Group Lawsuit Filed to Stop Destruction of Colorado Mustang Herd

Press Release from HfH Advisory Council and The Cloud Foundation

Suit seeks immediate injunction, cites BLM’s violations of four Congressional Acts

New York City, NY (October 7, 2010)— A case filed today against Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar in federal court aims to stop the elimination of wild horses from Colorado’s North Piceance herd area. Plaintiffs Habitat for Horses (HfH), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), The Cloud Foundation (TCF), Toni Moore and Dr. Don Moore challenge the BLM’s ongoing illegal treatment of wild horses residing on public lands and it’s intention to completely remove all wild horses from this area beginning October 11, 2010.

The Plaintiffs’ attorneys, Bruce Wagman (Schiff Hardin) and Valerie Stanley, are asking the court for an injunction to stop BLM from removing any of these wild horses pending a complete judicial review of the BLM’s conduct. The complaint cites four counts and violations committed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM): violation of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Information Quality Act and the Federal Land Policy Management Act. The suit has been brought against BLM Director Robert Abbey and Field Manager of the Colorado White River Field Office Kent Walter, in addition to Secretary Salazar.

“The BLM’s ‘shoot from the hip’ policy of indiscriminately destroying and removing long standing wild horse herds has to come to an end,” says R.T. Fitch, Volunteer Executive Director of co-supporting organization HfH Advisory Council“Poor accounting, outdated data and disengagement from the reality of the range is the hallmark of the BLM’s business plan. They must be stopped.”

On September 10th, 2010 the White River Field office of the BLM issued its final decision to completely and permanently eliminate the herd of wild horses which has lived in partnership with the natural environment in the Herd Area for centuries.

BLM and other public agencies have eliminated over a third of wild horse herds  designated for protection by Congress in 1971,” explains Cloud Foundation Volunteer Executive Director, Ginger Kathrens. “Colorado has only a few hundred wild horses remaining and the destruction of yet another herd is unthinkable—cruel, costly and completely unnecessary. It is a managing to extinction policy that must stop.”

This action is co-funded by HfH Advisory Council and the ASPCA. A suit filed last week to protect the nearby West Douglas wild horse herd has so far resulted in a one-year postponement of that “zeroing out action.” The case remains in court.

The Cloud FoundationHfH Advisory CouncilASPCA and over 200 other organizations and tens of thousands of members of the public continue to call for an immediate moratorium on BLM wild horse and burro roundups. To date the BLM has not changed course and plans to roundup and remove a total of 3,295 wild horses and burros before the end of the year. Currently, nearly 40,000 wild horses and burros are held in pens and pastures at taxpayer expense.

Links of interest:

Legal documents filed today: http://bit.ly/d7ePWk

Congress Sends Letter for Wild Herds to Secretary Salazar http://bit.ly/54sign

Roundup Schedule- http://bit.ly/roundupsched

American Herds – “What’s Left?” http://bit.ly/WhatsLeft

Unified Moratorium on Roundups Letter http://bit.ly/MoratoriumLtr

Mestengo. Mustang. Misfit.  America’s Disappearing Wild Horses – A History http://bit.ly/8ZCk8e

Straight from the Horse’s Heart  http://www.sfthh.com

Stampede to Oblivion: An Investigate Report from Las Vegas Now  http://bit.ly/Stampede2Oblivion

Shortlink to this releasehttp://bit.ly/COmustangSuit

Photos, video and interviews available by request from the Cloud Foundation

The Cloud Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to the preservation and protection of wild horses and burros on our Western public lands with a focus on protecting Cloud’s herd in the Pryor Mountains of Montana. 107 S. 7th St. – Colorado Springs, CO 80905, p. 719-633-3842 www.thecloudfoundation.org

The Habitat for Horses Advisory Council is the “The Legal Voice of the American Equine” and is comprised of like-minded equine welfare oriented organizations and individual advocates. The Council works to progress relevant issues imperative to furthering the safety and well being of horses, both domestic and wild, in the United States. Habitat for Horses Advisory Council is a registered 501c4 non-profit corporation. P.O. Box 213, Hitchcock, TX 77563, p.1-800-974-FOTH  www.hfhadvisorycouncil.org

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was the first humane organization in the Western Hemisphere. Our mission, as stated by our founder, Henry Bergh, in 1866, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. 424 E. 92nd St New York, NY 10128-6804, p. 212-876-7700 www.aspca.org
Legal Documents Downloadable in “Box” Widget Bottom Right of Page

