Top U.S. Law Firm Threatens Suit over BLM Wild Horse Roundup in California

The Bureau of Land Management in the United St...

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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 at

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.

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33 comments on “Top U.S. Law Firm Threatens Suit over BLM Wild Horse Roundup in California

  1. If every tiny detail isn’t anticipated, accounted for and in place, the fed’s circling vultures will come down to feed. Dot the “i”s, cross the “t”s, and GO GET ‘EM!


  2. NOW is the time to do it. Also, there should be a class action suit against the stock contractors. The have been party to and responsible for irreparable harm to wild herds which belong to the people of the United States.


  3. Is there any way we can get IDA or Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney to file against the US Forest Service in conjunction with the suit against the BLM? Because while we’re busy keepin’ all eyes on the Bureau & their subversion of the Wild Horse & Burro Act, the USFS gets to ‘remove’ ‘ferals’ at any time they see fit. Wild Equines under the purview of the Department of Agriculture, are NOT subject to the same constraints as the Bureau for ‘disposal of excess equines’.

    Way past time to rein in ALL these muthers.


  4. “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.”

    So, the wild horses are now even lower on the totem pole than the mule deer hunters needs? Now I’ve heard everything.

    And this lawyer best get his act together this time.


  5. Thank you IDA! The updated BLM schedule I saw showed BLM rounding up 2301 horses and removing 2301 horses. Burros showed 301 burros to be rounded up and 301 burros to be removed, which means the BLM plan on zeroing out the Twin Peaks HMAs. These roundups have to be stopped. I think an inventory of the horses in long term facilities needs to be taken because of so many blm mustangs being transported to Mexico in Shipping crates with the tops of the crates being removed. Because these crates are solid all the way around no one can see what is being shipped. I am willing to bet that the long term holding facilities do not have 35,000 horses in them because they are being shipped to Mexico and Canada. I hope these attorneys are not associated with HSUS because of what happened in the lawsuit that was filed in November of 2009.Thank you IDA for filing this law suit. Please have herd watch and others watch over these herds because if no one is watching them BLM will do another sneeky roundup with no warning. Thank you.


  6. Which mainstream news network is going to pick this up as a story? They are all gutless wonders to me. CNN and Anderson Cooper, for example, have had a chance for years to turn this into an ongoing story in their program formats, and connect it to national interest. “USDI doesn’t need any help creating mayhem in America’s backyard, it is killing America’s wild horses all by itself….”

    As far as I can see, no national mainstream news editor or anchor has the cajones to take this story on, and put the pictures and the principals on camera in front of the American public. It’s all numbers to them, just like it is to the BLM. Haiti’s big, the Gulf is big,(and they are), etc.

    Well, this is big too. And it’s connected. And it would have the numbers too. What would Anderson Cooper say if he was denied access to a roundup or holding facility? Or interviews? What would he find out if he got them?

    It’s a no brainer, and to me, a crime as well. Especially when ex-BLMers are willing to go public, great journalists like those who bring us this story, and others like George Knapp show how its done.

    But as far as I can tell, with the national news, it’s —

    Good make-up. Plenty of HD. No cajones.


    • start tieing the WH&B division to the Minerals dept..draw the comparisons…MSM has very few investigative reporters anymore..there are some good to excellent articles up on Mother Jones…their investigative people are hot on the trail of the drilling and background…make the connection to the wild horse roundups..begun as a clear the path to drilling oil wells for cheney, now as a clear the path to clean energy for Salazar.


  7. I honestly believe the law firm needs to hire Cindy MacDonald.

    I don’t think Buchannan, Ingersoll and Rooney did a very good job last time out. The current situation in the Gulf is a unique and timely example of how screwed up DOI really is and an opportunity not to be lost or mishandled. I also don’t believe IDA (but god bless ’em for trying) is the best or final voice on everything wild equine. Yes, I realize something is better than nothing and lawsuits are expensive.

