Horse News

Salazar Sued for Contempt of Court in West Douglas Wild Horse Case

Press Release from Habitat for Horses Advisory Council

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BLM’s Plans to Remove Entire West Douglas Wild Horse Herd Challenged


Hope for the West Douglas Herd ~ Photo by Terry Fitch


HOUSTON, (HfHAC) – On September 28th, 2010 plaintiff Colorado Wild Horse & Burro Coalition (CWBC), supported by Habitat for Horses Advisory Council (HfHAC) and Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER), filed a motion to reopen the case and for contempt of court in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the Secretary of the Department of Interior Ken Salazar. On August 5, 2009, Judge Collyer of that court issued an order prohibiting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from engaging in the illegal removal of wild horses in the West Douglas Herd Area in Colorado, rejecting BLM’s claim of discretion to remove wild horses without a determination that they were “excess”; invalidating the BLM’s 2008 Gather Plan to the extent it authorized the removal of wild horses; and finding illegal the BLM’s decision to manage these horses outside of their traditional range. The BLM has now announced they are going to do just what this Court said they could not. As if the Order was never entered, and relying on the very same 2008 Gather Plan and other documents this Court previously ruled inadequate, the BLM has again declared it will undertake the exact same actions that the Court’s Order prohibited.  (Coincidently, the following day, the BLM promptly changed the date of the West Douglas roundup from October 4th, 2010 to October 20th, 2010).

This contempt motion was immediately followed by a new lawsuit the following day (September 29th). The legal team, headed up by Schiff Hardin’s San Francisco office, filed for the Plaintiffs Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition (CWBC), Habitat for Horses (HfH), Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER), The Cloud Foundation (TCF), Barbara Flores, Toni Moore and Dr. Don Moore collectively against Ken Salazar, Robert Abbey and Kent Walter over the same proposed West Douglas Wild Horse roundup. Again, this additional complaint was supported by HfHAC and FRER, and is an effort to stop the unnecessary, illegal and inhumane treatment of the wild and free horses of Colorado.

R.T. Fitch, volunteer Executive Director of the co-funding organization Habitat for Horses Advisory Council said, “The BLM has stated its intention to completely wipe out the West Douglas herd as far back as 1980; last year this very court stopped that process stating that the BLM needs to prove that these horses are over populated and excess. 86 horses on 123,387 acres of public land does not meet that test. The BLM’s arrogant plan to totally destroy this herd is in clear contempt of this court’s order.”

The complaint brings to bear four (4) extensive and detailed counts against all of the defendants.

1.)     Violations of the Wild Horse Act

2.)     Violations of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

3.)     Violations  of the Information Quality Act (IQA)

4.)     Violations of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA)

Overall the 27 page complaint clearly lays out the details of the BLM’s total disregard for lawfully protecting not only the habitat of the wild horses but also the very lives of the horses that they are tasked, by law, to defend. Outdated data, incorrect numbers and lack of concrete science currently permeate the BLM’s decision process used to totally remove wild horse herds from their designated public lands.

When Jerry Finch, founder and President of HfH (not to be confused with HfHAC) was asked his thoughts on this legal effort he responded;

“Americans have long watched the destruction of our wild horses by the BLM and have complained time and time again. Our elected leaders have turned their backs on us and simply walked away, ignoring our pleas. Sadly, this seems to be the only way to get their attention.”

“It’s time to look at the big picture of what is going on here.” stated Vicki Tobin,Equine Welfare Alliance Vice President of the (EWA) “HfHAC has been hard at work to do just that and I am proud to be affiliated not only with them but all of the other fine organizations represented in this case.”

“We have only just hit the starter button on this machine,” added R.T. Fitch, “We are not going away.”

Habitat for Horses Advisory Council is a registered non-profit 501c4 corporation comprised of a volunteer seated council whose singular mission is to protect and ensure fair representation of American Horses and Burros in commercial, legislative and judicial venues. HfHAC is the “Legal voice for the American equine.”