Nationwide Protests Planned to Halt Wild Horse & Burro Roundups

BLM’s failure to instate even a partial moratorium inspires protests around US

Boston, MA (October 7, 2010)— Following over 35 protests in late 2009/2010, rallies will resume this month in at least seven states nationwide to draw attention to the plight of America’s wild horse and burro herds. Protests in 12 more states are in the works. Currently nearly 40,000 wild horses and burros are held in pens and pastures at taxpayer expense while the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) private contractors rush to roundup over 3,200 more wild horses and burros before the end of the year. Despite the delivery of a Unified Moratorium Letter last fall to President Obama, Interior Secretary Salazar and BLM Director Bob Abbey which called for an immediate freeze on all non-emergency roundups—the BLM has not changed course. On July 30th, 54 Congressional Representatives sent a letter to both Secretary Salazar and Director Abbey demanding a moratorium and review of the wild horse and burro program.  Regardless of public and political outrage the BLM has not made an honest effort to work with Congress or the public on solutions and improved management of all of America’s remaining wild horse and burro herds.

“There is no excuse for BLM’s inability to manage America’s wild horses and burros,” explains Cloud Foundation Director and Emmy-award winning filmmaker Ginger Kathrens. “If the BLM wants to work with the interested public on solutions then our wild horses and burro herds require a ceasefire. Ground the helicopters and let’s talk about fixing things. Continuing the costly, poor management practices of BLM that is leading to the total annihilation of the last of our wild mustang and burro herds is inexcusable.”

Members of the public are encouraged to start protests in their hometowns and join those already planned. The media is asked to cover protests and learn more about the American mustangs and burros facing management to extinction by the Bureau of Land Management.

Protests Planned to Date:

BOSTON Freedom Friday Protest

WHERE: Massachusetts State House, behind the Boston Common in front of the State House
WHEN:  Friday, October 8, 2010 at 10:00am-2pm.
Come for an hour or spend the afternoon….bring a sign!

Contact: Carol Poole at mustangalley@hotmail.com for more info.

CONNECTICUT Protest:

WHERE: Downtown Stamford CT, on the Ferguson Library steps
WHEN: Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 2:00pm

Contact: Isabella Houghton: saverhorses@gmail.com

LAS VEGAS Rally:

Plus free concert: Grey Beard Bandit (Wild Horses Need our Voices)
Real (gentled) wild mustangs and guest speakers
WHERE:Horseman’s Park, 5800 E Flamingo Rd Las Vegas, NV 89122
WHEN: Monday, October 11 · 3:00pm – 6:00pm

Contacts:Shelly Smith shelly5711@yahoo.com or Katie Ellen Barron lotrfla300@yahoo.com

ARIZONA Protest:

WHEN: Helldorado Weekend, Oct.16 & 17th.  10:00am
WHERE: Downtown Tombstone, Arizona

CONTACT: Deb Catlett deborahcatlett@aol.com for more info

UTAH Protest:

WHEN: Saturday, October 16, 2010 at 11:00am
WHERE: County Bldgs (the old courthouse). 179 N. Main St., Logan, Utah

Contact: Kristy Amado kfamado@msn.com

COLORADO Protest:

WHEN: Saturday, October 16, 2010,11:00am- 2:00pm
WHERE: Southwest corner of Canyon & Broadway

Contacts: Linda Hanick vlhanick@gmail.com or Cathy Bryarly robcathyderek@peoplepc.com or 303-746-4729

SACRAMENTO Protest

WHEN: October 23, 10am-2pm
WHERE: at the West Steps of Capitol Bldg (10th and Capitol Mall) Contact: Janet Schultz: 1fastback@att.netAdditional protests are being planned for: Iowa, Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, New Hampshire, Maine, South Carolina, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Florida and Vermont.

Links of interest:

Congress Sends Letter for Wild Herds to Secretary Salazar http://bit.ly/54sign

Roundup Schedule- http://bit.ly/roundupsched

American Herds – “What’s Left?” http://bit.ly/WhatsLeft

Unified Moratorium on Roundups Letter http://bit.ly/MoratoriumLtr

Mestengo. Mustang. Misfit.  America’s Disappearing Wild Horses – A History http://bit.ly/8ZCk8e

Straight from the Horse’s Heart http://www.sfthh.com

Stampede to Oblivion: An Investigate Report from Las Vegas Now  http://bit.ly/Stampede2Oblivion

Shortlink to this release http://bit.ly/WHrally2

Photos, video and interviews available by request.

