exceed those left on the range.

Wild horses comprise a minute fraction (0.5 percent) of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by cattle at least 200 to 1. Currently the BLM manages more than 256 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.

Contact:

Eric Kleiman, IDA Research Director, 717-939-3231, ericsk@idausa.org

Deborah Peterson, ReinFree, 801-580-7441, debpeterson.now@gmail.com

BLM Captures More Than 299 Wild Horses in First Week of Calico Roundup Scheduled To Last Two Months

Winnemucca , Nevada - A government autopsy on a young foal run to death in a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) helicopter stampede of wild horses living in the Calico Mountain Complex in northwestern Nevada sheds more light on the trauma befalling these iconic animals at the hands of the Obama Administration.

The necropsy (animal autopsy) report states that the little foal collapsed twice while being chased for at least a half-mile by a government-contracted helicopter. Ten minutes after the second collapse, BLM wranglers found the colt dead.

“This six-month old, dark bay/brown foal’s final moments were filled with terror trying to escape the tax-payer-funded helicopters, which are chasing the Calico horses at speeds of 20-30 mph for three to five miles, and up to 10 miles,” said Suzanne Roy, program director of In Defense of Animals (IDA), which filed a federal lawsuit to stop the roundup.

“The little colt could not keep up with his family. Separated from his mother, he fell behind and died,” continued Roy . “The fact that this colt had a heart defect in no way justifies the trauma the Obama Administration’s senseless wild horse policies inflicted on this innocent young horse and his family.”

The necropsy report is posted at http://www.idablog.org/category/horse-campaign. One other fatality has been reported in the Calico Roundup: a mare “euthanized” by rifle by the BLM, orphaning her young foal. In addition, a stallion dubbed “Freedom” made a spectacular escape from the BLM trap pens on January 2 by scaling six-foot fence and crashing through barbed wire. Read about his dramatic escape at http://www.idablog.org/featured/calico-roundup-week-1-freedom-escapes/ .

The  roundup continues despite a December 2009 federal court ruling that the BLM’s plan to stockpile the horses in Midwestern holding facilities is likely illegal.

“We are disappointed that the Obama Administration has failed to heed the court’s recommendation that this controversial roundup be postponed,” said William J. Spriggs, of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, which filed a pro bono lawsuit to stop the Calico roundup on behalf of IDA, Nevada ecologist Craig Downer and noted children’s author Terri Farley. “We are on strong ground in charging that the BLM’s policy of stockpiling tens of thousands of horses in the Midwest , off their rightful Western ranges, is contrary to law, the intent of Congress and the will of the American people.”

As of January 4, the BLM had captured 299 Calico horses. The capture operation has now moved from private land in Paiute Meadows Ranch to private land in Soldier Meadows where they will remain for the next two weeks. Public access to observe the roundup is being strictly limited and controlled by the BLM.

Under the Bush administration the numbers of wild horses removed by the BLM from their Western ranges tripled. Despite promising change, the Obama administration has accelerated the pace of removals, with plans to capture 12,000 wild horses in 2010. The majority of those horses will be sent to long-term holding facilities in the Midwest , where they will join 35,000 wild horses and burros already stockpiled by the BLM. Under the Salazar/Obama plan the government will warehouse in the Midwest nearly double the number of horses allowed to live freely on public lands in the West.

Wild horses comprise a minute fraction (0.5 percent) of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by cattle at least 200 to 1. Currently the BLM manages more than 256 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.

Contact: Suzanne Roy, In Defense of Animals, 919-697-9389; sroy@idausa.org

Winnemucca, Nevada – An older mare “euthanized” by rifle, orphaning her young foal, and a six-month old foal who collapsed and died after a helicopter chase are among the first week’s victims of the controversial Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) wild horse roundup in the Calico Mountains Complex in northwestern Nevada , In Defense of Animals (IDA) announced today.

In addition to the fatalities, a stallion was injured Saturday as he fought capture by charging, and finally jumping, a six-foot fence and crashing through barbed wire to make an escape to freedom, forced to leave his ten-member family behind.  An eyewitness report with photographs is available here: http://www.idablog.org/featured/calico-roundup-week-1-freedom-escapes/.

Since December 28, in just five days of the scheduled 50 – 60 day operation, the BLM has reportedly captured 160 horses and transferred them to privately-operated holding pens in Fallon , Nevada . The BLM reports that these horses will eventually be transferred to long-term holding facilities in the Midwest . The Calico roundup, the largest removal of wild horses in recent years, aims to permanently remove up to 2,500 horses, as much as 90 percent of the population, living in the half-million acre public lands complex.

