Horse News

Ranchers, BLM, Settle Suit Over WY Wild Horses: the Horses LOSE

By MEAD GRUVER as published in the San Francisco Chronicle

50% of the Wild Horses will lose their families, freedom and life as they know it

CHEYENNE, Wyo.  — A legal settlement between ranchers and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management would reduce wild horse numbers by about half on more than 4,300 square miles of sagebrush country in the Red Desert of southwest Wyoming.

Under the agreement, the BLM would allow no more than 1,050 wild horses in four herd areas, down from the current population of just under 2,000 horses in those areas north and south of Rock Springs. Many remaining horses would be sterilized or receive fertility control treatments so they don’t reproduce.

Wild horse advocacy groups that intervened in the case objected, saying Thursday that the settlement threatened to “wipe out” wild horses in the area.

The BLM contends that the settlement will maintain wild horses in southwest Wyoming while meeting a requirement under the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act for the government to remove wild horses from private property when requested to do so.

“We feel like this serves the objectives of the wild horse and burros act by retaining wild horses on the public lands while reducing landowner conflicts where the wild horses stray onto private lands,” BLM spokeswoman Beverly Gorny said Thursday. “That’s really the key issue in that particular area.”

U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal in Cheyenne approved the settlement Wednesday. The settlement requires the BLM to round up horses to meet the new herd target numbers. Roundups will occur this year through 2015, or 2016 if the population objectives aren’t met by then.

The settlement stems from a lawsuit filed in 2011 by the Rock Springs Grazing Association, a group of ranchers who run cattle on a vast area of southwest Wyoming known as the Checkerboard. The area is a mix of public and private land that dates to federal land grants for the Continental Railroad.

Not nearly enough fencing exists to keep wild horses off the Checkerboard’s private tracts. The result, ranchers say, is that horses damage the range and compete with cattle for forage.

The problem can be especially bad where cattle and horses alike congregate at water sources.

The association alleged the BLM allowed wild horse numbers to reach at least 4,700, almost three times the maximum number the BLM previously had agreed to allow in the early 1980s.

The association’s president, John Hay, of Rock Springs, declined to comment Thursday.

Wild horse advocacy groups — the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, The Cloud Foundation, and the International Society for the Preservation of Wild Mustangs and Burros — objected to the settlement.

“We are appalled that the court has put a seal of approval on the BLM’s plan to destroy some of Wyoming’s last remaining and most popular wild horse herds,” Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, said in a release.

Wild horse numbers will be reduced in four herd areas as follows:

—The Salt Wells herd area south of Rock Springs, which currently has 686 horses and is supposed to have been managed to sustain between 251 and 365 horses, will be managed for zero horses. Roundups will occur if the population exceeds 200.

—The Divide Basin herd area northeast of Rock Springs, currently home to 527 horses and managed for a population of between 415 and 600 horses, will be managed for zero horses. Roundups will occur if the population exceeds 100.

—The Adobe Town herd area southeast of Rock Springs, which now has 520 horses and is managed for between 619 and 800 horses, will be managed for between 225 and 450 horses under the settlement.

—The White Mountain herd area northwest of Rock Springs, which has 246 horses, would continue to be managed for between 205 and 300 horses but with a goal of keeping the population at the low end of that range.

The BLM would consider using fertility control methods, as well as spaying mares and gelding stallions, to limit the size of the White Mountain and Adobe Town herds.

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23 replies »

  1. Please keep doing what you are doing never give up! If people unite we can Stop this madness, since the news does not write about it people are unaware. Blogs like this need to be supported and shared for people to understand what is happening with tax payers dollars. Thank you for all you do.


  2. I’m sure the Bureau fought real hard for the horses….
    There is always – ALWAYS – a reason to remove wild horses, but NEVER a reason to allow them to stay. I don’t even know why the Bureau bothers to go through the motions; I’m sure thier lawyers found plenty of reasons to ‘un-comply’ with the Wild Horse and Burro Act because that’s what they – the BLM and their team of mental giant litigators – do: fail wild horses.


  3. If I recall, the agreement for White Montain is that it will be maintained as a “non-reproducing herd”. So they do not intend to keep 205-300 wild horses in White Mountain, but rather will graciously *sarcarm allow a contigent of geldings and spayed mares to stay. Adobe Town will be the only herd of the four that is allowed to have true wild horses. Adobe Town/Salt Wells was the largest wild horse herd in the country and now it is being drawn down to a pittance.

    This is travesty, and leaves no doubt in my mind that greedy cattle barons do still run the show out West.


