Lawsuit to Protect Wild Horses Continues Despite Denial of Injunction Against Massive Roundup

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

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

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. _________________________________________________________________________________

IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS • 3010 KERNER BLVD. • SAN RAFAEL, CA 94901 • 415-448-0048

45 Comments on “Lawsuit to Protect Wild Horses Continues Despite Denial of Injunction Against Massive Roundup”

  • arlene orlando wrote on 24 December, 2009, 7:19

    I have just heard of the Judges decision about the Wild Mustangs I am devastated for them and speechless, I believed in American justice , now I cannot believe it wasnt clear for the Judge that the BLM is clearly defying The R.O.A.M Act …………..

  • jean public wrote on 24 December, 2009, 7:31

    we need to get judges like this off the bench. obama needs to change bush judges. bush appointed the worst of them. they have no environmental understanding at all and are feted by wildlife murderers far too often with special trips and “conferences”

  • janice sterling wrote on 24 December, 2009, 8:50

    after hearing how 3 senators were bribed to pass the health care bill, i am not surpirsed that this administration feels they are above the law and that includes the people at the blm – they dont care about the horses – they were told to wipe them out – the wants and desires of the american people do not matter to anyone in washington

  • suzanne o'meara wrote on 24 December, 2009, 10:23

    am shocked, & horrified at this crue l brutal decision & feel highly afraid & suspicious , because of the hidden implications & so on in this , & i really do feel completely horrified & traumatised & on verge of tears , am so upset you could allow this taunting of the dear divine horses , to expose them after freedom ,. to now face slaughter , & doing this behind their backs – the shock is so severe , you have no idea what you have done -barbarians !!!!!

  • C. Jackson wrote on 24 December, 2009, 10:56

    I have been waiting for the decision about our wild horses, anticipating good news. Now I find myself shocked and deeply saddened about the outcome of the lawsuit. I thought this was a “no-brainer” to stop the BLM from future round-ups. Apparently not.

  • J.Blythe wrote on 24 December, 2009, 15:56

    This is disgusting and so very heartbreaking – is there anything we can do by uniting and protesting somewhere? I feel so helpless.

  • CARINA wrote on 24 December, 2009, 16:09


  • margaret Southwell wrote on 24 December, 2009, 16:29

    What do you expect? “One can tell the moral progress of a nation by how it treats its’ animals.” Ghandi

    Our politicians and their appointees lack courage and leadership. They are negotiators and compromisers, not leaders.

    The BLM needs to answer to the American people NOT be an entity unto themselves.

    Why isn’t birth control widely used for these mustangs? My Vet informs me “they” are working on a birth control implant. I know PZP WORKS. Why, WHY, wasn’t a birth control program in place. That could have prevented the need for round ups.

    The BLM should be re-organized with some forward thinking , humane solutions and leadership instead of the same old answer: kill or round up. Disgusting.

  • Harley L wrote on 24 December, 2009, 17:55

    How disappointing….By Judge Friedman NOT postponing the Calico gather and leaving the decision in the ‘ Blood Letting Machine’s’ reign of terror. the horses don’t stand a chance. The BLM has proven time and time again, they think they’re above the law. They’ve illegally adopted out horses, sent horses to laughter, they hire a convicted felon to do roundups. They don’t use accurate information. Thier own inside agency memos discuss eradicating all mustangs. They’re bought off by the big cattlemen, mining, and oil companies…….that’s just the start. WHEN WILL THE MUSTANGS BE PROTECTED????

  • Laurie Hein wrote on 24 December, 2009, 19:04

    These horses must be saved! Maybe more media news coverage needs to be given here to expose what’s going on! Whatever it takes-this has to be fixed-NOW!!!!!!

  • Cat Hall wrote on 24 December, 2009, 19:40

    This news hit me hard. I too thought it was a no brainer and that the horses would be granted a reprieve. Tried calling President Obama today and was told that the comment line was closed for the holidays and will reopen again on the next business day. Guess which day that is? December 28. A little late by then for the Calico herd isn’t it? This whole thing reeks of corruption. Makes me sad, angry and so very frustrated. Where is someone with ethics that has the power to save these horses?!

  • C. Jackson wrote on 24 December, 2009, 20:18

    I just read that any sick, lame or old horses (from the round-up) will be destroyed. Hearing that the round-ups will continue was bad enough, but reading that horses will be destroyed is absolutely heartbreaking. I, too, feel helpless with this horrific news……isn’t there anything we can do??

  • Devin McCormick wrote on 25 December, 2009, 14:25

    I have no faith in Washington. It seems like regardless the party in office whether republican or democrat, all these politicians think of is themselves and their well being. I don’t see any of them standing up and saying, “This is wrong”, “This is draconian”, “This is similar to ethnic cleansing”. The way animals of all kinds are treated, whether its wild horses, dogs, cats, cows, pigs, rabbits, and all other farm, domestic, and wild animals, brings images of Nazi’s and KKK and skin heads. Humans should be ashamed of themselves. We are horrified when we read of children being kidnapped or raped or tortured or seniors being abused, but these same things are happening every day in front of everyone’s eyes and a cold shoulder is all that is given. Humans deserve all disasters and attrocities that are bestowed upon them for their treatment and disregard for other species. The day humans go extinct is the day that animals can celebrate their equivelent of 4th of july. I pity the human species.

