Horse News

Federal Lawsuit Filed to Stop BLM Plan to Sterilize Wyoming Wild Horse Herds

Information from the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign

Environmental & Wild Horse Organizations Seek to Block Interior Dept. from Castrating Wild Stallions and Destroying Free Roaming Herds

Wyoming Wild Horses at Rick ~ photo courtesy of Carol Walker

Washington, DC (July 25, 2011). . . Western Watersheds Project, a leading environmental organization and the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), a national coalition, today filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that seeks to block the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from implementing an unprecedented plan that initiates the destruction of two wild horse populations in southwestern Wyoming.

At issue is the BLM’s decision to convert federally-protected wild horse populations in the one-million-acre White Mountain and Little Colorado Herd Management Areas (HMAs) to “minimally-reproducing” herds by removing 90 percent of the wild horse population and returning only castrated stallions to the range. The White Mountain/Little Colorado roundup is scheduled to begin in mid-August 2011.

The lawsuit, filed by the Washington, DC-based public interest law firm Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal. Other plaintiffs include Donna and Greg Duckworth, a local Green River, Wyoming couple who enjoy wild horse viewing in the HMAs, and Carol Walker, a well-known wildlife photographer who has photographed the wild horses in this region for many years.

The complaint alleges that the action “will irreparably disrupt and destroy the social organization, natural wild and free-roaming behavior and viability of these herds,” in violation of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFRHBA). In addition, the agency’s failure to “solicit public comment or . . . analyze or explain the environmental consequences of its decision” flagrantly violates the National Environmental Policy Act, the complaint charges.

On June 14, the BLM blindsided the public with the announcement that it would remove 100 percent of the horses living in the Little Colorado and White Mountain HMAs and return a small number of sterilized horses – castrating the males and performing uncommon and life-threatening surgical spaying on the females. One week later, the BLM backed off that plan, and later announced that it would proceed with the currently proposed action to remove 90 percent of the estimated 800 horses living in the area and return 177 gelded stallions to the range.

“This Wyoming action makes clear the BLM’s design to manage America’s wild horses to extinction – by turning healthy wild free-roaming herds into dysfunctional, non-viable populations that will die out over time,” said Suzanne Roy, AWHPC campaign director. “Since Congress unanimously passed the Act 40 years ago, the BLM has systematically take away more than one-third of federally-designated habitat for wild horses and burros, and reduced population numbers to below 1970’s levels when Congress determined that the mustangs were ‘fast disappearing’ from the West and needed federal protection.”

According to AWHPC, the BLM is rounding up wild mustangs en masse from the West in service to the livestock industry, which enjoys taxpayer-subsidized grazing on public lands. Western Watersheds Project maintains that “Public lands ranching is the most widespread commercial use of public lands in the United States. Ranching is one of the primary causes of native species endangerment in the American West; it is also the most significant cause of non-point source water pollution and desertification.”

In the White Mountain and Little Colorado HMAs, the BLM claims that no more than 400 wild horses can live on one million acres of public lands, yet it authorizes ten times that number of cattle and sheep to range on those same lands, according to AWHPC.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. Supported by a coalition of over 40 organizations, its grassroots campaign seeks:
* A suspension of roundups in all but verifiable emergency situations while the entire BLM wild horse program undergoes objective and scientific review; * Higher Appropriate Management Levels (AML) for wild horses on those rangelands designated for them;
* Implementation of in-the-wild management, which would keep wild horses on the range and save taxpayers millions annually by avoiding the mass removal and stockpiling wild horses in government holding facilities.

A copy of the complaint is available upon request. Photographs of the White Mountain and Little Colorado wild horses can be found here.

36 replies »

  1. WWP has been winning many cases against BLM so it’s good news it has joined the fight to save our wild horses. Hope and pray this works.


  2. I am surprised to see WWP filing. I thought that in the past they hated the wild ones. But I’m glad to see them now. We need someone to step in here and save the last of our precious horses. My heart was filled with sadness this morning when I thought of the wild horses that have been rounded up over the weekend and in the past, to think that for the rest of their lives they will be standing around in dirt paddocks, eating man grown grass and just waiting for death. Sad, very sad.


    • They don’t hate wild horses. They just have not joined the fight until now. Bless them. The horses really need their expertise in these cases.


      • Well I am very glad to see them join the fight and now I will also look into their org and give them whatever help I can. Thank you savewildhorses for clearing up my misconception about them. This is the cooperation we need between groups.