46 replies »

  1. I think Slaughterczar and Abbey should be sued with a monetary amount included to correct the environmental damage they are causing and the costs associated with caring for the sterilized animals…can anyone say Tucker Act?


    • Go for the throat! I am SO pleased to read this, cannot tell you how this West Douglas herd has weighed on my mind (and East Douglas as well) since they made their ARROGANT announcement they would zero out the herd a year after being ordered NOT to last year.

      I wrote a scathing letter to Kent E Walter, Field Manager on this not long ago and pointed out the fact that in their EA they idiotically justify zeroing out the West herd as it is “unstable” genetically due to the low number of 85 horses (where a minimum of 200 are required for genetic viability – yes, this was actually in the EA!). And then, out of the other side of their mouths, they claim they need to cull the East herd down to just 125 for a healthy herd. Apparently no minimum of 200 is required for the East herd. My God, can anyone say HYPOCRITE? Or more like CONNIVING HORSE HATERS? And then next year, look how convenient for them to claim that now the EAST Douglas herd has less than 200, so it needs to be zeroed out too, as if citizens are stupid enough to fall for this cr@p. It is so maddening, this ongoing war they are waging.

      I also pointed out another hypocrisy of their FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact, which means just what it sounds like it means – no impact from their plan to remove all the horses). No horse loving naturalist, artist, photographer, writer will ever be able to go the BARREN West Douglas herd area and obtain inspiration or subjects for their creative works once the horses are gone. No group loses out except for these people. The hunters, hikers, ORVers, fishermen and cattle ranchers all retain their rights. The rest of us LOSE EVERYTHING. This is a SIGNIFICANT IMPACT to me and many others!

      Another really disgusting tactic they pulled in this EA included trying to stereotype the Douglas horses as “typical of American riding breeds”. In other words, they wanted to portray them to the public as nothing really special, certainly a way of trying to make it more acceptable to the public for them to just get rid of them. You know, the old “horses are a dime a dozen” line so even though these are wild animals, the result of hundreds of years of natural selection, well, they are not special at all, just like the horses down at the local stable. Sickening.

      I am so disgusted with these cretins in the BLM. They will stop at nothing, even doing such transparent attacks as these to try to excuse their apparent plan to get rid of all wild horses. Burying it in reams of paper, probably hoping no one will see it. Well, WE DO SEE IT!

      Go for the jugular, guys. I hope and pray these arrows (and all arrows from all the lawsuits) will hit some vital organs in the ugly monster called the BLM.


      • Kathleen you are a true Warrior for our Wild Horses..Reading your comment was an inspiration. I to Pray some arrows hit them where it counts…I have been wondering if the Book “How to Sabotage a Deer Hunt” could be called “How to Sabotage a Wild Horse Round Up”…It is perfectly legal with Deer..Why not Horses…


  2. RT I know I have limited funds but I am now trying every month to help a few rescues/lawsuits with a few dollars. I would love to have a link where I can donate 10 or 15 dollars next week.

    Can you help me? Thanks!



    1. Nullification of that portion of the WFHBA that provides protection to the wild ones as principle users of their (traditional) lands as known in 1971

    2. Nullification of that portion of FLPMA that exempts certain lands from any “multiple use and/or sustainability of yield” requirements,..specificallyexemption lands that were specially designated for a certain use previous to 1976 – which would include any known traditional wild horse (and burro) lands: hence, there is no MANDATORY multi-use or sustainibility of yield factors to consider in making or revising land use plans where wild horse (and burro) lands are involved (other uses can be permitted (discretionary) so long as the wild ones have principle use)

    3. Nullification of 202 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 which requires that ALL resources managed upon public lands have a written resource management plan of its own. This is something that was NEVER done by the BLM in laying out its overall WFH&B management plans, particularly on a herd-by-herd management area. The only time the wild ones are mentioned in any land use management plans is when it is a plan for their removal. There has NEVER been issued a RMP specifically for the managment of our National Herds on the whole, as required by this section of FLMPA…

    4. Nullification of Sec. ____of FLMPA which requires that Congress be notified of any change in land use management plans that involve ______amount of acres or more. This is because the BLM (admitted) to at least one advocate, that they never considered the wild horses and burros as a “resource.” Dont you think it is time that they do?


