Horse News

Cow vs Wild Horse Law Suit Still Clogging Courtroom

By Mateusz Perkowski East Oregonian Publishing Group

Rancher and Wife Claim Native Horses and Elk Destroying Environment, Not Cows

PORTLAND – A federal judge will require further evidence before deciding if federal management of wild horses has harmed threatened steelhead in Oregon’s Malheur National Forest.

Dayville ranchers Loren and Piper Stout contend that the U.S. Forest Service has violated the Endangered Species Act by allowing too many wild horses to “take” the federally protected fish by harming its habitat.

Their lawsuit alleges the horses cause damage to streams, resulting in grazing curtailments in the area.

U.S. District Judge Ancer Haggerty recently heard oral arguments in the case in Portland and has decided that there “are legitimate and material disputes” over the methods of assessing habitat damage.

“These disputes cannot be resolved on summary judgment, and require the benefit of live testimony and exhibits during trial,” said Haggerty in a ruling April 24.

The percentage of a stream bank altered by hooves, known as bank alteration, is used to gauge damage to habitat.

Caroline Lobdell, an attorney for Stout, said her client believes that standard should apply equally to horses as well as cattle.

“We don’t think there ought to be a double standard,” she said.

In the same ruling, Haggerty rejected Stout’s claims that the Forest Service’s policies violate laws governing the management of wild horses and forests.

The agency acted within its discretion by setting the appropriate management level within the Murderers Creek allotment of the national forest at 100 head, the judge said.

The Forest Service didn’t act unlawfully by allowing the herd to exceed that level, given the agency’s budgetary constraints and the cost of horse gathers, he said.

There are currently an estimated 200 horses on the allotment, down from about 400 six years ago.

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13 replies »

  1. Oh no, the Stouts again. And just how many cattle have been there and staying in the riparian areas and ruining them? The wild horses don’t do that and are innocent of course.


  2. ‘Caroline Lobdell, an attorney for Stout, said her client believes that standard should apply equally to horses as well as cattle.’

    “We don’t think there ought to be a double standard,” she said. (think again sister)

    Let’s see…what part of wild vs domesticated do these fools not understand? For that matter what part of ‘Free Roaming’ don’t they understand (the judge as well)?

    It sounds to me like they are grasping at straws with hopes the government will eventually come and take the horses away.

    Clearly a case of frivolous lawsuits costing the taxpayers money and taking time away from courtrooms with cases that deserve to be heard.


  3. Come on really???? I guess cattle people will do anything to get the poor horses and burros off the land that was designated for them. Anyone with half a brain knows that cattle certainly can cause more damage than a herd of horses. They will not overgraze an area like other animals do unless they are confined to that area. I hope they loose this case. Someone needs to stand up for the poor horses and burros.


  4. In her book Animals Make Us Human, livestock specialist Dr. Temple Grandin includes a section in her chapter on cows describing their riparian behavior of cows. Unlike horses who drink and run, cows like to linger by the creek. Grandin says, “One of the biggest headaches for cattle ranchers who graze their cattle on government land is riparian loafing. Riparian loading means cattle that keep grazing protected land beside rivers and creeds after they’ve been repeatedly herded off. The government strictly regulates grazing in riparian areas because healthy creek beds and riverbeds are essential to a healthy range, and agencies will pull the permits of ranchers who can’t keep their cattle away from the banks. That puts a lot of pressure on the ranchers because as few as twenty to forty cattle can “grub out” a creek bottom.” Dr. Grandin attributes some of this to poor handling and training by stockmen. Cows and horses are not equal riparian destructors. This is bovine behavior. Therefore, it is ridiculous to suggest that cows and horses be treated equally.

    Of course, the BLM usually turns such science on its ear removing horses for the damage that cattle do, so what good is the truth when the truth doesn’t seem to matter?


    • Sounds logical to me. But then the BLM usually looks at the big picture with cattle interests in mind.


    Monday, April 30, 2012
    WildEarth Guardians Sues the Nation’s Biggest Wildlife Killer: The Federal Government
    Group Requests Court to Stop Illegal Extermination Programs
    Contact: Wendy Keefover (303) 573-4898 x 1162
    Additional Contact: Ashley Wilmes |WildEarth Guardians | 303.573.4898, Ext. 1304
    Las Vegas. WildEarth Guardians has sued to enjoin the federal agency responsible for killing more than 5 million animals annually for its refusal to analyze the environmental consequences of its actions in almost two decades. Between 2004 and 2010, Wildlife Services, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, spent nearly $1 billion to kill nearly 23 million animals using aerial guns, poisons, traps, snares, and hounds, purportedly to protect agriculture and other private interests as part of a grossly ineffective and wasteful program. Wildlife Services, however, continues to rely on a woefully outdated environmental analysis for its wildlife-killing activities that fails to take into account new reports on the risks and inefficiencies of its program, evolving public values for wildlife, and new scientific and economic information concerning wildlife management.