    • Western Watersheds lost a small herd of horses because they allowed them to stay on a cattle allotment. BLM lost a case to them, one of many, then went after these horses. WWP was allowing their allotment to recover from cattle occupancy, I believe. They were challenged by BLM for having an allotment with no cattle on it. From all I heard they really enjoyed having those horses on it!


      • Mar,

        Would that be the “Greenfire Preserve” equines? There were supposedly only a handful of equines (less than 30-50) in this preserve and it had something to do with the grass and waters restoration project on the Packard Ranch (of Hewlitt-Packard fame) and their adjoining leases. BLM got po’d because they were not going to graze livestock and were going to retire those grazing permits/leases…..then they came and took most of the wild equines. Some kind of a payback move by BLM….or something to that affect.

        WWP has some info here:


  3. Lynn, WWP has never been against our wild horses. The Sierra Club and the Audubon Society are as well as some hunting organizations.


  4. There were NO WILD HORSES on the Scenic Horse Loop in Rock Springs on Fri and Sat.

    I made two full loops on Fri–some 8 hrs of driving (each 24 mile loop is about 4 hrs driving in my little car). Saw horse poop that might have been Thurs night but NOTHING fresh.

    No dust kicked up by running horses–nada.

    Alarm bells in my head have been ringing since Fri.


    • Could it be that they pre-rounded these horses in WY? Cattoor is the contractor and he is not scheduled anywhere else right now and could have done this. Is there any rule that says that the horses can’t be pre-rounded (in EA or SOP)? Not that I know of. It has been suspected that they did this at Twin Peaks last year also. The TP HMA is divided by many many fences which would have to be dropped in order to collect the animals and so it would not be profitable to wait until the expensive helicopter is flying to THEN try to go find the horses and then remove the fences that are in the way and then herd the animals toward the trap. My strong guess is that a lot of this is done way before the roundup officially starts?


      • The BLM cares nothing about wasting are money to get done their dirty deeds and dont think for one minute they wouldnt work at nite also, to do this, this is how I see it, They waste taxpayers money to needless rounds , then they sell them and castrate them , put a few back, then they make even more money, selling to Slaughter or their hap hazard form of adoption, which now we know is only a form of getting rid of them, at everyone elses costs, they are diabolic their Plan of eradication continues without a hitch…. They did another fast one with Madeliene Pickens, make her and everyone else think she could have The Wild ones and set them free when all the time they had no intention of doing that , just a diversion, to try and keep the advocates happy for a ,moment…….. While they continued on schedule with their Evil Illegal Plan……. Proven fact draw attention away from the real issue….. and you can do the Evil while everyone else has their attention somewhere else…………Oh they are so good at what they do !!!!! They have never told the truth, and they never will……………………….


    • They were all to the west of the loop. The best way is to get on the two tracks just south of Pilot Butte. But if you are in a car there is a larger grated road next to a radio tower that will get you further back as well. Worse case scenrio, you can usually find a couple bachelors along CR 14 to the north. 😉


  5. Western Water Shed has a reputation for being very thorough in their research and very successful in their lawsuits.


  6. Good luck with this. I am so glad you are trying this again. If the places some of our horses live in are now to be over run with gas extraction, please negotiate to move them to other empty horse range. Removals are illegal… keep the wild horses out there!! I know gas leases are available all over these HMA’s. Allow our horses to stay in the wild. Stop these uncompensated removals. Make the extractors pay to move our horses to save range!


  7. I’m grateful to the WWP for stepping in.

    Thank you for that clarification, Barbara W. I wish environmental organizations that segment animals by species — some “good” and some “bad” — would embrace ALL free-roaming animals, would cut off their ties to the so-called conservationist hunters (who preserve for the sole purpose of shooting innocent creatures), and would stop supporting, with their daily dietary habits, the wildlife-destroying animal ag industry.


  8. I know many here have advocated “civil disobedience”, which at some point, I am not adverse to if it is done properly.

    I also know that I can’t remember (and I have many senior moments) the discussion on this and a few other pro-wild equine sites about the “lease” auction process…..done way, way, WAY upfront of the removal process.

    Please take the time to read this from the LA TIMES, P. Yarrow contributor:,0,7950599.story

    Now….why is this worth the time? It’s about process, lying, judicial equality and what is going on in the US now. It is also how the public supported judicial system has turned into a protectorates for special interest influenced politicians and government appointees. It is also about the wholesale sell off of Americas resources and infrastructure….of which, our equines are a part of.

