Horse Slaughter

9th Circuit Condones BLM’s Destruction of Wild Horse and Burro Herds

Years of Litigation Leads to Lopsided Court Decision

Twin Peaks Wild Horses prior to 2010 stampede and removal~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Twin Peaks Wild Horses prior to 2010 stampede and removal~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a split decision on Monday upholding the government’s Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM)roundup of more than 1,600 wild horses along the Nevada-California line in 2010.

In the 2-1 ruling, the appellate panel in San Francisco rejected an appeal by wild equine advocates who accuesed the U.S. Bureau of Land Management of gathering too many wild horses and burros in violation of several laws, including the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.

Judge Carlos Bea concluded in the majority opinion the BLM completed the necessary environmental reviews for the Twin Peaks roundup not far from the Oregon line, and that the court must defer to the agency’s expertise.

“In sum, the BLM’s actions fell within the discretion which courts have recognized the BLM has to remove excess animals,” he wrote.

Judge Johnnie Rawlinson wrote in a strongly worded dissent that such deference isn’t warranted if the agency interprets part of a law inconsistently with its overall purpose. She argues BLM violated the intent of Congress to protect the horses.

The ruling upheld an earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. in Sacramento that found the BLM acted legally when it gathered horses from overpopulated herds it determined were three times larger than the range can ecologically sustain.

The agency projected that left unchecked, the herds could exceed 6,000 to 8,000 animals within a decade.

But In Defense of Animals and others argued, among other things, that the act prohibits the removal of any mustangs from horse management areas on the range before the agency first identifies old, sick or lame animals to be destroyed humanely.

BLM maintains the term “remove” should be interpreted to refer to the permanent removal of animals, not the temporary gathering of animals to determine which ones should be euthanized and which should be made available for adoption.

“We agree with BLM,” Bea wrote, adding that the act itself does not define “remove.”

“The BLM has definitely done a great smear campaign on our wild horses.” stated Rachel Fazio, advocate attorney,  “To be honest reading this opinion it is as if we never wrote any briefs or researched any law  – and never mind the actual facts- it is as if we weren’t even involved in the litigation at all.  Half of our claims they didn’t even deal with, they didn’t address the prohibition on “capture, harassment, branding and death” – they just focused on the removal language;  they got out from under the Principally language by at the 11th hour claiming that the Twin Peaks HMA wasn’t a range, even though the Act does not permit the creation of an HMA, only the creation of a range, and that Dahl v. Clark actually found that designation of an HMA was done pursuant to the range provision of the Act (ie HMA= range) – and of course the wink and a nod on the long-term holding; its on private lands.”

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34 replies »

  1. Oh, yes, corruption HAS reached “the courts.” One only need look at the Supreme Court for evidence of that!!


  2. “Contrary to the legislative intent”. I think that line in he dissent sums up the BLM’s management of wild horses quite nicely.


    • The entire purpose of UN CBD Article 8 (h) was to contradict the intent of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act [P.L. 92-195 (30 USC 16 1331-1340)]. Article 8 (h) labels our wild horses as alien, non-native, exotic, feral (not the feral that FWS claims), invasive, animal species that are pest of plants. Instead of being protected, the 1997 IPPC which includes Article 8 (h) states that these invasive, animal pest species should be prevented, controlled, and eradicated. The USDA has these laws posted as US invasive species laws, but the joke on us is that the link to Equus caballus is a broken link to Massey University and the University of Waikota in New Zealand is for New Zealand only the USDA APHIS or Al Gore’s wild horse hit man removed the “for New Zealand only” from the web site. There is so much corruption, deceit, and duplicity in these federal agencies as a result of the fact that they serve two masters–the tax payer and VP Gore’s Green Mafia, and let there be no mistake about who these people are most loyal to. We should be able to challenge this decision based on the provisions that the IUCN says that these decisions should be made on sound science. These decisions are made on non-as in never-existent science.


  3. Corruption has reached new heights, it is in our Courts for sure, this has proven that, When allows this to continue we are as guilty as they are, sad but true are hands are tied, when Science has been ignored and good sense has been shot down, we have got to figure out what to do, they are completely destroying our Land , and Mustangs, Mother Nature has her own agenda which she shall never ignore or detour from, we can count on her for that , we must also count on ourselves, we now know we will get no help from the courts, maybe it is now time to take matters in our own hands and do what we know we must…………………Our Mustangs are the single must important issue, there will be no future without them, they are intricately that important to survival of all living things …………….