“It’s wrong to move America ‘s wild horses off their rightful western ranges to put in BLM warehouses in the Midwest ,” said Elliot M. Katz, DVM, president of In Defense of Animals (IDA). IDA filed suit last month to stop the Calico roundup, alleging that the BLM’s plans to remove so many of the Calico horses violated federal law.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman, while declining to halt the roundup, did conclude that the BLM’s stockpiling of horses in Midwestern holding facilities was likely illegal. IDA has appealed to the Obama Administration to halt the roundup while the case continues in federal court in Washington , DC .

“The President should order a halt to this roundup until the legality of the long-term holding facilities is determined. The BLM itself says this is not an emergency roundup, so there would be no harm in waiting for adjudication of this enormously important issue,” said William J. Spriggs, of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, which filed the case on behalf of IDA, ecologist Craig Downer and noted children’s author Terri Farley.

“We are on strong ground in charging that the BLM’s policy of stockpiling tens of thousands of horses in the Midwest , off their rightful Western ranges, is contrary to law, the intent of Congress and the will of the American people,” Mr. Spriggs concluded.

Under the Bush administration the numbers of wild horses removed by the BLM from their Western ranges tripled. Despite promising change, the Obama administration has accelerated the removals, with plans to capture 12,000 wild horses in 2010. The majority of those horses will be sent to long-term holding facilities in the Midwest , where they will join 35,000 wild horses and burros already stockpiled by the BLM. Under the Salazar/Obama plan the government will warehouse in the Midwest nearly double the number of horses allowed to live freely on public lands in the West.

Wild horses comprise a minute fraction (0.5 percent) of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by cattle at least 200 to 1. The BLM has been repeatedly found in government audits to set artificially low horse population targets while authorizing livestock grazing increases at the same time. Currently the BLM manages more than 256 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.

Contact: Suzanne Roy, Program Director, In Defense of Animals, 919-697-9389, sroy@idausa.org

Los Angeles, Calif. – Wild horse advocates will hold a rally Wednesday at 11 a.m. in front of Senator Diane Feinstein’s Los Angeles office building, asking the senator to help secure a moratorium on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roundups of wild horses living on public lands in the West. The rally coincides with week two of a massive BLM roundup and removal of 2,500 wild horses living in the Calico Mountains Complex in northwestern Nevada . Another BLM roundup is scheduled to begin January 15 in Utah and a second Nevada roundup is slated for February.

The peaceful rally, organized by members of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign coalition, will feature actor Wendy Malick, supermodel and activist Tatjana Patitz, award-winning author Deanne Stillman, and Petrine Mitchum, daughter of legendary actor Robert Mitchum and author of Hollywood Hoofbeats, a history of horses in Hollywood . It is one of many rallies taking place across the country and internationally to protest the U.S. government’s destructive wild horse policy.

The BLM intends to remove up to 12,000 horses from their western ranges in 2010 and place them in Midwestern holding facilities, where they will join 33,000 wild horses already warehoused by the BLM at taxpayer expense. The number of horses in the BLM’s Midwestern warehouses now exceeds those left on the range.

What: Peaceful Rally for America ‘s Wild Horses
Where: Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Office, 11111 Santa Monica Blvd, Suite 915 , Los Angeles , California 90025
When: Wednesday, January 6, 2010, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

“An immense amount of tax dollars are being spent on the removal of wild horses while less intrusive and less costly ‘in the wild’ management alternatives exist,” says Neda DeMayo, founder of Return to Freedom American Wild Horse Sanctuary. “Americans want their wild horses to remain free and protected on the ranges where they currently exist. We are asking that the original spirit and intent of the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act be upheld so that our grandchildren’s children will know the herds, who are a vital link to our western heritage.”

“We’re calling on Senator Feinstein to once again become a champion of America ‘s wild horses,” said Elliot Katz, DVM, president of In Defense of Animals. “It’s wrong to move America ‘s wild horses off their rightful western ranges to put in BLM warehouses in the Midwest .”

Jill Starr of Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue added “How ironic that the very symbol of American freedom is quickly becoming a prisoner of hypocrisy. The iconic American mustangs are soon to be just ghosts blowing across our dusty deserts, haunting our memories, and that is all we will have left one day to remind us of what our country once believed in and stood for.”

Cloud Foundation volunteer Lise Stampfli Torme said “We are outraged that BLM is proceeding with this roundup under a cloud of controversy and against a U.S. District Court judge’s recommendation. The agency has moved the capture points to private land where the public cannot see how their contractors are treating our living legends. An immediate moratorium on all wild horse roundups must be implemented until the BLM’s broken wild horse management program can be reformed.”