    • (My blood is up a bit, so please pardon the sarcasm or any other unpleasantness that may show up here…)

      Gelded stallions and spayed mares will NOT fulfill that one basic tenet of the Wild Horse and Burro Act the BLM is SO fond of spewing – a “thriving (natural) ecological balance.” Because gelded and spayed means no more thriving – no creation of any kind. And if they mix ‘neutered’ horses in with the two that can still breed, those animals still eat and drink – they just don’t do much else. Their consuming of resources will still count, won’t it?

      I don’t think this is what Congress had in mind when they passed the Act – a public law the BLM and public lands users have cut holes in for over 40 years. If someone were to ‘amend’ the Taylor Grazing Act in the same fashion, there would be anarchy on the ranges – you can bet yer bippy on THAT.

      Before any more damage is done – the BLM needs to provide PROOF of the hordes of marauding equines laying waste to the range. Not just their damn word or idiot ‘estimates’. Pictures during flyovers, video taken from the planes, something visual other than the half-starved mare and foal pictured on the latest Environmental Assessment for removal usually reserved for Public consumption.

      Horse biology doesn’t support these estimates. And for Wyoming’s cattlemen, who have allotments in the same square mile of their private property, they can likewise make up any number they please.

      But when the horses are gone and the ranges still suck, there won’t be anybody left but the cattlemen to blame.

      NO ONE (other than we pitiful advocates) speaks for or protects these animals. It plumb escapes me that they are under the Bureau’s purview at all.


  4. BLM attorneys have never shown any competency in court..having read many of the cases WWP has won..I can tell you a first year law student could do better..I am going to the WWP membership meeting in May and hope to get a chance to talk with Advocates of the West..the firm that wins all the cases against the BLM..I suggest not only an appeal all the way to the supreme court, ask for a stay on the roundups until it is decided and a countersuit against the Wyo grazing assoc., the state of Wyo and the BLM, demanding that cattle and livestock not be allowed to graze any of the public lands within the checkerboard..which means…they will not be able to cross public lands with their cows and graze..because they also could not fence off state and private lands..turn the tables on these Gerry Spense the great attorney stated..”.people don’t act on what is right..they act on what is in their self interest.”.If removing the horses means removing the’ll see how fast they change their tune


    • Because this is a consent decree, it cannot be appealed. The BLM did not lose a legal battle in this case. The BLM agreed to what the RSGA was suing over. Because this cannot be appealed, new lawsuits will need to be brought suing the BLM when they release the Environmental Assessments and plan the roundups. It will be extremely important that everyone comment on the EAs as thoroughly as they can manage and also donate to the wild horse advocacy groups that will sue to keep these horses on the range where they belong.


      • I donot believe that the BLM had the legal right to agree to zero out herds without first opening it up to “process”..having a Nepa after you have reached an agreement is not the way this is what should make the consent agreement illegal


    • I see, it’s okay for the cattle to wander over onto our public lands and graze but if the public horses wander onto their private land, then they must be removed. This is open range in Wyoming you need to “fence out” what you don’t want on your private lands. Of course they don’t want this to be an option because their cattle could not then graze BLM land for free. Seems that GREED is the bases of everything these days. Balance is the key, nothing in excess. I cannot wait for the day that these ol’ boys get what they have coming.


  5. We need to get someone that really wants to help the wild horses and burros into the BLM. The cattlemen are wrong for wanting to take what was legally the Wild Horses and Burros… When they catch the wild Horses and Burros they GELD the Stallions and then we have no more true WILD ONES ! We would not have as much going on for us if it had not been for the horses and burros. Too many people want more money in their pockets then believing in what should be left alone. Now with all that they are capturing, where do they plan on putting them ! Is that why they want to open SLAUGHTERING PLANTS ??? This makes me so sick, I cry every time that I see all of this BS ! What can we the people do that would get their attention ?


  6. I still say the only to get any attention from the media or our legislators is a massive demonstration in Washington DC. It was done one other time and it did get national news media attention. Buses have been hired around the country to bring people in. Its very sad because it takes money to fight these evil people. Why was Cavel, Intl allowed to take their appeal to the Supreme Court? They were a foreign company operating on US soil. To me they have no rights just as we would have no rights if we operateded a company overseas. I was glad to see the Supreme Court say that they would not hear the case. Its our country NOT THEIRS. And we need to fight for our horses and the other equines who are effected by this cruelty.