  4. Our fight gets harder and harder. Only corporate money matters to our so called “leaders” and our “justice” system. We are losing this battle. It is so discouraging and sad when you fight with your very soul and nothing ever comes from your efforts. The corporate wheel just keeps grinding on and American citizens do not matter.


  5. Three open positions on the Advisory Board – a federal register notice announcing that BLM is accepting applications for the following positions will be forthcoming:

    Wild Horse & Burro Advocacy position, presently held by June Sewing
    Veterinary Medicine position currently held by Boyd Spratling
    Public Interest position presently held by Callie Hendrickson. In total, the board remains overwhelmingly stacked against the wild horses, with five of nine members having clear ties to the livestock industry:

    Dr. Cope, the new member, whose specialty is “range livestock.”
    John Falen, a rancher who holds permits to graze livestock on BLM lands
    Callie Hendrickson, pro-horse slaughter cattlewoman who was appointed to represent the public, which is overwhelmingly opposed to horse slaughter;
    Boyd Spratling, the board chair, who is a veterinarian and former president of the Nevada Cattleman’s Association;
    Rick Danvir, wildlife manager at Deseret Land & Livestock, a large cattle operation in Utah

    Replacing BLM board members with educated people who have no benefit to eliminating our horses, but who will act on scientific facts and reality, without bias, is our only defense.


    • I’m curious to know how much John Falen knows about the basis of the Clinton Gore scheme. As a confidant of former BLM Director Bob Abbey and a son and daughter-in-law that are attorneys, he may understand the game better than most. Wonder if he can be a honest broker or if he is an actor for the World Bank’s no longer existing Global Invasive Species Programme. He would has been one of the first and most important people to influence using their hypothesis that it would be possible to persuade humans that consensus exists that what is harmless is actually harmful–and to focus on his survival–economic survival.


  6. Maybe that ought to be suggested in the contest, under ‘obstacles’ – an advisory board stacked in favor of livestock interests. What a PR move and an exercise in futility this latest thing is. They’ll have no intention of implementing any good suggestions they may get. The BLM is even rejecting birth control use based on ‘scientific dissent’. And what can you say about the helicopter roundups – if they weren’t sick and lame before the roundups, they certainly will be afterwards. *facepalm*


  7. Our beautiful country is losing its laws to the bought off civil servant who ascends to the judgeships. This ruling is a clear indication that upholding the law is held abeyed by regulation and internal policy as adopted by government. Government has now shaken its oversight by the Courts. We are all vulnerable.


    • International law has been used to supersede federal law. International law (1997 Update of IPPC includes Article 8 (h) is about destroying wild horses and burros as alien, invasive plant pests. A total myth, but then what does Al Gore need scientific facts for?


  8. At least one of the three did not agree with the BLM. From the description of the many attorneys on the BLM’s side – they must have needed more than one table for them!
    It still gets me that its supposed to be necessary to “remove old, crippled animals” when they always seem to be getting alone great until the roundups proceed. Why is that – I wonder.


  9. I am beyond sick and tired of the money grubbing, slipping big bucks silently hand to hand of these pure fools who are as dirty as the stuff we clean from the bottom of our horses’ hooves. BLM: Government, we already KNOW this is the worst government, with cover ups, lies, cheating the public, the list goes on and on, and they are not taking our country’s true meaning, and instead grinding it into the ground. These horses helped develop this country, they are a part of America’s heritage, and this is what is being done?!? Basically it is: “they are in the way of big money, so let’s just KILL THEM” Let’s get some of the good ranchers who know, understand, and love the heritage of the west, and appreciate the majestic horse and get them on board, unlike these incredibly corrupted “officials”. They are more than likely getting their pockets lined, and I wonder how they would feel if their families were horrendously rounded up and stuck in pens, children separated from mothers, and brutally killed? No, they sure wouldn’t, would they? This is infuriating. I am SICK AND TIRED of how our pets, wild horses, animals, are being treated in this country, a country people used to be proud of, now its the laughing stock of the world. Someone send this to Hannity and other channels that will back these animals up. There needs to be more of a nationwide notification of this issue, the east coast people have not a clue about the west and wild horse issues, etc. Not saying that not all do not, but the majority do not know, and if they don’t know, they will not care.