Launched in 2004, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign was formed to help protect America ’s wild horses on their rightful ranges, our public lands. The campaign is represented by a coalition of 50 organizations representing over 10 million people nationwide.

For more information, visit www.idausa.org, www.returntofreedom.org, www.thecloudfoundation.org, www.wildhorserescue.org, and www.wildhorsepreservation.com.

Contacts: Neda DeMayo, Return to Freedom, 805-735-3246, 805-588-5105
Bill Dyer, In Defense of Animals, 310-301- 7730
Linda Lee, The Cloud Foundation, (714) 557-2691
Jill Starr, Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, 661-727-0049, 661-644-2120

MEDIA ADVISORY

EVENT COINCIDES WITH PRO-MUSTANG RALLIES IN CHICAGO, COLORADO, IDAHO AND LONDON

San Francisco, California (December 29, 2009)The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, a coalition of 50 conservation, horse advocacy and animal welfare organizations, and renowned author Terri Farley, whose Phantom Stallion book series for young readers has sold over a million copies worldwide,  will join In Defense of Animals and The Cloud Foundation at a protest tomorrow in San Francisco to oppose the ongoing roundup of thousands of wild mustangs off public land in Nevada.

What: Peaceful protest for all ages featuring Figaro the mini-horse, Fuffy the mini-donkey, and colorful signs and banners.
When: Wednesday, December 30, 2009.
Citizens gather at 11 a.m.; press conference at Noon.
Where: Outside Sen. Feinstein’s office, One Post Street, San Francisco
Why: Call attention to the ongoing, brutal winter roundup of 3,000 horses off public lands in northwestern Nevada and issue plea for help to Senator Diane Feinstein, who has always been a friend of America’s wild horses, and is the Chair of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee.

Similar rallies will be held Wednesday in Chicago, Colorado, Idaho and London.

The events take aim at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and its destructive wild horse and burro management policies, which threaten the very existence of this iconic American species. Of particular concern is a massive roundup that commenced this week in the Calico Mountain Complex in northwestern Nevada. The BLM intends to permanently remove 80-90 percent of the wild horse population living in the 500,000 acre public lands complex. At the same time, the agency has increased the number of privately owned livestock allowed to graze those same public lands.

Last week, a federal court judge ruled that the BLM plans to transfer horses taken from the Calico Mountains to holding facilities in the Midwest is likely illegal and suggested that the agency postpone the planned roundup.  Complaints are also pending with the Department of Interior and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Despite this, the BLM has not only proceeded with the roundup, but also has commenced the action on private land from which the public is barred.

“The BLM knows that its latest assault on wild horses is so shameful that it cannot stand the light of day,” said Elliot M. Katz, DVM, IDA president, who noted that the brutal helicopter stampede of the horses over treacherous winter terrain will result in injury and death to some horses, particularly the old, pregnant and the young. Foals will be separated from their mothers, and close family bonds will be forever shattered, he said.

Lise Stampfli Torme, a wild horse advocate and Cloud Foundation volunteer stated: “We are outraged that BLM is proceeding with this roundup under a cloud of controversy and against a US District Court judge’s recommendation. The agency has moved the capture points to private land where the public cannot see how their contractors are treating our living legends. An immediate moratorium on all wild horse roundups must be implemented until the BLM’s broken wild horse management program can be reformed.”

“An immense amount of tax dollars are being spent on the removal of wild horses while less intrusive and less costly ‘in the wild’ management alternatives exist,” says Neda DeMayo, founder of the Return to Freedom American Wild Horse Sanctuary and member of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. “Americans want their wild horses to remain free and protected on the ranges where they currently exist. We are asking that the original spirit and intent of the Wild Free Roaming horse and Burro Act be upheld so that our grandchildren’s children will know the herds, who are a vital link to our western heritage”.

The BLM intends to remove up to 12,000 horses from their western ranges each year for the next three years and place them in Midwestern holding facilities, where they will join the 33,000 wild horses already being warehoused by BLM at taxpayer expense. After three years, the number of horses in the BLM’s Midwestern warehouses will far exceed those left on the range.

For more information, see www.idausa.org and www.thecloudfoundation.org, and www.wildhorsepreservation.org.