  • j. civis wrote on 25 December, 2009, 20:18

    I am so outraged about the judges decision to allow the roundup on Monday, the 28th! Again,
    it seems this administration is doing whatever it wants to do, despite the concern and will of the American people. God help these poor defenseless animals that are harming no one and only want to be left to roam free, where they belong, in the West. If the judge questioned the horses being held in government holding pens, why didn’t he address that first, without allowing the horse roundup to still take place? Something MUST be done to protect them!

  • Susan Querze wrote on 26 December, 2009, 7:12

    I just can’t believe they will allow round ups to be continued. Is there anything more we can do? Sometimes out government is so dissappointing. This has to be about money-greed can be the only reason why this is continuing and it’s disgusting. The BLM only kills-that is their solution to everything-is there any way animal activites can get on the BLM board so we can start changing things. Their like Fishiers and Wildlife-which is made up of hunters-that’s why everything is always mismanged and the animals end up dead.

  • Tammy Hahn wrote on 26 December, 2009, 7:23

    This is terrible. There needs to be something done to further the protection of these beautiful animals. Stop the round ups. and try to find adoptive homes for the current mustangs in holding cells. Or find someone who is willing to put a sanctury area for the current ones that are in the holding cells. Stop the December round up. The BLM should be concentrating of the horses they have now. not trying to destroy the last wild horse herds we have left. Leave them alone. They are hurting them more than helping them.

  • Kathe Hustace wrote on 28 December, 2009, 19:26

    Thank you, thank you! for stepping forward and bringing this suit to protect the wild horses. The policies of the BLM over the past 30 years have clearly been in violation of the intent of the Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, gathering numbers far in excess of the adoption demand, thereby insuring the continued demise of the horse and burro in the wild! Crafty subterfuge has allowed the BLM, in response to demands by cattle and sheep grazers, to reduce the wild population from 70,000 in the 1970s to their quoted 37,000 today. 27,000 reside in corrals, crowded and creating injury, poor development from lack of natural exercise and inbreeding among the decimated herds left on the range. I am owned by 2 proud, strong mustangs – never needing to be shod. I have 4 rescues currently – and all of them have some hoof defect – clearly indicating herd mismanagement. All came out of Nevada – shame on the BLM! Furthermore, just last year the BLM was looking to euthanize the 27,000 they are holding! And they are adding more to that? And shipping them to the midwest where advocates will not be able to monitor them perhaps making it easier to find these horses “unadoptable” and therefore slaughter bound!!!!!!!!!!! I will mail my donation to your fund tomorrow! Thank you thank you! Kathe

  • Jane Bicquette wrote on 29 December, 2009, 9:57

    Regarding the first two comments made here: Arlene Orlando, the ROAM Act passed the US House of Representatives, but is stalled in the Senate. It is being modified, or it could be “dead” there. The ROAM ACT is NOT (yet) LAW!!!! To Jean Public (above) Judge Friedman was appointed by the Clinton Administration, NOT the Bush Administration. Folks, if you could study up on current law(s), get your facts straight, it makes your voices FOR the horses strong and credible. The LAW needs changing. And Judge Friedman’s decision points us in the direction where we can break through to force changes that will help our wild ones. And yes, President Obama needs to reform the BLM. Writing President Obama is what we must do. And write your Congresspersons, too! Tell them that the BLM needs reform and needs it NOW! But please study up and get your facts correct, for the horses, please?!!??!

  • B.Lonkani wrote on 29 December, 2009, 16:08

    They have Whale Wars, why can’t we have Horse Wars. I would like to take the battery out of the helicopter so it couldn’t fly and round up these symbols of our Nation.

    The wild west was tamed on the backs of the Mustangs and Burros, now we break their backs in cruel winter round-ups. The world is watching and what they see us do to our own Symbol of America, tis shameful.

  • isabel lardner wrote on 1 January, 2010, 9:18

    I think that it totally sucks-what the BLM are doing to the wild horses. I mean they’re basically just rounding up horses that have lived on the range for generations, and they’re terrifying them in the process.Then, they ship the horses off to long term holding pens that are little better then zoos!!!
    I mean people, COME ON these are the symbols of our nation here,not some idiot bovine!!!!. I mean,there are 3 words that could solve this whole problem-BIRTH CONTROL PROGRAM!
    The BLM says that they’re “helping” the horses,when in fact they are are destroying the few wild horse herds that we have left. They need to listen to what the American citizens are saying.I say GO IDA!!!!!!!!!!!

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