  10. Remove, removest, removest is the philosophy, always has been. If they whine about eco-systems that “can’t” sustain the horses while millions of cattle do just fine… why don’t they create an eco-system, specifically for the horses ??? This way their assigned duties of preservation in a sustainable environment according to the Act would be fulfilled – yet they circumvent laws, deceive the public and the goons in the courts even now join the corruption ship. Disgusting what America has become. Criminalize everyone but themselves, those working for this crappy system seem to be from another world, that is not governend by the US judicial system. Nothing they do applies to the laws we must uphold. America is becoming a shameful, self-serving lying compound, facilitating self-serving agendas only – while us, the public and all caring for justice to prevail, are treated like imbeciles. Just like the “promised” increase of welfare and comfort…. all PR maneuvres to win time to do whatever they want. This country does not function on reason and justice, only on corruption.


  11. I wish to thank Rachel Fazio and ALL persons who have tried for the past four years to make the courts realize the illegal activities of the BLM for this atrocious capture of our innocent wild horses and burros from the Twin Peaks HMA. There were no “excess” wild horses and burros on their legally designated land.

    Out of the 1799 wild horses and burros captured, 1732 were permanently removed from their land – almost a million acres. BLM sold 88 of our Twin Peaks wild horses and wild burros to Tom Davis. In addition, 92 had died within about 6 months and at least 182 are known to have died within the first two years after capture. Foals born in captivity are still unaccounted for. The rest of the Twin Peaks horses and burros are unaccounted for because the long term holding facilities where they were taken are off-limits to the public … are any even still there?

    This will provide you more information about Twin Peaks:

    And you will want to read this true story:

    My heart goes out every day to the wild ones who have suffered the injustice of humans – especially those who belong living free in the wild at Twin Peak as Mother Nature intended.


    • Some of us have had a personal stake in the Twin Peaks litigation, by relationships established with the people who first, fought to stop the roundup by legal injunction, while others sought to reverse the outcome of the roundup. Some of us witnessed the roundup itself, and were irrevocably changed by the loss… the permanent, bitter loss of these incredible animals.
      Some of us have made lifetime friendships out of the need to defend these animals with whatever tools we have at hand.
      Some of us have made careers out of The Follow-Up, traveling the distances again and again to see this magnificent HMA – as much of the nearly 800,000 acres as a puny human CAN see. And shake our heads in disbelief that this vast expanse of rangeland has been categorized by it’s inability to support any more than 1,000 wild horses and burros. It defies the senses.
      We paid close attention when Nature literally brought the Fires of Hell to this HMA, burning nearly 316,000 acres in Northern California and Nevada in August, 2012. That this wildfire was the second largest in California since 1932 somehow escaped the media, but not BLM’s ‘purpose and need’: Within weeks after the fire, a single-site tour by upper management declared wild equines would not survive the Winter, and should -yet again- be removed. Days later, volunteer observers noted and documented green grass sprouting up through the ash…so much for the Official Version.
      Some of us dared to hope that this might finally be THE case, where the intent of the law would be upheld to benefit the horses and burros – for a change.
      But some us refuse to give up. By the actions of a few, we are better prepared for the next round of BS that will no doubt surface – documented agendas screaming for wild horse and burro removal even as they have barely started their recovery.
      It took the Ninth Circuit nearly 4 years to come to this ‘decision’, and even then, one judge would not, in good conscience, agree. Judge Johnnie Rawlins was and remained throughout the strongest supporter of the spirit of the laws meant to protect these animals.
      And there, I think, we can find hope.


  12. This decision is disturbing and indicates a need for further pursuit.

    Dallas, Texas (CNN) — The Dallas Safari Club auctioned off a black rhino hunting permit in Namibia for $350,000, according to the club’s public relations firm.
    Wealthy hunters gathered Saturday evening inside the Dallas Convention Center to bid on the rare chance to hunt one of the world’s most endangered animals


  13. Ninth Battling to Regain Spot as ‘Most Reversed’ Circuit

    By William Peacock, Esq.
    Lets play a word association game. What are the first things you think of when you hear “Ninth Circuit”?

