Horse News

Judge’s ruling threatens Pryor herd’s viability

SOURCE:  COURTHOUSE NEWS SERVICE

Wild Horse Management Suit Bucked by Judge
By ANNIE YOUDERIAN

(CN) – The government’s decision to rein in the wild horse population on Montana’s Pryor Mountain did not violate environmental law, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge James Gwin dismissed a challenge by the Cloud Foundation, a Colorado nonprofit that claimed the Bureau of Land Management’s roundup plan threatened the viability of the herd.
The Washington, D.C., judge previously refused to block the roundup, which proceeded as planned in September 2009.

About a year later, the Colorado nonprofit and other environmental groups amended their complaint to try to block the government’s planned expansion of a fence to keep the herd from damaging public land.
In December 2010, Gwin refused to dismiss the case as untimely and declined to transfer it to a judge in Montana.

On Tuesday, he granted the government’s cross-motion for summary judgment, upholding the BLM’s decision to limit the wild horse population to between 90 and 120.

“Against the competing claims for using this land, court finds that the agency used reasoned decision making when it picked the target horse and burro population and its actions were not arbitrary and capricious,” Gwin wrote.

He also rejected the groups’ bid to block fence construction, saying the U.S. Forest Service had “fully explained the need to repair, maintain and slightly extend the fence.”

“The Forest Service determined that extending and realigning the fence would ‘reduce long-term maintenance needs, provide an effective barrier, and minimize conflicts with other legitimate uses on adjacent National Forest System land,'” Gwin explained.

It was too late to challenge the government’s exclusion of BLM wild horse roundups from the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, he added, because the event already happened.

And any decisions to exempt future roundups from such requirements “will be shaped by a number of factors and circumstances unique to that specific future horse gather,” Gwin wrote.

“Only after reviewing BLM’s reasoning behind an invocation of a categorical exclusion can a court determine if a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act has occurred,” he wrote. “Therefore, plaintiffs have not challenged final agency action.”

The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range spans more than 39,000 acres in Carbona County, Mont., and Big Horn County, Wyo., and is home to wild horses of colonial Spanish-American heritage.
Federal law requires the BLM and the Forest Service to care for and manage wild horses on land in their respective jurisdictions.
The Pryor Mountain Mustangs were the subject of the documentary films “Cloud: Wild Stallions of the Rockies,” “Cloud’s Legacy: The Wild Stallion Returns” and “Cloud: Challenge of the Stallions,” produced by the Cloud Foundation’s executive director, Ginger Kathrens.

READ THE OPINION AND ORDER HERE.

19 replies »

  1. We will continue to fight the Government on the Prior Herds management. This herd is a special one and we must not let the BLM continue to zero them out. Never. Letting the whole world know this. We must fight for their survival. Oh the damage the BLM and the forest service has caused. The Government is out to destroy our wild horses period. We must save them. Speak out and be an advocate. Call your representatives, speak up on these matters. The horses need our help.to survive this turmoil now.

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  2. ALL THE BLM WANTS IS TO TAKE THE PUBLIC LANDS AND SALE LEASES FOR OIL, GAS, COAL, ETC. THEY CARE NOTHING ABOUT ANY OF THE WILDLIFE ALL THEY CARE FOR IS THE MONEY THEY CAN PUT IN THEIR POCKETS. IT IS TIME PEOPLE REALIZE THIS OR WE WILL END UP WITH THE HORSES AND ALL WILDLIFE A THING OF THE PAST. WE MUST WORK TO STOP THIS OR OUR GREAT COUNTRY IS GONE.

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  3. I have been a plaintiff on this lawsuit since 2009 with the Cloud Foundation and Front Range Equine Rescue, and I watched this horrible fence being erected cutting the wild horses off from half of their range and it was clear that the BLM and the Forest Service were out to destroy this herd. We have been waiting for this judge’s decision for a very long time, and it is really frustrating and sad to see that there is nothing that we can do through the legal system at this time.

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    • I am shocked Carol…and deeply saddened..I am worried about “Cloud” and the rest of the herd who stole my heart a few years ago.

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    • I am extremely saddened for Cloud, his band and extended family and other bands in the area affected by this judge’s decision. It’s clear he has not seen any of the films you have produced, nor has he seen any wild horses in person. If he had he never would have made this judgment, I’m sure of this. We are left with the kindness of likeminded people’s hearts and pocket book’s. Unfortunately, the country is in a bad way, we can only hope it gets better from here on out. I am hoping sincerely for this. The unfortunate thing is that Madeline Picken’s kind heart didn’t pan out, I was so hoping for her “Wild Horse Sanctuary” but it turned into a fiasco with wild geldings and mares and rich people, not my idea for a ‘sanctuary’ at all! The tide is bound to turn, sooner that later, I can only hope!