Contacts:
In Defense of Animals:
Elliot Katz, DVM, 415.448.0048 x 225, emk@idausa.org
Hope Bohanec, 707.540.1760, hope@idausa.org

The Cloud Foundation:
Anne Novak, 415.531.8454, annenovak@yahoo.com
Makendra Silverman, 719.351.8187, makendra@thecloudfoundation.org

Rally outside Senator Feinstein's office aims to stop Nevada mustang roundups

San Francisco, Calif. - Wild horse and burro advocates and In Defense of Animals (IDA) are organizing a Wednesday rally in San Francisco. The mustang defenders will gather at noon in front of Senator Diane Feinstein's office building (One Post Street at Montgomery) asking the senator to help halt the federal Bureau of Land Management's (BLM's) massive roundup of thousands of mustangs living in the public Calico Mountain Complex in northwestern Nevada. The roundup is scheduled to begin today, despite a federal court ruling recommending that the action be postponed. It will begin in secret, on private land from which the public will be barred.

What: Protest for America's Wild Horses
Where: Outside Senator Diane Feinstein’s office, One Post Street, San Francisco
When: Wednesday, December 30, 2009, 11 A.M.; News Conference at Noon

“We invite concerned citizens of all ages to join us Wednesday, calling on Senator Feinstein, who has always been a friend of wild horses. We ask her to halt the largest and most controversial BLM mustang roundup in years,” said Elliot M. Katz, DVM, president of the Marin County-based In Defense of Animals, which is organizing the event in conjunction with the Colorado-based Cloud Foundation.

In a December 23, 2009 decision, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman said that the BLM’s plans to stockpile Nevada’s wild horses in Midwestern holding facilities is likely illegal, and consequently suggested that BLM postpone the Calico gather, saying it was an issue for Congress. IDA says that ruling, combined with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) violations cited in IDA’s complaints to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Interior Department, should warrant President Obama’s intervention to stop this roundup immediately.

Judge Friedman’s decision was made in response to a federal lawsuit filed by IDA, ecologist Craig Downer and noted children’s author Terri Farley to halt the roundup, involving a helicopter stampede and capture of 2,700 horses in the more than half-million-acre Calico Mountains Complex in northwestern Nevada. The horses will be traumatized, terrorized, and many will be injured and/or killed. Foals and their mothers will be separated and horse family bands will be shattered forever.

In response to the news that the BLM would commence the roundup in secret, IDA today released video of BLM chief Don Glenn, stating on December 7 that “all of our gathers are open to the public; the public is invited to watch all the time.”

Just a day before Glenn made that statement, the BLM completed the roundup of 217 horses on the California/Nevada border, an action that was taken illegally with no public notification. Two weeks later, the BLM denied a request by an IDA observer to witness a helicopter stampede of horses living in the Palomino Buttes area in Eastern Oregon, stating “no observers would be allowed or welcome at this roundup.”

In a 2008 report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the the BLM was not transparent with the public about how horses are treated under its Wild Horse and Burro management program.

“Americans will say good-bye to the wild mustang if they allow these secret roundups to take place.” said celebrated author Terri Farley, of the Phantom Stallion series for young readers. “By moving the Calico roundups to private lands, BLM is barring the press and public from watching what they do to our wild horses. Where are the caring BLM staffers I worked with once and dedicated my books to? These roundups are not the action of a humane and responsible agency,” continued Farley.

IDA asserts the wild horses are removed for the benefit of private livestock owners and other commercial users of public lands. Despite a Congressional mandate to protect wild horses in the Calico Complex, the BLM has increased the number of cattle grazing permits on public lands where they are removing wild horses. In doing so, the BLM ignores its federal mandate to remove livestock from federal wild horse management areas “if necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury” (43 CFR § 4710.5).

If the Administration continues its current course, it will capture and remove nearly 12,000 wild horses a year from their native Western homes for the next three years, after which time the number of horses in Midwestern holding facilities will number more than 50,000 and far exceed those left on the range.

For more information, see www.idausa.org and www.thecloudfoundation.org.

Contacts: In Defense of Animals: Dr. Elliot M. Katz, 415-448-0075;  Hope Bohanec, (415) 448-0048 x. 208 or (707) 540-1760 (cell); The Cloud Foundation: Anne Novak, 415-531-8454

Advocates Call on President Obama to Give America's Wild Horses a Christmas Reprieve

Washington, DC (December 23, 2009). . . . Wild horse advocates today celebrated a partial victory as U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman ordered a lawsuit challenging a Bureau of Land Management roundup of thousands of wild horses in Nevada forward, but denied a preliminary injunction to stop the removal of horses, which is scheduled to begin December 28.

Judge Friedman’s 25-page decision indicates that he found merit in IDA’s argument that the BLM’s practice of stockpiling tens of thousands of horses in long-term holding facilities in the Midwest is not authorized by law, and invited both parties to expedite briefing on that issue. Based on that preliminary finding regarding long-term holding facilities, Judge Friedman stated that “the agency’s [BLM] best option may be to postpone the [Calico] gather,” but he said that was for the BLM to decide while also noting potential harms in such a delay.