    • Exactly what someone else said too, the only way things will change if there is a MASSIVE and I mean MASSIVE protest in Washington D.C.and for now I continue to pray because I believe with prayer also if enough really did, things would also change


  7. Why do the ranchers get their asses kissed? They’re already slopping at the public trough so it’s not like they’re giving up something that belong to them!! It belonged to the horses first!!!


  8. Let’s put all the horses on fenced in public land and remove all cattle. Cattle can remain on the private land of the rancher’s but if they step off the rancher’s land they should be killed. Fair is fair right? Why should one species be annihilated so than another (invasive) species will prosper. I really doubt that a horse is more destructive to land than a cow. The rancher’s are just whining so that they get everything for free. I have never seen welfare queens treated quite so well!


  9. You got it, Irolf. This is the result of cattle ranchers desiring to use OUR public lands to graze THEIR cows for free. Otherwise they would put up fences around their private property to keep out the horses. Instead they demand that the government reduce the horses. Public fencing is a sensible idea.


  10. In addition to welfare ranching of livestock – the reason that the Wyoming horses have been historically removed so drastically is because of the “other” resources (mining and oil and gas and coal) that have proven so financially valuable in that area. Prove it to yourself by going to google earth and look at the thousands of wells within ~100 miles of Rock Springs. BIG BIG money has bought out and politically taken over that area.

    Is anyone besides me curious as to what BLM employees might be getting “profits” from these decisions?

    Look at this map (link below) of the Rock Springs field office that shows upcoming oil/gas lease sales (this upcoming May) and current oil/gas lease sales and then look at the red dots – ALL are current active oil/gas wells… “zillions” of them.

    Click to access v1-0513RSFOog.pdf

    Then compare the above map and info with these maps of the HMAs:

    Does anyone doubt that one of the main reasons that these HMAs have been and continue to be on the zero-out and non-reproducing herd and non-viable herd list is … big oil/gas money? These HMAs would be Little Colorado, White Mountain, Great Basin, Adobe Town and Salt Wells.


  11. reading the 2013 budget proposal for BLM wild horse and burro program..BLM asking for a 2million dollar increase..note to self..BLM only requests 10,000 a year for actual…range improvements..where would the BLM budget be if they managed the range for the horses..does anyone bring these statistics up when they get into court? the BLM has only asked for 10,000 every year..doesn’t change..sounds like donut pool money to me..instead we spend 83 million on removing and holding wild horses
    I personally am sick and tired of hitting the brick wall..the same way..every fricking time..we have gained very little for the wild to nothing..we have become a bunch of rescuers instead of actually saving them..Anyone have any better approach to tackling the BLM…speak up..cause I am tired of hearing the same ole fricking sad tune


  12. A “LEGAL SETTLEMENT” between the BLM and ranchers, are you kidding me? They are in each others pockets so what kind of a settlement are they talking about? Without a fight from our side it wouldn’t take much for a judge to come to any other decision but to go against the wild horses.


  13. I believe wild horse preservation and TCF are going to appeal. This is a HUGE long shot. The judge is the wife of the former governor of WY. And whether they can get a restraining order in the meantime is another question. This is NOT thriving, this is NOT any part of where currently found. This is out and out decimination.

    Spaying mares? Is BLM out of their minds? Not to get to in depth here but that is considered MAJOR surgery. As in sterile environments. And BLM is not known for sterile anything except decimination of the horses. Those mares need pain meds and will need to be watched for a MINIMUM of 30 days. Last time anyone tried this they had a 10% MORTALITY rate.

    Here’s a novel idea! LET’S NEUTER ALL THE CATTLE!

    Pardon my rudeness here but this SUCKS A DOG’s PRIVATE PARTS.

    Selfish greedy cattle ranchers. I’m glad people here had patience with me while I bounced back and forth on being vegetarian. I came home starved today from my workout and didn’t cave to the “canned” chicken I found in my food storage. I’m giving that to the food harvest folk.

    Please read Carol Walker’s journal from Sunday. She found an orphaned foal and the BLM specialist DID get help to that foal, so did the vet and others. The good news is that little one won’t have to suffer the fate so many of his fellow brother and sisters will later this summer


  14. These two herds surround my home ! Thank you. I am on the list to observe! We must work to stop this ! Time is running out. Roundups are scheduled for October – November. Subject to change. I’m on the list to observe. I live in Rock Springs, Wyoming The BLM holding coral is 6 mikes from my home! I check on our horses here daily..Appreciate the work you are all doing to help. I attend all meetings here at the BLM Rock Springs High Mountain Desert . ..regarding our HMAs. We need more attention. I have been sharing all States ! We need more attention for the Wyoming !!! Horses , too !




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