  4. Awesome news. Way to go guys.Sue them and lets all save our native american heritage, the western icon the wild mustangs and burros.Tis great news.Go get em.Maybe if everybody starts filing lawsuits The crooked politicians and sleazy salazar’s cronies will be forced to listen to the american publics outcries.”SAVE OUR WILD MUSTANGS & BURROS NOW”????.Stop the killer Cattoors and the BLM gatherings.Keep up the great work.Never give up.Until all american horses are safe. Kathleen


  5. Good Luck! Go get’m!! However if this Lawsuit does NOT stick and still NO JUSTICE……we must consider TOUGHER ACTION! Whatever it takes to SAVE OUR CHERISHED MUSTANGS & BURROS!!


  6. Somehow I know this will be one of the lawsuits that will work !!!!!! Saving Our Cherished Symbols of Freedom The Wild Mustang has suffered at the hands of the ROGUE BLM for far too long, we must stop them and hold the BLM accountable for all their needless ASSAULTS on the Mustang………….They have with out a doubt violated many many LAWS, and need to be prosecuted for all of them and one of them is outrageous Murders of several WILD MUSTANGS and foals >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>..Along with the Criminal Catoors who already have been charged for the Murders of Mustangs, Their reign of assaults and terrror to the Mustang must be stopped……………


  7. We need to get the media more involved. A lot of my friends knew nothing about horse slaughter and the continued assault on our mustangs. Until they met my mustangs, people weren’t aware that you could adopt a wild horse. Wish that I could be more help. My blood is boiling at this point due to all this government cover-up. Vote the bums out in November.


  8. Real HOPE! Thank you everyone!!!

    Get a clue President Obama, order an immediate moratorium on these deadly and needless, unlawful roundups of America’s horses!!!


  9. Salaczar is being sued by so many people from so many different directions I’m surprised he’s stuck (or been allowed to stick) around this long. Once he does hang it up, it ‘ll be all seats on Boards of Directors and lobbying for special interest groups that will undoubtedly be vying for his brand of “talent”.

    Fear not, Kenny! No unemployment line for an “insider” like you. That’s for the rest of us. The ones who believe in hard work, justice, and ethics.


  10. Karen W right –this needs to be a top headliner in all the news media.

    Wonderful news for our horses and burros in West Douglas–hang in there, warriors. Hang in there, wild ones. Home on the Range– make it happen!

    CJ would you please post the link to that info– as you did on 9/06/10– most interesting reading–and we need to make use of it!


  11. WOOOT! WOOOT! I’m sorry! I have absolutely nothing factual or remotly intelligent to say!
    I’m just SOOOO FLIPPIN’ HAPPY right now!
    This is the BEST news EVER… We so needed this right now!
    I can say in this instance that I have never been so proud to be from Colorado…
    To ALL of you involved in this historical WIN AND to each and every one of ‘us’ that fights day in and day out for our Wild One’s… THANK YOU!
    This is one HUGE battle! Let’s keep up the momentum … One HMA after the next if that’s how we have to save our Mustangs & Burros!
    Rock on with your bad selves!
    Happy dancing! :O)


  12. Awesome comments by all… final thought is this ‘blm’ appears to be a gov’t agency that is ‘continually’ looking for work, guess they have to or the (funds) TAX payers money, go elsewhere. They will say ‘anything’ & do almost ‘anything’…no make that will do anything. Is it because they have got away with it for so long they truly believe no-one can bring them down??? hahaha well things are about to change!!
    Seems they have to appear to be ‘cleaning things up’ & in their sick,distorted thinking, literally MAKE UP as they go????? Does nobody in that Gov’t see this joke of an agency – that is going to blow-up in their faces??
    GREAT work to YOU all…HOPE may be on the way – as well as more lawsuits.
    YES…more MEDIA coverage!!!


  13. No peace till there is justice, they better look out I think Americans are mad and just ramping up now and we will not stop till we have justice.