The decision is available at https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2009cv2222-25

Advocates are now calling on President Obama to give the horses a holiday reprieve after filing complaints with the Department of Interior and White House Office of Environmental Quality (CEQ) alleging multiple violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“The President should order a halt to this roundup until the legality of the long-term holding facilities is determined. The BLM itself says this is not an emergency roundup, so there would be no harm in waiting for adjudication of this enormously important issue,” said William J. Spriggs, of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, which filed the case on behalf of IDA, ecologist Craig Downer and noted children’s author Terri Farley.

“We are on strong ground in charging that the BLM’s policy of stockpiling tens of thousands of horses in the Midwest, off their rightful Western ranges, is contrary to law, the intent of Congress and the will of the American people,” Mr. Spriggs concluded.

Meanwhile, IDA is turning to the Administration in an effort to save the wild horses living in the Calico Mountains Complex which is comprised of more than 500 thousand acres in northwestern Nevada. Beginning December 28, the BLM intends to wipe out 80-90 percent of the estimated 3,000 horses there by stampeding them with helicopters over dangerous winter terrain into capture pens, then loading them on to trucks bound for government holding facilities in Kansas, Oklahoma and South Dakota. Just four years ago, the BLM rounded up more than two thousand wild horses in Calico in the winter of 2004-2005 and shipped 1,623 horses to short- and long-term holding.

“This is a Christmastime appeal to President Obama on behalf of America’s wild horses,” said Elliot M. Katz, DVM, IDA President. “While the President is enjoying the holidays with his lovely family, In Defense of Animals asks him to think of the horse families who are about to be torn apart forever in the BLM roundup. With the stroke of a pen, he can stop the terror that is about to befall the majestic wild horses of the Calico Mountains in Nevada.”

IDA is asking the Administration to halt the roundup, charging that the BLM violated NEPA by failing to adequately assess the environmental impacts of its massive wild horse capture plan. Over 10,000 public comments were submitted in opposition to the Calico roundup, which the BLM has stated will cost taxpayers $1.7 million.

Despite promising to deliver change, the Obama Administration has continued the Bush Administration’s policy of removing tens of thousands of wild horses from their rightful Western ranges, often to make room for increased grazing of privately-owned livestock on public lands. The BLM currently warehouses 33,000 wild horses in government holding facilities – the legality of which Judge Friedman has just questioned – yet intends to round up and remove 12,000 more horses a year from the West for the next three years. After that time, the number of wild horses held captive in zoo-like conditions will far exceed those left in the wild.

Contacts: William J. Spriggs, Esq., 202-452-6051; Eric Kleiman, 717-939-3231

D.C. hearing Wednesday on injunction against Nevada mustang roundup

Reno, Nevada (December 14, 2009) . . . Renowned children’s author and Nevada resident Terri Farley, whose famous Phantom Stallion book series has sold over more than a million copies world wide, has joined a lawsuit to stop a Bureau of Land Management (BLM)roundup of almost 3,000 mustangs in northwestern Nevada scheduled to begin Dec. 28.

A hearing on the lawsuit, filed by Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney on behalf of In Defense of Animals, ecologist Craig Downer and Farley, is scheduled for Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 11 a.m. in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before Judge Paul L. Friedman.

“I’m pleased to join this lawsuit on behalf of my readers worldwide who cherish America ‘s wild horses as a symbol of freedom,” Farley said. “If we allow the BLM to continue to ignore the will of Congress and the America people, then soon there will be no horses left to preserve.”

Farley’s Phantom Stallion books are set in the Calico Mountain Complex, where the BLM wants to remove 80 to 90 percent of the estimated 3,000 horses living in a 500,000-acre herd management area. A majority of the horses would be sent to government holding facilities, where they would join the 33,000 horses that BLM has removed from the range and stockpiled at taxpayer expense.

“The BLM’s plan to terrorize, traumatize and chase thousands of horses by helicopter over treacherous winter terrain is inhumane and entirely illegal,” said William Spriggs lead counsel. “We are confident that the court will agree that America ‘s wild horses are protected by law from such treatment.”

According to the BLM, wild horses are being rounded up to preserve the public lands.

“Public lands are used, sometimes irresponsibly, by many Americans,” author Farley continued. “The Calico Complex is no exception. Horses share the range with ranchers, sportsmen, and recreational users — from four-wheelers to the Burning Man Festival. The BLM claims a ratio of 8 million cattle to 37, 000 wild horses nationwide. Using their numbers, it’s clear BLM needs to cowboy up and make those who do the damage pay for it.”

The Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, passed unanimously by Congress in 1971, designated America’s wild horses and burros as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West,” specifying they “shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death … [and that] to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of public lands.”

Since 1971, the BLM has removed over more than 270,000 horses from their Western home ranges and taken away nearly 20 million acres of wild horse habitat. Only 37,000 wild horses and burros remain on public lands in the West. By contrast, millions of cattle graze our public lands. Thirty-two thousand wild horses that have been removed from the range are already held in government holding facilities, and the BLM intends to round up 12,000 more horses in FY 2010.

Contact: Suzanne Roy, Program Director, In Defense of Animals, 919-697-9389

Dozens of wild horse advocates plan to go before a federal advisory panel here on Monday to try to persuade public land managers to change their plan to relocate thousands of free-roaming mustangs from the West to preserves elsewhere.

By MARTIN GRIFFITH

Associated Press Writer
SPARKS, Nev. —

Dozens of wild horse advocates plan to go before a federal advisory panel here on Monday to try to persuade public land managers to change their plan to relocate thousands of free-roaming mustangs from the West to preserves elsewhere.

Read the entire article here.

Lawsuit aims to stop removal of 2,500 wild horses in northwestern Nevada

Reno, NV (December 5, 2009) – On Monday, December 7, In Defense of Animals (IDA), horse advocacy organizations and private citizens will gather in Reno, Nevada to urge the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board to recommend an immediate moratorium on all wild horse and burro roundups and a shifting of resources away from the inhumane roundup, removal and stockpiling of horses toward maintaining free-roaming wild horses on their federally-protected Western ranges.

The meeting will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m PST at the John Ascuaga’s Nugget, 1100 Nugget Avenue, Sparks, Nevada 89431 (hotel phone: 1-800-648-1177). Public comment is scheduled for 3 p.m.

More than 1,000 public comments have been submitted for the meeting; and over 150 horse advocacy and animal welfare organizations, joined by celebrities Sheryl Crow, Viggo Mortenson, Ed Harris, Lily Tomlin and others, signed a statement demanding a halt to the BLM’s wild horse roundups.

Although the BLM is already warehousing 33,000 wild horses in government holding facilities, it intends to round up and remove 12,000 wild horses and burros from their Western ranges each year for the next three years.

On November 23, the law firm Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney filed suit to stop the largest of these roundups — the scheduled removal of 2,500 horses from the Calico Mountain in northwestern Nevada . The BLM received over 10,000 public comments in opposition to its Calico Complex Capture Plan. Due to the lawsuit, which was filed pro bono on behalf of IDA and ecologist Craig Downer, the Calico roundup was postponed until the end of December, pending the outcome of a hearing in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia , scheduled for December 16.

“The BLM’s wild horse roundups, which use helicopters to stampede horses, terrorizing, traumatizing, injuring and killing them in the process, are entirely illegal,” said William Spriggs, Esq., lead counsel on the law suit. “The cruel roundups and mass stockpiling of wild horses and burros in holding facilities must stop and the Obama Administration must craft a new policy that protects these animals and upholds the will of Congress and the public’s desire to preserve this important part of our national heritage.”

In October of this year, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced his proposal for reform of the National Wild Horse and Burro program. IDA will urge the Advisory Board to recommend:

  • Rejection of Secretary Salazar’s proposal to purchase private land in the mid-West and East to house horses removed from their Western ranges. This approach is not fiscally responsible, given that the BLM already manages more than 26 million acres of public land specifically designated by Congress as wild horse habitat. That habitat, unique to the West, is necessary for the horses’ survival.
  • Elimination or restriction of livestock grazing in Herd Management Areas in order to allow wild horses and burros to remain in their designated ranges.
  • An end to the BLM’s stockpiling of wild horses as a management method and creation of viable sanctuaries in the west or designated range areas to house the 33,000 horses currently in government holding facilities.

Since 1971, the BLM has removed over 270,000 horses from their Western home ranges and taken away nearly 20 million acres of Congressionally-designated wild horse habitat. Only an estimated 37,000 wild horses and burros remain on public lands in the West. By contrast, millions of cattle graze our public lands.

Contacts: Suzanne Roy, 919-697-9389

Washington, DC (November 24, 2009) – The U.S. Department of Justice announced tonight that the massive roundup and removal of thousands of horses from public land in northwestern Nevada will be delayed until December 28 as a direct result of the filing of a lawsuit by In Defense of Animals and renowned ecologist Craig Downer on November 23.

Tomorrow, IDA and Mr. Downer plan to file a motion for a permanent injunction, with supporting affidavits from horse experts and eyewitnesses to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roundups. The motion will ask Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stop the roundup altogether.