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  4. my Main Concern Is The Safety Of These Horses. If You Leave Their Management To The BLM and The Forestry Service, They Will Likely Be Sent To Slaughter. Put Three Money To better Use. Remove Them From Their Grip If Nothing Else, Gather And Steal Them From This Government. Remove Them To A Place Of Safety. I Would Rather See Them Live Comfortably In A Sanctuary Or A Private Home Than In BLM Holding Pens Or Dying In A Slaughter House. It’s Past Time To Take Action. Protect Them Or loose

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  5. I cannot believe this is happening..This is disturbing!!
    “Cloud” the ICON, his family and the others are special.
    Out of control BLM and Forest Service full of Greed and Destruction.

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  6. The wild horses are part of our history and should be protected for future generations.They are part of our ecosystem,along with other wildlife that should be saved,not managed to the point of extinction.What does this say about us as a people,a nation that does not take care of its national treasures? !!! When will mankind learn to live with enough compassion and intelligence to know that in destroying these precious lives,and their environment; that ultimately we are destroying our own,,These wildlife species have lived in the same ecosystem for centuries without doing harm to the environment.The different species eat different things and strike a balance.Building fences to interfere with the natural range of all these species will harm the environment along with bringing cattle in that is destroying the environment,not the horses.Please continue to fight to save the horses,despite the greed that is the real problem.

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  7. As much as I love this beautiful country we call The United States of America, sometimes, like right now, I wish that someone would come here & take over our crazed beyond belief, God-less, inept, stupid, heartless, soul-less, zombie-like “government”! We, as American, &, most of us, God-fearing, law abiding citizens, are losing our freedoms left & right, immorality is running rampant, & we are quickly losing everything that made this country so beautiful, everything that lured people from all over the world to want to come here & settle here in the first place, so long ago. When you take away people’s rights & freedoms, enforce “rights” that aren’t “rights” at all, threaten us if we get out of line, especially in the areas of religious beliefs & practices, or whether we can truly “afford” this so-called mockery known as the “affordable healthcare law”, as in, if you don’t (or can’t) get this new, unattainable health insurance, you’re going to be penalized with some idiotic tax! When we have succeeded in destroying our beautiful lands & waters, when we have killed so many animals, wild & domestic, to the point of no return, then what?? What is so wrong with leaving this particular Pryor Mountain herd alone? Why can’t this fairly small group of American wild Mustangs just be left alone & actually protected, their genes, their bloodlines, their American legacy. They are world famous, Cloud is the ultimate wild horse ambassador, they are, or could be, a major international tourist attraction. If “they” don’t destroy them first. And, then we have the unbelievable horse slaughter issue pending & hanging over our heads. And, the return of the magnificent gray wolf, at great cost & labor no less, only to be massively “hunted” & killed, once again. Oh, & the recent story of a young elk gently & cautiously approaching a human, being simply curious as ALL babies are, not causing or intending to do harm, “euthanized” because some idiot humans “thought” it was somehow a “threat”! I could go on, but we all already know what goes on all around us, question is, WHAT are WE really going to DO about it?? Enough ranting from me for one day. So sad! 😦

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  8. IS THIS THE SAME JUDGE?

    http://www.cleveland.com/countyincrisis/index.ssf/2011/11/federal_judge_james_gwin_remov.html
    Federal Judge JAMES GWIN removes himself from Dimora, Forlani corruption case
    CLEVELAND, Ohio — A federal judge who scolded prosecutors for causing delays in the trials of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and his co-defendant, electrical contractor Michael Forlani, removed himself from the case late Wednesday.

    U.S. District Judge James Gwin did not offer an explanation for his decision. The Dimora and Forlani case was reassigned to federal Judge Sara Lioi, who presides over the majority of the Cuyahoga County corruption cases and is based in Akron.

    At a hearing last week, Gwin snapped at Assistant U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon after she announced plans to seek additional charges against Dimora and Forlani.
    When the judge balked at allowing Bacon to file under seal unspecified “embarrassing and sensitive” information about a person who has not yet been charged, prosecutors told Gwin the information “bears on whether [Gwin] should keep on handling this case.”

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  9. The only thing that can be done is everyone buy as many as you can afford if they are sent to a auction and work to put them in good homes. That’s what has been saving the young horses from this herd that is being rounded up. Every judge that has presided on any lawsuit against the BLM is on their side from the beginning. The judge simply gets a phone call from the higher ups at the BLM and is told how to handle the case. We have seen this happen time after time. It’s a waste of time and money to file anymore lawsuits against the crooked BLM they are not going to let anyone win against them. The money would be better spent toward saving the young ones.