  14. Wild Horses need our Voices, is a Song written by Bill Wakefield and performed by Bill Wakefield and the Gray Beard Bandit Band, also a video that goes with the song By Ms. Vivian Grant of tuesdays horse both are awesome !!!! if you would like to hear and see it go to tuesdayshorse (internationalfund4horses) you can hear it there it is AWESOME, you can also purchase the Song there………………to help the Wild Mustang………………………. you may want to go to youtube, type in horses need our voices and see and hear them both together……


  15. The BLM are lying corrupt criminals and need to be in prisoned for murdering Americas Wild Horses and destroying our public lands, water , soil, wildlife, native plants and ripping off American tax payer for up to 1 BILLION dollars per year.


  16. R.T., your quote “We have only just hit the starter button on this machine, we are not going away.” was music to my ears! Corruption must be followed up with truth and we all know that the truth, compassion and good old common sense is on our side. Eventually, freedom for our horses must prevail. Thank you and to the many others that are fighting for their freedom.


  17. in response to RT, Thats right the BLM aint seen nothing yet !!! We are here for the Wild Mustangs Our symbols of Freedom , Our Icons……………..We are strong and getting stronger ……………………….The Wild Mustangs Belong to The American People and thats how its going to stay, THEY BELONG FREE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> All here need to keep calling Presidents comment line Imploring him to demand a complete moratorium for The Wild Mustangs, also to restore the R.O.A.M Act of 1971 immediately 202-456-1111 call as many times as you can…………. Be Relentless , repetition works ……………………………


  18. I know this is an emotional issue, but lets get some facts straight here…The first fallacy is that killer horses are bringing $1.00 a pound…Try $0.15 (fifteen CENTS a pound).

    The second lie (which has been propagated since 1971, is that these horses are mustangs, and descendants of the Spanish Barbs. A few may be, but the majority are NOT. The majority happen to be descendants of horse stolen from ranchers (by BLM) when the wild horse and burro act became law. At the time this law was passed, many ranchers (some raising ONLY horses) would not brand their horses until they were a year old. I knew one man who ran two hundred brood mares like this our of Virginia City, Nevada. He lost both his yearling foal crop and a fresh weaned foal crop (nearly 400 horses) because of this.

    If you really want to help these horses start doing DNA tests on these horses to prove that BLM is gathering horses that are NOT mustangs.


  19. In reply to rekinford,….first of all it matters not a whit to me what you or anybody else thinks our American Wild Free-roaming Horses & Burros may or may not be,…..Mustangs, Cayuses, Spanish decent or not,..Native or Not. The mere fact that we have had un-owned free-roaming equines on our public lands for at least as long as my great great grand-pappy can remember is enough to entitle them to stay right there where they belong—free-roaming the vast stretches of our public lands that they have always roamed upon. Un-owned free-roaming equines by anyother name are still wild, untouched in most cases by the hand of man. If you want to split hairs and pic nits over semantics,….well you jus go right ahed ifin it makes you feel smart(er). The FACTS are the Wild, Free-roaming equines are a part of our National and Cultural Heritage. Congress recognized this at behest OF THE PEOPLE back in 1971 when THE PEOPLE still had a voice. I think now, after so many years of fightin and yellin and being ignored, WE THE PEOPLE are finally beginning to get our voice back, and that FACT is scaring the hell out of people like you,….and frankly, I am LOVIN EVERY MINUTE of it….its about gul dern time!


  20. Cj,
    First a disclaimer…I do NOT own a ranch. I have just been a career cowboy/buckaroo working on ranches for nearly 40 years.
    I also love seeing horses running free as much as anyone else (A lot of what I know about horse behavior was learned trailing herds of horses and just observing them)..The simple FACT is that this whole situation goes a lot deeper than just the horses.
    “WE THE PEOPLE” have been without a voice for a long time. In fact, BLM land, National Parks, National Monuments, and National Forest ate ALL ILLEGAL under the CONSTITUTION!
    Below is copy/pasted DIRECTLY from the CONSTITUTION (section eight, powers of Congress)

    “To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;”

    TENS OF THOUSANDS horses OWNED by ranchers were STOLEN by the federal government in 1971 under the guise of “at the behest of the people.” This is not “splitting hairs” as you put it. It was out and out THEFT of livestock the ranchers were PAYING the government to have on land that (according to the Constitution) the government was (and is) controlling ILLEGALLY.