The roundup and removal of 80-90 percent of the estimated 3,055 wild horses living in the BLM’s Calico Mountain Complex was originally scheduled to begin December 1. The BLM has received over 10,000 public comments in opposition to the roundup.

“We welcome this moratorium on the capture and inhumane treatment of the Calico horses,” said William Spriggs, Esq. of Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney, pro bono attorney for IDA and Mr. Downer. “The BLM plan for a massive helicopter roundup of these horses is entirely illegal.”

“We are confident that the court will agree that America’s wild horses are protected by law from BLM’s plan to indiscriminately chase and stampede them into corrals for indeterminate warehousing away from their established habitat,” he said. “The magnificent wild horses and burros of the American West are an important part of our national heritage and must be preserved.”

The Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, passed unanimously by Congress in 1971, designated America’s wild horses and burros as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West,” specifying they “shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death … [and that] to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of public lands.”

Since 1971, the BLM has removed over 270,000 horses from their Western home ranges and taken away nearly 20 million acres of wild horse habitat. Only 37,000 wild horses and burros remain on public lands in the West. By contrast, millions of cattle graze our public lands. Thirty-two thousand wild horses who have been removed from the range are already held in government holding facilities, and the BLM intends to round up 12,000 more horses in FY 2010.

Contacts: William Spriggs, Esq., (202) 452-6051; Eric Kleiman, 717-939-3231

Mass roundup of Nevada Wild Horses Inhumane and Illegal, Suit Charges

Washington, DC – In Defense of Animals (IDA) and ecologist Craig Downer today filed suit, in the federal U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to stop the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed massive roundup and removal of more than 2,700 wild horses from public lands in Nevada. The roundup, slated to begin in early December, will take virtually every wild horse living in the Calico Complex Herd Management Area in northwestern Nevada. It is by far the largest of any wild horse roundup planned by the BLM for Fiscal Year 2010.

“This suit aims to halt the inherent cruelty of the BLM’s wild horse roundups, which traumatize, injure and kill horses, subvert the will of Congress and are entirely illegal,” said William Spriggs, Esq., a partner at Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney and lead counsel on the law suit. The firm is representing IDA and Mr. Downer on a pro bono basis.

The suit alleges that the BLM plan to utilize helicopters to indiscriminately chase as many as 2,738 of the estimated 3,095 Calico horses into holding pens violates the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, passed unanimously in 1971. The Act designated America’s wild horses and burros as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West,” specifying they “shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death … [and that] to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of public lands.”

“Americans strongly support protecting wild horses on their natural ranges in the West.” Mr. Spriggs continued. “We hope to stop the cruel roundups and mass stockpiling of wild horses and burros in government holding facilities while the Obama Administration crafts a new policy that protects these animals and upholds the will of Congress and the public’s desire to preserve this important part of our national heritage.”

Since 1971, the BLM has removed over 270,000 horses from their Western home ranges and taken away nearly 20 million acres of wild horse habitat on public lands that were protected by Congress as being “necessary to sustain an existing herd or herds of wild horses and burros … and … is devoted principally … to their welfare.” The policy is based on the unsupportable claim that Western ranges cannot sustain wild horses and burros. These animals comprise a tiny fraction of animals grazing the range. An estimated 8 million livestock, but only 37,000 horses and burros, graze on public lands.

Thirty-two thousand wild horses who have been removed from the range are already held in government holding facilities, and the BLM intends to round up 12,000 more horses in FY 2010.

Contacts: William Spriggs, Esq., (202) 452-6051;
Eric Kleiman, 717-939-3231

The Associated Press

Saturday, October 17, 2009

RENO, Nev. — A new federal proposal to manage wild horses is rekindling debate over another fixture of the Western range: cattle.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last week proposed moving thousands of mustangs to preserves in the Midwest and East to protect horse herds and the rangelands that supportthem.

Interior Department officials had warned that slaughtering some of the 69,000 wild horses and burros under federal control might be necessary to halt the rising costs of maintaining them, but Salazar said his plan avoids that.

Read the entire article here.

In Defense of Animals to Call For Moratorium on Roundups and Humane Plan For 33,000 Wild Horses Currently in Gov’t Holding Facilities

Washington, DC — September 25, 2009 — On Monday, the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will discuss the government’s management of wild horses on public lands and hear outraged horse experts and advocates from around the country calling for change in the agency’s inhumane practices.