    Cindy knows her stuff and maybe if BIR utilzed her knowledge (with some of the other experts) and got rid of their parochial mindsets (we know best approach), the equines might get a break. But who knows…maybe they did consult Ms. MacDonald.

    Does anyone know if the law firm/IDA ever appealled the dismissal of injunction or the final ruling?

    That GEN McCrystal thing is really screwing up the Gulf and case focus for our wild ones!


  8. This firm should be filing another injuction on the calicos-using the material Cindy, Craig and others have to stop the movement and adoptions of the calico horses until 600 horses are found..they have violated their own standards by taking MORE than the excess horses that were claimed. Horses have already been moved across state lines for adoptions.


  9. John Roberts/CNN just did a piece on the dangers of land-based drilling. Very sick people, sick animals (dogs, cats, horses, and even the precious CATTLE losing their hair and presenting with other illnesses). We’re all in Erin Brockovitch country to one degree or another.

    Thanks to John D. Rockefeller and his co-conspirators (yes, it was a conspiracy), our railroads were gutted and their rights-of-way sold or given away, electric trolleys replaced by polluting buses, and so much more. “See the USA in your Chevrolet!”, or your 18-wheeler, thanks to the Interstate Highway System. A chicken in every pot, and a car (make that 2, 3, 4 or more) in every driveway.

    We’re at the bottom of a MAJOR hole, but our government refuses to stop digging. We CAN have clean, reneweable energy. If we’d started during the oil crisis in the Carter administration, even setting nuclear power aside, we’d be halfway home by now. If corporations have to be forced to mitigate impacts to people, animals, and land – SO BE IT! Expensive, inconvenient? TOUGH!

    And this time, the Revolution WILL be televised!


  10. I personally think the equine exterminators can’t be trusted, lie and continually mislead advocates/the public… CONTINUALLY.

    Intrested equine advocates need to file those law suits right now! No waiting, no negotiating because all they will do is delay us and start scooping up, running to death, watching them die without proper shelter/food/medical care and sterilizing while litigants threaten.

    We are way past the threatening stage. Interesting how when old Slaughterczar/Obang’em want a moratorium against big oil, they can’t get them; when we want one, they and the courts blow us off while equines are dying for mineral extractors and livestockers….gee, that sounds fair.


  11. More power to them!! I hope & pray they win, for the horse’s sakes. The government should pay for all the death, damage & destruction they’ve caused to these beautiful wild mustangs & burros!! America needs to push to have these animals classified as NATIVE species, or, at the very least, NATIVE heritage species….maybe(??), then they would get the protection they deserve!!


  12. YESssssssss Valerie!!!! Go get ’em or ELSE these magnificent creatures will dissapear, like the poor Indians… :- ((((((


  13. Valerie, Congress Unanimously declared our wild ones “wild free roaming horses and burros” and that they have THAT status is enough for them to be Protected Species and not to be mishandled as they have been. We must continue to cut through the bias and the prejudice and maintain the Law we do have. It was meant to protect and preserve. mar


    • Thanks Marilyn, However the “Law” is NOT working, the BLM blatantly breaks it everytime they round the wild horses up, & force them to live in holding pens!! Yes, the wild free roaming horse & burro act from 1971, WAS intended to protect these animals, & preserve them, but the government seems to think they are above the law. We need to keep the pressure on & intensify it, until they get our message, & know that we mean business. I wish I could do more than just type away on this keyboard back & forth.We have to do more than just maintain the law we do have, it’s NOT good enough, or strong enough, to really protect & preserve these magnificent animals! Especially, given the present economic situation, where there are fewer people able to adopt the rounded up mustangs, they should be released back to their home ranges.Anyway, thanks for listening, I’ll stop ranting now.


      • We need intervention and that will still depend upon the law as it stands. If we can get ROAM passed or the amendments sacked we might have a good change to get it right. But these things are long shots that take time. Call for a moratorium on all roundups and demand an independent census be done in each state. Get back to science and stop BLM from messing with our wild herds… mar


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