    Just as there is no real just way to compensate Indian tribes or African Americans for injustices in the past, there is no real way to compensate the ranchers for the ILLEGAL taking of their horses. But we need to direct our efforts in a more logical and practical manner, and I’m not just talking about the horse/land situation.

    Anytime the federal government can use a fringe group to stir up emotional support they (and the media) can spin into a “reason” to control a situation they will. There are already MILLIONS of acres which have not only been taken out of production, but which you can’t pick up an arrowhead, fish, hunt or even get off the maintained trails without being fined. Make enough waves with the horses and this area will be next.

    No big deal? Every time this happens we are getting closer to not being able to feed ourselves. That Big Mac you ate for lunch didn’t come out of a factory, it came from a cow that very possibly was wandering around with the horses being gathered.

    If you are going to use your voice, why not use it to protest our jobs going to foreign countries? Why not use it to protest the fact that the minimum wage for a person coming here legally from Mexico is $2.25 an hour MORE than it is for a U.S CITIZEN? Why not use your voice to protest the UNCONSTITUTIONAL health care law?

    It is sad that some of these horses may be going to slaughter. However issues like this are used by the government to get people to take their eye off the ball of the more important issues.


    • THANKS FOR THE INFO…ANNA USA 1951 “Save the Mustangs!

      ps ya ever hear of the Virginia Range Estray Adotption program

      “this is where the us gov “wrangles america’s equines up;

      for no gosh good reason ! thnx!


    • seriously, only 1% of our beef comes from public lands, down from 3%, and public lands grazing allotments have “increased” not decreased, most of those leases are to huge conglomerate corporations not the small rancher trying to make a go of you are arguing for the corporations..whereas most of the cattle raised in the US are on private lands..lands much more fruiful to cattle grazing..lush pastures well manage by private citizens..and yes the big macs are being made out of argentina cattle because they are cheaper to raise what point are you trying to make..wild horses are not destroying the cattle industry or lowering the wages or causing jobs to be shipped over seas, and they are not responsable for your flat tire


  21. Odd you should bring this up…Nevada state law requires you to fence livestock out if you don’t want them…Also, this is the same area where my freind lost his horses…


  22. Sandra,
    How did my friend lose his horses? I stated that in my first post, but I will do it again, hopefully with a better explanation. I need to remember most people on lists like this are not familiar with Nevada.
    Then this Wild Horse act passed, very few people were starting horses as two year olds. The normal way things were done in much of the west was not to do anything with them until they are a year old. The mares weaned their colts on their own. Once a year they would gather the mare band and brand the fillies. Then they would gather the bands of young studs and brand them.

    The moment the Wild Horse Act Passed, a ban was placed on gathering any unbranded horses (other than sucking foals).

    As this passed just after most foals were weaned, he could not gather either his yearlings, or freshly weaned horses. At the time he was running 200 head of broodmares (and paying the government lease on the ground). As the law prevented him from gathering his unbranded horses, he lost nearly 400 head of horses the instant the law passed. (In reality he did not lose them, the government STOLE them).

    This basically happened to every rancher running cattle on federal land because most ranchers were raising their own horses. The reality is, that the majority of the “mustangs” in Nevada are the progeny of these horses the federal government stole under the guise of the Wild Horse and Burro the wild horse act. The horses in the Virginia City area go back to my friend’s horses. He was particularly fond of Leo, so a lot of his horses traced back to him. If you get a chance to adopt one of these horses, it will make you a great ride.

    Also, the biggest part of Nevada is open range. This means there are few (if any) fences. This means if you want to keep any livestock (wild horses included) off of your property, YOU have to fence them OUT. In other words, if you want to keep the neighbor’s cattle (or wild horses) off of your property, it is your responsibility to build a fence to keep them out.

