Lawsuit Filed to Halt BLM’s Scheduled Roundup and Removal of Wild Horses from Northwestern Colorado’s Herds

horse_photos.Par.85398.Image.500.375.1(photo from West Douglas: BLM)

Press Release for immediate release

Lawsuit Filed to Halt BLM’s Scheduled Roundup and Removal of Wild Horses from Northwestern Colorado’s Herds

Roundup Threatens to Zero out the West Douglas Herd

Washington DC – (Sept. 6, 2015) – Late Friday afternoon, a lawsuit was filed in federal court by The Cloud Foundation (TCF), Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF), The Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition (CWHBC), Dr. Don Moore and Toni Moore of Fruita, CO., and Barb Flores of Greeley, CO. to block the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) proposed round ups of wild horses from northwestern Colorado’s herds.

The lawsuit filed in United States District Court in Washington, D.C. by Valerie Stanley and Mara Hurwitt alleges that the BLM violated the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFRHBA), by authorizing the removal of 167 wild horses from public lands in West Douglas Herd Area (WDHA) and Piceance East Douglas Herd Management Area (PEDHMA).  The BLM authorized the zeroing out of the WDHA and a significant reduction in the number of horses in PEDHMA without conducting proper environmental analyses and without making substantiated findings required by the WFRHBA.

For decades the Bureau of Land Management has attempted to obliterate the West Douglas Herd claiming “wild horses that reside in the WDHA are impacting the landscape and the ability to maintain a thriving, natural ecological balance.”  Our attorneys were successful in stopping BLM’s planned removal of wild horses from West Douglas in 2009. BLM’s Jan. 2015 Environmental Assessment, states “that all wild horses within or adjacent to the WDHA meet the statutory definition of excess animals, and therefore, consistent with the authority provided in 16 USC § 1333 (b) (2), the BLM shall immediately remove excess animals from the range.”

Also in question is the BLM’s extrapolated population estimate of 291 wild horses within the WDHA and an additional 74 horses outside the WDHA boundaries. Local residents of the area question the numbers issued by the BLM.  “During 2015 the largest number of wild horses we have seen during a day trip has been 20,” stated Toni Moore. “However, in January 2015 there were over 50 cows being fed hay on public lands within the herd area.”

“We have battled the destruction of this historic herd in the courts for decades,” states Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. “As recently as 2009 the courts ruled against the BLM when District Court Judge Collyer enjoined the BLM from removing any wild horses from the herd,” she continues. “BLM’s historic scapegoating of wild horses is a smoke screen. Rangeland damage is caused by thousands of head of privately-owned livestock, not our publicly owned and theoretically protected wild horses.”

“Mustangs inhabited the West Douglas Herd Area (WDHA) long before Colorado was even a territory, let alone a state,” states Toni Moore, Board Member of The Cloud Foundation (TCF). In their Sept. 1, 1776 diary entry Spanish Explorer-Priests Dominguez and Escalante wrote about meeting Ute Indians riding horses in these valleys: “We set out from San Ramón toward the north, and having traveled three leagues through small valleys with abundant pasturage and thick groves of dwarf oak, we met about 80 Yutas [Utes] all on good horses, most of them being from the ‘rancheria’ to which we were going.”

“Using the BLM’s own statistics, the wild horses are outnumbered by a minimum of 4 to 1 by the welfare cattle allowed to graze on the horse’s range,” states R.T. Fitch, President and co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation. “The concept of the Federal Government destroying this herd to line the pockets of a few of their bedfellows ought to spark outrage in each and every American’s heart and soul. Enough is enough and we are making a stand.”

Director of Field Documentation for WHFF, Carol Walker says “The BLM must not be allowed to zero out this herd simply because it is ‘inconvenient’ to manage, or because it is pandering to cattle ranchers and extraction companies. This would set a very damaging precedent for our few remaining wild horses and burros.”

If allowed to go forward BLM’s roundup would reduce wild horse herds in Colorado to four, and the number of horses to 1150, compared to thousands of wild horses that once roamed the state.

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 Media Contacts:

Paula Todd King

The Cloud Foundation

843-592-0720

paula@thecloudfoundation.org

Carol Walker

Director of Field Documentation

Wild Horse Freedom Federation

303-823-6642

www.LivingImagesCJW.com

www.WildHoofbeats.com

LINKS:

Complaint                 

BLM Plans Annihilation of Colorado’s Historic West Douglas Wild Horse Herd

BLM Press Release

West Douglas Herd Area Final EA

 The Cloud Foundation (TCF) is a Colorado based 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wild horses and burros on our western public lands.

 Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) is a Texas based registered 501(c)(3) non-profit which puts people between America’s wild equids and extinction.

 The Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition (“CWHBC”) is a non-profit Colorado corporation, organized to educate the public and wild horse and burro adopters about wild horse issues and to protect wild horses and burros

 Ms. Toni Moore is a resident of the state of Colorado and is the Secretary/Treasurer of CWHBC and the Special Projects Coordinator of The Cloud Foundation, Inc. (“TCF”).

 Dr. Don Moore is an equine and small-animal veterinarian and has lived in or near the WDHA and PEDHMA most of his life.

 Barb Flores, a resident of Greeley, Colorado is Chair of the Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition. She has photographed and documented Colorado’s wild horse herds for over 20 years.

Wild Horse Advocates to get Court Hearing over Herd

From the pages of HorseTalk

Unified Advocacy Groups Advance Wild Horse Case Against BLM

A federal court rejected a request from the Bureau of Land Management to dismiss or limit a suit brought by wild horse advocates to save Colorado’s West Douglas wild horse herd.