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  10. Does anyone here know of a rescue or orgainization that just buys rounded up wild horses and trains them for resale-I would be interested in learning about such a place

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  11. “The government’s decision to rein in the wild horse population on Montana’s Pryor Mountain did not violate environmental law, a federal judge ruled.”

    The BLM may not have violated environmental law but the Code of Federal Regulations may offer some help.

    “The Code of Federal Regulations is the official codification of the general and permanent rules and regulations—referred to in a broad sense as administrative law—published in the Federal Register. – See more at: http://federal.laws.com/code-of-federal-regulations#sthash.kHlyZBC9.dpuf

    “These rules are treated by the courts as legally binding forms of statutory law, provided that the regulations are a reasonable interpretation of the underlying statutes. – See more at: http://federal.laws.com/code-of-federal-regulations#sthash.kHlyZBC9.dpuf

    The ‘CFR’s’ for the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 were written by the BLM who constantly amend them (bend the rules) to make the ‘Better’. But who are they being made better for? We all know the answer to that question…it’s for their convenience or to further their ultimate goal.

    The Pryor Mountain area is one of 4 designated Wild Horse Ranges and are managed differently than the typical HMA. In this case it appears that the reduction of the herd is questionable at best due to the acreage vs, the AML.

    The CRF’s are quite clear.

    §4710.2 Inventory and monitoring.
    The authorized officer shall maintain a record of the herd areas that existed in 1971, and a current inventory of the numbers of animals and their areas of use. When herd management areas are established, the authorized officer shall also inventory and monitor herd and habitat characteristics.

    §4710.3-2 Wild horse and burro ranges.
    Herd management areas may also be designated as wild horse or burro ranges to be managed principally, but not necessarily exclusively, for wild horse or burro herds.

    The question I have is when was the ‘fence’ built? Was it after the 71 Act and the subsequent CFR’s or before? What were the census numbers in 1971? The CFR’s have to be a reasonable interpretation of the Act’s intent. They cannot contradict!

    The judge’s ruling was on environmental law but what about the Act itself…

    “The Secretary shall manage wild free-roaming horses and burros in a manner that is designed to achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands.”

    Dr. Gus Cothran of Texas A&M has said to maintain a healthy herd requires 120 to 150 healthy breeding age animals.

    So is the BLM following the Act and the CFR’s by wanting to reduce the herd so dramatically (dangerously)? The number of horses now should be no less than in 71, and the land as it existed in 71 is to be managed “Principally” for their use. A herd of 90 to 120 cannot be considered a ‘thriving’ herd as it endangers the herd itself via inbreeding and other issues of nature.

    It is my belief the BLM sees the importance of the Pryor herd to the general public and the awesome publicity it gets on PBS much less commercial photographers and videographers. They have obviously refrained so far from capturing Cloud because they know the next words they would hear are “Would you like a blindfold?” but this just might be the time they wish to rein in the most popular wild horse in America. After all most of America right now is trying to register for healthcare, or looking for jobs etc. America’s focus is on themselves and their families so if it were announced tomorrow that Cloud and his family were captured would anyone other than the advocacy even notice or care?

    Would America really turn livid if it was announced tomorrow that 50,000 wild horses and burros were being destroyed due to the lack of management of our Federal Government? Maybe a few eyebrows would be raised and maybe a Congressman or two might say something but right now most American’s are so disgusted with Congress that they don’t put anything past them when it comes to outrageous acts. They simply say “What can I do about it?”

    I’m concerned that an agency who wrote the rule book can amend it willy nilly to suit their needs. There must be better oversight…but by who? Some idiot like Steve King?

    Our government is failing the wild ones and the process of electing others to replace the neanderthals we have in Washington now takes so long the BLM will have already had it’s way before and new batch of dolts gets their feet wet. The only immediate option we have is the POTUS. We have to somehow convince him to start issuing Executive Orders on behalf of the animals the BLM seems intent on destroying.

    The BLM has to be ordered to ‘stand down’ until the program can be dismantled and restructured to once again reflect the spirit of the original Act of 71. Outsiders need to be brought in to take over the failings of nearly 42 years of mismanagement. The CFR”s need to be rewritten by someone other than the BLM who’s intent clearly does not reflect the law. No sane person believes being chased by a helicopter is not stressful but the BLM people want it to be ok.

    Sorry for the length of this I just get so angry when the Feds go against the people…We the People own those horses but some how they don’t see it that way.

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  12. This is not the answer but it may spread the word. Has anyone ever done a tweetstorm to bring attention to these issues? It can even be scheduled worldwide at the same time. Someone would have to make the tweets in a list. Let me know what you think. @Fillows4

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