Legal Push Planned to Save 2,000 Wild Horses and Burros
SACREMENTO – Attorney Stuart Gross of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy on behalf of In Defense of Animals et al., will file an emergency stay Friday morning (August 6) to prevent next Monday’s (August 9) scheduled helicopter roundup of over 2,000 of the last wild horses and 200 burros in California from the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area north of Susanville. This afternoon Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. denied Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction.
Gross will present a letter from 54 members of Congress to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar that demands a halt to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wild horse roundups and recommends reform of “what seems to be a deeply flawed policy. . .” Representatives Barbara Lee, George Miller, Lynn Woolsey, and Mike Honda are among the members of the California Congressional delegation who signed the letter on July 30, expressing concern over the BLM’s recent helicopter roundup of 1,224 Nevada mustangs, which caused the deaths of 34 of these iconic animals, including at least eight foals.
Gross will argue that the proposed roundup, conducted in the heat of summer, will unnecessarily subject many old, sick, lame and vulnerable young wild horses to potential injury and death. He contends that the BLM’s current policy of mass roundups, removals and stockpiling of horses is unnecessary and violates the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. An emergency stay is necessary to prevent harm to the horses until the lawsuit is resolved.
The lawsuit was filed July 16 on behalf of 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; Linda Hay, a local resident who has visited and enjoyed the Twin Peaks horses for the past thirty years; and In Defense of Animals, a Bay Area-based animal protection organization.
Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, with offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C., is joined as counsel in the lawsuit by the national law firm of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney and San Francisco Bay Area-based environmental attorney Rachel Fazio.
“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 Gross. “This emergency stay 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.”
Gross noted that BLM, while deeming wild horses and burros overpopulated, authorizes four to seven times more privately-owned sheep and cattle to graze the nearly 800,000-acre, federally protected Herd Management Area.
“The BLM now warehouses more wild horses in government holding facilities than are left on the Western range. The vast majority of the captured Twin Peaks horses will join the 38,000 mustangs already stockpiled in zoo-like conditions,” 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 fulfilling its obligation to establish the need for the action,” said environmental attorney Rachel Fazio. “This circumvention of these legal requirements and the unfounded determination that 2,000 Twin Peaks wild horses and burros are ‘excess’ is a cornerstone of this legal action and emergency stay.”
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.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Lawsuit seeks to stop California muster (horsetalk.co.nz)
- Opposition Grows for California Roundup of 2,500 Wild Mustangs and Burros (ppjg.wordpress.com)
- BLM’s Bob Abbey Dances with the Truth and Drops the Ball AGAIN (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- Wild horses symbolize US freedom (thecloudfoundation.wordpress.com)