    “Wildlife Services employs an arsenal of weaponry to kill America’s native wildlife and it’s time that courts neutralize this agency. We want the court to ban its poisons, silence its guns, and pull up its traps because it’s a horrendous misuse of our tax dollars to slaughter the nation’s bears, wolves, coyotes, and myriad other species,” said Wendy Keefover, Director of Carnivore Protection for WildEarth Guardians.

    Wildlife Services relies on an 18 year-old environmental document to conduct its wildlife-eradication programs in violation of federal law. The research cited in that assessment dates as far back as 1936, with most studies dating from the 1980’s. WildEarth Guardians has presented significant new information to the agency on the costs, ineffectiveness, and environmental harms of wildlife-killing programs to the agency, but it has refused to consider the new data in implementing its actions.

    “Wildlife Services relies upon antiquated studies in order to justify its wildlife-killing activities,” said Ashley Wilmes, staff attorney for WildEarth Guardians, “and we want it to shut down its lethal operations—particularly those that are conducted in designated Wilderness Areas.”

    Wildlife Services liberally distributes sodium cyanide booby traps and shoots tens of thousands of native carnivores such as coyotes and wolves from helicopters and airplanes on public lands, including in wilderness areas in violation of federal law. The agency’s killing methods are ubiquitous and indiscriminate and annually kill untold numbers of “non-target” species.

    Wildlife Services last issued a review of its program in 1994, when it studied the environmental consequences of killing only 17 target species, based upon its records from 1988. Since that study, its budget has grown by about 400 percent and the numbers of target species it kills is closer to 300.

    About half of Wildlife Services’ budget is funded from federal tax dollars, while the rest is provided by unnamed “cooperators” such as states, counties, municipalities, and even industry groups like the American Sheep Industry Alliance and the Farm Bureau.


  6. This smacks of Department of Interior/Bureau of Indian Affairs. We need more concrete information.


  7. Excuse me! But, how in the hell can wild horses even possibly affect or hurt fish!!?? For hundreds of years (really, much longer than that!), wild horses have peacefully co-existed with ALL other wildlife, including fish! The only thing that can hurt fish, or any other wildlife, are humans! Think pollution, over-fishing, destroying the natural environment, global warming, just to name a few ways. Cattle are proven to be over-grazers, at least wild horse herds move about, they usually don’t stay in the same place 24/7. Why don’t the wildlife services actually try to do their given jobs, to care for & correctly manage all wildlife in their charge? Cattle are not wildlife. Sounds very similar to what wolves are going through, you know, you’ve got to kill & get rid of the big, bad, scary wolves, before they kill your prized “trophy animals”, with no regards to the truth. Same with the horses, humans want to blame them for declines in the fish poplulations, rather than on themselves or their precious, fat, invasive, over-grazing cattle! Our American government is completely & totally to blame for any & all threats to wildlife, including our wild horses & burros. They are the ones we need to go after!


  8. Click to access idc-017645.pdf

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Nedra Darling
    April 25, 2012 (202) 219-4152
    Third Tribal Consultation on Draft Indian Affairs Administrative
    Organizational Assessment Report and BIA & BIE Streamlining Plans
    SPOKANE, WASH. — The third government-to-government tribal consultation regarding the Indian Affairs Administrative Organizational Assessment Draft Report and Bureau of Indian
    Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education streamlining plans starts Thursday, April 26, 2012 at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino, Wash. The two-day consultation is the third of seven that will take place around the country in Arizona, Florida, South Dakota, Oklahoma, California and Alaska. The first was held in Miami on April 12 and 13, 2012.
    Tribal leaders have said that organizational changes are needed in the administration of Indian
    Affairs programs and services to better meet the needs of the federally recognized tribes throughout Indian Country. The Department of the Interior’s Indian Affairs officials have heeded these concerns and undertaken an extensive review of the organization of the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE).


  9. The Tribes would be wise to proceed with caution. As we have found, these “streamlined roadmaps” can be filled with dangerous, unmarked detours:
    DOI Revising and Streamlining the Current Strategic Plan for FYs’ 2011 to 2016.
    The Department of the Interior is in the process of revising and streamling the current Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2011-2016. The Plan is used as a roadmap for the Department, and a means of communication its goals and specific commitments to the public, stakeholders, and employees.
    To get the entire Tribal Leaders Letter and consulation schedule click here.


  10. Sounds to me like the Stouts have been either warned, reprimanded or cited repeatedly by DOI/USDA and continue to FAIL TO HERD THEIR FREAKING CATTLE!…..KEEP ‘EM MOVING YOU IDIOTS!

    Also want to bet they are getting legal and financial assistance to pursue these ridiculous law suits AGAINST wild equines by the known enemies of wild equines (NCBA, Farm Bureau, etc)?!?!

    I’d like to know to whom they sell their cattle; I will go extra miles and dollars to NOT buy their beef (bet they export anyway)…..while I’m at the butcher, I will also inform the other consumers.


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