    People go to Nevada looking to get out of the rat race of California. They go to a sub-development, fall in love with the open country and of course the wild horses.

    Then they discover that the wild horses eat their lawn, roses, and posies and start moaning and groaning to get them removed. When they try to run them out of their yard and get chased by a stud or protective mare (Or little FooFoo chases the horses and gets kicked in the head) they start whining about how dangerous the horses are. If it were up to me I’d fence the people out and keep the horses but the government won’t go for that, and instead gathers the horses.

    The point to all of this is that the majority of these horses are the progeny of horses that were literally stolen from ranchers. Also, how many people in this group are qualified to rate the carrying capacity of range land? Unless you have been on these ranges firsthand, AND you are qualified to assess range conditions and carrying capacity, you don’t have a clue as whether or not these gathers are necessary to preserve both the horses and the range.

    Unless you happen to have people QUALIFIED to assess the range conditions in the areas being gathered, you have not a clue as to what you are protesting about. Rather than going in all emotionally charged telling BLM what they are doing wrong, hire a person, or a TEAM of people QUALIFIED to asses the range and THEN go after them.

    Personally, I HAVE seen horses starving to death because of drought and over population. Given the choice of watching them die from lack of food and water, or thinning the herds and giving some of the others at least a chance of life as a domesticated horse, I’ll take the later every time. Especially considering the devastation it does environmentally through erosion, and causing other species (deer, elk, antelope…) to die as well.

    As for your other misinformation…Argentina is exporting very little beef, and are in fact beginning to IMPORT beef because they are in a drought and losing cattle. They don’t have enough beef to feed their own country.

    As far as your numbers on BLM land, it is closer to 20% (down 5% from several years ago) and this does not include the National Forest Grazing Leases. Most of these leases are to small ranchers with under 1,000 cows.

    According to the Constitution, ALL of the BLM, National Forest, National Park, and National Monument lands are UNCONSTITUTIONAL. According to the Constitution, under the powers of Congress, The United States Government is only allowed to own and area “Ten Miles Square” (Only 6,400 acres) in any state, for very explicit purposes. Not only arerazing, recreation, etc. not on that list. The federal government claims it owns the following percentages of states:Arizona 45%, Idaho 61%, Nevada 79%, Utah 60% New Mexico 33%, and Montana 30%
    That is WAY over 6,400 acres per state.

    You state that “lands much more fruitful to cattle grazing..lush pastures well manage by private citizens”
    Between property taxes and zoning laws and urban sprawl,the areas you are talking about are getting to be non existent. California alone has had millions of acres of farming an grazing land lost to urban sprawl and zoning restrictions.

    The average “rancher” owns less than 40 cows, and does it for extra money on the side. IF you have your land paid off, it takes roughly 150 cows for a family of four to make a living without having a second job. Until you get west of the Mississippi River, there are very few properties large enough for a person to actually make a living off of cattle.Between property taxes and inheritance taxes, many people are forced to sell their ranches when they inherit one.

    Jeff Bezos (owner of Amazon) bought up over a million acres and took it out of production. Other rich people are buying up ranches to use either for their own recreation, or to lease out hunting rights which is taking more land out of production.

    This means that, yes, the supply of beef in this country IS in jeopardy. All of our food supply is in jeopardy. Not only are we having nearly everything everything we USED to produce and export being imported from China, food is starting to come from there as well. Farm raised fish and shrimp are coming in from China, as well as produce such as garlic and onions.

    In essence, KNOW the range conditions before you protest.


  23. I am withCJ , i agree with you it dont matter what kind of Mustang it is , it only matters that they get there return to freedom…. were they belong , where Americans want them to be……..


    • First they are NOT mustangs…The Majority are the progeny of horses STOLEN by the federal government.

      Second, MOST Americans are no more aware of these wild horses than they are of people like myself who make a living working cattle for other people. (Actually most Americans are ignorant as to where their food comes from, or how it is raised or processed)

      Third unless you have the training to assess range conditions you have no idea of whether or not the numbers need to be reduced in order to keep the range (and remaining horses) healthy.


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