When: Monday, September 28, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. with public testimony starting at 3 pm.
What: Public meeting of BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board
Where: Hyatt Arlington, Virginia (1325 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington)

In Defense of Animals (IDA), an international animal protection organization, will speak at the hearing regarding the latest travesties against wild horses and call for:
- a moratorium on government roundups of wild horses,
- a requirement for formal humane, horse-advocate observers on any future roundups;
- a humane plan for the 33,000 wild horses the government currently keeps in holding facilities costing taxpayers $100,000 per day and tens of millions annually.

The Advisory Board meeting comes in the wake of controversy over the roundup and auction of the Pryor Mountain horse herds, including family members of Cloud, the near mythic stallion featured in the PBS Nature series “Cloud: Stallion of the Rockies.” The horses were rounded up earlier this month from their federally “protected” range on the Wyoming/Montana border.

An IDA observer documented the roundup, in which horses, including young foals, were injured and chased by helicopter to the point of lameness. Older, unadoptable horses were also captured and will be placed up for auction.

“Just two weeks ago, the majestic horses of Pryor Mountain were living wild and free with their families,” said Elliot Katz, DVM, IDA president. “Now those families have been shattered forever, and 57 of these beloved horses are imprisoned in BLM holding pens, awaiting an uncertain future. If the world’s most famous herd cannot be saved, then the future looks bleak for the wild mustangs that are part of our nation’s heritage.”

The BLM plans to round up thousands more mustangs to appease special interests like ranchers, who graze millions of cattle on public lands. By contrast, fewer than 30,000 horses remain free.

IDA is also calling for passage of the Restoring Our American Mustangs Act (ROAM) to protect wild horses. This summer the ROAM Act was passed by the House of Representatives and Introduced in the Senate by Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) where t is pending in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Family of Cloud, Wild Horse of PBS Fame, Dumped at Federal Auction Saturday

Lovell, WY (September 24, 2009) — This weekend, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will auction the offspring of the much-celebrated Cloud herd of wild mustangs, captured earlier this month, along with other horse bands, from the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range that borders Wyoming and Montana. In Defense of Animals (IDA), an international animal protection organization, is outraged at this latest travesty committed by the BLM, a division of the U.S. Department of Interior and the government agency entrusted to protect wild horses. A popular PBS Nature series, which has chronicled the story of the near-mythical wild stallion Cloud and his family, has brought into the public consciousness the plight of America’s wild horses. Wild horses have always been fixed in people’s minds as the embodiment of true and unfettered freedom.

“Just two weeks ago, the majestic horses of Pryor Mountain were living wild and free with their families,” said IDA President Elliot M. Katz, DVM.. “Now those families have been shattered forever. 57 of these beloved horses are imprisoned in BLM holding pens awaiting an uncertain future. If the world’s most famous herd cannot be saved, then the future looks bleak for the wild mustangs who are part of our nation’s heritage.”

The auction of Cloud’s family members on Saturday comes just two days before the BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board will hear public dissent over the government’s inhumane wild horse management program, which plans to round up thousands more wild mustangs, even as an astounding 33,000 horses are currently warehoused in government facilities at a cost to taxpayers of $100,000 per day and tens of millions annually.

An IDA observer documented the Pryor Mountain herd roundup, in which horses, including young foals, were mercilessly chased by helicopter causing injuries and lameness. In addition to members of Cloud’s family, four other bands of horses were rounded up from the Pryor Range, including older horses like Conquistador, a 19-year-old stallion and his 21-year-old mare.

“The inhumanity of the BLM’s policy is most evident in the roundup and auction of the older horses who are completely unsuitable for adoption. These horses have no future unless returned to the open range immediately,” Katz continued.

The Pryor Mountain horse roundup is just one of many BLM captures underway; in late August, the agency began roundups southwest of Ely, Nevada, intending to capture and remove more than 600 horses from 1.4 million acres of public lands.

At Monday’s public hearing, scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (public testimony at 3 p.m.), at the Hyatt in Arlington, Virginia, IDA will call upon the Obama Administration to reverse the BLM’s scandalous wild horse policy, which aims to remove thousands of additional horses from public lands while continuing to allow millions of privately owned cattle to graze those same public lands.

IDA is also supporting passage of the Restoring Our American Mustangs Act (ROAM), which would update existing laws that protect wild horses by prohibiting the killing of healthy wild horses and burros, removing restrictions on areas where horses can roam freely, and facilitating the establishment of wild horse sanctuaries, among other provisions. This summer. ROAM was passed by the House of Representatives on a 239-185 vote and is currently in the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee. When Congress unanimously passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burro Act of 1971, these wondrous mustangs were described as “the living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.” The horses who remain deserve our fierce protection.

Copyright © 2014 IDA News.