Although the bureau withdrew its 2010 plans to cut the wild horse herd early in 2011, the consortium of wild horse advocacy groups and concerned citizens still want the courts to decide whether the bureau has the legal authority to zero out a herd.

By her ruling, Judge Rosemary Collyer agreed that advocates could proceed with their claim.

The battle over the West Douglas herd is nearly two decades old, and only through the efforts of concerned citizens and organizations have the horses been saved from the BLM’s desire to remove them all from their homelands.

In 2009, opponents won the first case in the United States against the bureau’s practices of eliminating wild horse herds when Judge Collyer set aside the department’s 2008 roundup plans.

In 2010 advocates again sued the bureau and it withdrew its plans to cut the herd.

“The court agreed that we have the right to challenge the decision to zero out the herd, originally made in the 2005 Amendment, despite the fact that the BLM has decided not to perform a round up and removal in 2010,” said Bruce Wagman of Schiff Hardin LLP, legal lead for the groups.

“BLM has been trying to avoid the issue with self-serving tactics, but the court found the BLM’s decision to hold off on this year’s gather ‘does not effect any change to the allegedly improper decision to eliminate the herd as soon as practicable’. This is, of course, exactly what we argued.”

Co-counsel Valerie Stanley said: “For years, BLM has issued cookie-cutter environmental assessments that purport to elicit public opinion on whether wild horses and burros should be removed from the public lands, all the time knowing that they set these eradication decisions in stone years previously.

“BLM has finally been called on their game plan to decimate the nation’s wild horses and burros.”

R.T. Fitch, president of the funding organization, the Wild Horse Freedom Federation, said: “We have made a commitment to not only the wild horses but to the American public, that we are in this battle for the long haul and will stand firm on the letter of the law until the BLM relents and agrees to follow its mandates.”

Hilary Wood, of Front Range Equine Rescue, added: “While the fight to preserve wild horses is far from over, this ‘win’ provides hope that justice can prevail in the courts for America’s mustangs.”

Plaintiffs in this action include, Habitat for Horses, Front Range Equine Rescue, The Cloud Foundation, Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition, Dr Don Moore, Toni Moore and Barbara Flores who are collectively supported by the Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

Another Win in Saving Colorado Wild Horse Herd from BLM Eradication

Press Release from the Wild Horse Freedom Federation and Front Range Equine Rescue

Court Allows Wild Horse Group’s Challenge To BLM’s Zero Out Policy

A federal court rejected the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) request to dismiss or limit a suit brought by a consortium of wild horse advocacy groups and concerned citizens to save the West Douglas wild horse herd.  Although the BLM withdrew their 2010 plans to decimate this northwest Colorado wild horse herd early in 2011, the advocacy groups have remained vigilant in their stance to have the Court decide whether BLM has the legal authority to zero out a herd.  By her ruling, Judge Rosemary Collyer agreed that Plaintiffs could proceed with this claim and stated,

“the Bureau of Land Management’s 2005 West Douglas Herd Amendment to the White River Resource Management Plan violates the Wild Horses Act because it restates the decision by the BLM to eradicate the “West Douglas herd” of wild horses. The 2005 Amendment directed the BLM to eliminate the herd “at the earliest practicable date” and BLM’s recent withdrawal of its decision to gather the herd in 2011 does not effect any change to the allegedly improper decision to eliminate the herd as soon as practicable.”

The battle over the West Douglas herd is nearly two decades old, and only through the efforts of concerned citizens and organizations have the horses been saved from the BLM’s desire to remove them all from their homelands.  In 2009, concerned citizens and organizations won the first case in the United States against BLM’s practices of eliminating wild horse herds when Judge Collyer set aside BLM’s 2008 roundup plans.  In 2010 advocates again sued the BLM and the BLM withdrew its plans to decimate the herd.

“The court agreed that we have the right to challenge the decision to zero out the herd, originally made in the 2005 Amendment, despite the fact that the BLM has decided not to perform a round up and removal in 2010.”  explained Bruce Wagman of Schiff Hardin LLP, legal lead for the groups.  “BLM has been trying to avoid the issue with self-serving tactics, but the court found the BLM’s decision to hold off on this year’s gather ‘does not effect any change to the allegedly improper decision to eliminate the herd as soon as practicable.’  This is of course exactly what we argued.”

Co-counsel Valerie Stanley stated, “For years BLM has issued cookie cutter Environmental Assessments (EA) that purport to elicit public opinion on whether wild horses and burros should be removed from the public lands, all the time knowing that they set these eradication decisions in stone years previously. BLM has finally been called on their game plan to decimate the Nation’s wild horses and burros.”

“We have made a commitment to not only the wild horses but to the American public,” commented R.T. Fitch, President of the funding organization Wild Horse Freedom Federation, “that we are in this battle for the long haul and will stand firm on the letter of the law until the BLM relents and agrees to follow it’s mandates.”

Hilary Wood of Front Range Equine Rescue added, “While the fight to preserve wild horses is far from over, this ‘win’ provides hope that justice can prevail in the courts for America’s mustangs.”

Plaintiffs in this action include, Habitat for Horses, Front Range Equine Rescue, The Cloud Foundation, Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition, Dr. Don Moore, Toni Moore and Barbara Flores who are collectively supported by the Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

 

Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) is a registered, Texas non-profit corporation with 501c3 status pending.  WHFF puts people between America’s wild equids and extinction through targeted litigation against governmental agencies whose documented agendas include the eradication of wild horse and burros from public, federal and state lands.

Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER) is a 501c3 non-profit organization working to prevent the abuse and neglect of horses through rescue and education.