The Cloud Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to the preservation and protection of wild horses and burros on our Western public lands with a focus on protecting Cloud’s herd in the Pryor Mountains of Montana.

107 S. 7th St. – Colorado Springs, CO 80905 ~ www.thecloudfoundation.org

Outrage Continues Over Bloody BLM Wild Horse Stampede in NV

Press Release from Grass Roots Horse

First Amendment Rights Don’t Exist with the U.S. Government

One of the wounded of the BLM's Silver King tragedy ~ photo by Laura Leigh

Legal documents were filed in Reno, NV on October 4, 2010 adding to the Temporary Restraining Order Motion that was filed earlier by Laura Leigh against Ken Salazar, Dept. of Interior, Robert Abbey, Bureau of Land Management and Ron Wenker, NV State Director of BLM.

The legal action asks for full accountability and transparency from the Bureau of Land Management as they capture wild horses from the Silver King herd in Nevada. Plaintiff Laura Leigh is a photojournalist and videographer whose work documenting wild horses is gaining international attention. The lawsuit addresses the BLM’s violation of the First Amendment right for the public to witness and report on the government in action, specifically the capture of wild horses and the denial to allow access to enable meaningful reporting.

This right was previously upheld in court decision made by the Honorable Larry Hicks in the July 2010 case on the Owyhee, Rock Creek, Little Humboldt wild horse roundups which closed public lands.

As evidence mounts pointing to retaliatory measures by the BLM against Leigh by allowing her and another member of the public even less access to document  the roundup operations, (which the BLM euphemistically refers to as “gathers”), it becomes increasingly clear that public and press observations are critical.

“I left in disgust over the constant battle over meaningful access. I left three trap sites as my access to witness the activities of the contractor during the moment of capture was non-existent,” said Laura Leigh.

When the boundaries to access were pushed on Wednesday, October 6, 2010, the one moment the public and press were able to witness was the death of a Silver King stallion that apparently broke his neck on one of the fencing panels and went down hard.

The Silver King lawsuit is all about “access” to witness and document the activities during and after the round ups.  “Support for this legal action is critical and it is about accountability for the wild horses –horses that were deemed so important by Congress that they warranted protection,” said the plaintiff Leigh. “We are failing these horses from the range all the way through. We don’t really even know where ‘all the way through’ is since we have no verification of where they are taken or where they ultimately end up,” she continued.

With severely limited access, Laura Leigh could see and pointed out areas that could create a potentially deadly safety issue, specifically a big gap from a loading ramp onto a trailer where foals had been kept separated from their mothers for five hours. Nothing was done to remedy the unsafe condition and a foal did fall through.

Filmmaker Elizabeth Slagsvol flew in from the East Coast and then drove twelve hours to attend one day out of the only two scheduled public observation days for the Silver King roundup which is set to last about three weeks. “I left,” said Beth on Tuesday, October 5, 2010 after she had traveled on good faith that she would be able to witness and document the roundups at the public observation day. “You couldn’t see anything at all. I told Chris (referring to Chris Hannefield, BLM public relations contact) this wasn’t the deal and he replied, without facing her, ‘there is no deal,’ ” said Slagsvol.  The idea of scheduling a public observation day is for the public to observe. Initially the BLM intended to close public lands for this roundup, but when the Silver King lawsuit was filed, the BLM reversed itself within twenty four hours of filing, keeping public lands open and scheduling two observation days.

The numbers posted by the BLM on their daily gather reports, which do not appear daily, show the numbers of wild horses captured and shipped, and do not match records of horses arriving at their intended destinations. “What is really going on out there?” asks Maureen VanDerStad of Grass Roots Horse, the equine welfare and mustang advocacy group that is supporting the legal actions. “We have a right to know and the public wants to know what is happening to these animals and where are they going. The BLM has lost any trust and confidence the public may have had in the program and the courts are our only option for remedy as well as our only hope of saving these horses that are our national treasure.”

The legal filings, including photographs, are available on the legal page of http://www.grassrootshorse.com

Grass Roots Horse is a non-profit equine welfare and mustang advocacy group that is supporting the legal actions.  To support this critical endeavor, please visit http://www.grassrootshorse.com