    I just wish Mr. Yarrow would have cited legal citation or studies, but realize that he is limited by space.



    • BTW….my point of the post is that people, concerned, distraught citizens not involved with the wild equines KNOW something is terribly wrong with the current system of public lands management.

      I also thought it would show that there are folks out there that are going to fall on their proverbial swords because they KNOW the system is unjust and are willing to sacrifice themselves to make a difference.

      Is everything right on the defendants side? I don’t know….but is an aspect of our cause, overlapping that I had NO idea of.


    • And, Denise, a big contributor to the corporatization of the government and the judicial system is The Chamber of Commerce, I’ve recently discovered.

      You can sign this petition (without using your full name or giving your street address) demanding that the Chamber STOP protecting polluters, buying members of Congress (and maybe judges?), and manipulating elections (of judges, too?) … and START holding corporations accountable, calling for a clean environment (and much more):

      Sorry if this seems off-topic, but the corruption is all interconnected.

      As is the love for one another that the corruption counterfeits.


      • The US Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit, independent, nongovernment organization that has been reeking havoc for several years. Why? Because they move for megalithic corps (Insurance,Banking, Doctors, Pharma, Mega-Manufacturers that can’t ship jobs overseas, dereg and lower taxes fast enough, etc.).

        The only time they speak for small biz is when pension liability, minimum wage and worker’s comp….which is basically a cover for the hogs at the trough (BIG BIZ)….not really the little guy biz person comes up.


      • Yes, the Chamber of COmmerce is not a friend of the average, middle class american. They are incredibly pro-corporate and happy about the Supreme Court case Citizen’s United that granted corporations the right to unlimited contributions to political campaigns, a right that an actual person does not even have.


  9. Yea yea yea to you & Western Water sheds who kicks BLM’s ass ALL THE TIME ! Stop the STAMPEDES NOW ! In violation of the law, Obama/ Salazars lying corrupt cruel BLM is wiping out Americas wild horses to steal our public lands & stuff millions of privately owned welfare cattle on our public lands, these cattle destroy water, plants, wildlife & cost taxpayers 1 billion per year.


  10. I wont ask where they been , I am just glad they are here now, They are one the Big Guns, I spoke of in another post………….. Just maybe they can do something !!!! They have in the past, these people are powerful………………….Now we must pour it on !!!!! A HUGE WELCOME WWP…..


    • Do you have more info? I thought BLM took about half the equines. I went to the WWP site and think they said BLM “penned” them on the property…not a full removal, but I don’t know.

      If they got them back that is great. WWP does have some partnerships with other nonprofits that do not look favorably on wild equines. Anybody know for sure?


    • I wouldn’t want to take up Mr. Marvel’s time. I have spoken to folks at WWP about this incident and other issues. They were always professional, polite and prompt with my inquiries. I walked away impressed and informed.

      I recall that this happened about 3-5 years ago.


  11. BTW…just want folks to know that the Republican Party is blocking Judge Wu’s lifetime appointment to the Ninth Circuit Court (they heard the Triple B Appeal). Gee I wonder why….tip the conservative v. liberal edge? Wanna bet Wu is more liberal than conservative?

    This goes back to problems within the judicial appointment system, vacancies and the extraction money trolls in big business crapitalism thwarting the judicial process by stacking their fairhaired jurists.

    The guy that tried to obstruct the Utah BLM auction leases for oil got 2 years, $10k fine and 3 years probation.


  12. My comment is awaiting “moderation”…probably because of my use of the term “cr*pitalism”, but I got Wu confused with LIU. I apologize for the confusion if my post ever shows up.


    • And Liu withdrew his nomination because of the Senate and has now been appointed to the CA Supreme Court by Gov Brown….but the Ninth Court vacancies, as with many other jurisdiction still remain.

      Did learn the the US Ninth Circuit is an odd duck with a bizzillion judges compared to the other US Circuits. Wikipedia has some good info.


  13. Thank you Jon and all who do this. You have reached much needed reform in other parts of the Western ranges and their protection for its habitants – your help in this endeavor is so much appreciated.


  14. I recently learned this from a law person and want to share:

    Well in my past years of law, and not many know this and those who do,
    ended up in the Fed
    Penn without charges and they are still there since

    The government does not and can not use our tax money to pay their expenses.
    The government is run on excise and duty taxes not income taxes.
    It is for this reason so many loose their cases and do not know why
    They are ‘arguing’ which is for fools….the wrong thing…..
    Income tax funds are used to pay the debt and nothing more………….


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