    The Ninth’s reputation precedes it, and with the results of the recent spate of Supreme Court decisions, it may have reclaimed it’s title as the most reversed circuit court in America (though the Sixth is certainly putting up a good fight).
    In December, the ABA Journal stated that the Sixth Circuit had surpassed the infamous Ninth as the most reversed court, with an 81.6 percent reversal rate since the fall of 2005. The Ninth Circuit, which held the second-place spot, was reversed in “only” 78.1 percent of cases.

    Perhaps feeling the heat from their Midwestern rival, the Ninth Circuit has put up a stunning record in the Supreme Court’s latest term. Though the Sixth Circuit is sporting a 100 percent reversal rate, that only comes on two decisions, according to the May 31 edition of SCOTUSblog’s ever-useful stat pack. The Ninth, meanwhile, has an 86 percent reversal rate on 7 decisions handed down so far in the current term.

    In the ten days since, the Ninth Circuit has twice more been reversed:


  14. Nothing’s Sacred

    The Snowbowl in Flagstaff won’t have to stop at climate change, which has induced a lack of natural snow on the ski slopes, and now it doesn’t have to stop at pouring shit-water on a holy mountain in its quest for greasy bucks and fake snow.

    The court majority said the use of the wastewater won’t violate the U.S. Religious Freedom Restoration Act because it doesn’t “substantially burden” the native groups’ religious practices.

    The Indian groups contended the wastewater snow would desecrate the mountain, deprecate their religious ceremonies and offend their religious feelings.

    But JUDGE CARLOS BEA said in the majority opinion that the effect on the Indians’ “subjective spiritual experience” does not qualify as a substantial burden under the law because the Indians will not be denied access to or use of the mountain for religious practices.

    So, basically the Court said, “Screw you, Tribes.”

    It ruled that since the Native Americans still get to go to the Peaks, it doesn’t really matter what is done to the land. Isn’t it lucky that Anglos worship money?

    We expect widespread protests from skiers everywhere who will boycott the shitty Snowbowl. This means you.

    And, let’s not forget that these oinkers are operating on public land.


  15. Judges protect capital, plain and simple. They are the gatekeepers of the realm of big money that bought the other two branches of government and are there as a last resort to see capital and corporate greed win despite th law and will of the people.


  16. LIke I said earlier what the hell is happening to this world? all you hear is kill this andkill that and leave it whereit may but something has to be done either the courts have to see with there own eyes or maybe inpeach all the BLM members and start anew because its not working its all one sided and like someone said its about the money not the laws anymore well did anyone hear of karma i think these people are going to suffer yet but first we have to invite the people of the court to come and see how things are really being done and I think and audit of all accounts banks and private accounts Iam sure theres away to have it done.


  17. When dogs are being destroyed at shelters because they are not adopted people are appalled. Why should it be different for horses?


    • Because dogs and cats, unfortunately are not protected by the 1971 Act passed by Congress……they also don’t compete with extraction and livestock special interests clogging the halls of Congress. And that is just for starters.

      To compare dogs and cats to wild equines is absurd, does not address the malfeasance of the regulatory agencies involved, the theft of their lands and the cruelty of their removals and deaths.

      Really, we are talking vastly different population counts; not that I support kill shelters either.


  18. Is there any prospect of an appeal/reversal here? It sounds like the judges didn’t even address some of the points of argument at all. What’s next?


  19. WHY is the Safari Club involved with this lawsuit?
    Oil and Gas Industry Investments in the National Rifle Association and Safari Club International
    Reshaping American Energy, Land, and Wildlife Policy
    (Endnotes and citations are available in the PDF version of this report).

    Two bedrock principles have guided the work and advocacy of American sportsmen for more than a century. First, under the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, wildlife in the United States is considered a public good to be conserved for everyone and accessible to everyone, not a commodity that can be bought and owned by the highest bidder. Second, since President Theodore Roosevelt’s creation of the first wildlife refuges and national forests, sportsmen have fought to protect wildlife habitat from development and fragmentation to ensure healthy game supplies.

    These two principles, however, are coming under growing fire from an aggressive and coordinated campaign funded by the oil and gas industry.
    In this report, we identify three high-profile debates in which the growing influence of the oil and gas industry in SCI (SAFARI CULB INTERNATIONAL),
    CSF, the NRA and other conservative sportsmen groups could play a decisive role in achieving outcomes that are beneficial to energy companies at the expense of habitat protection, science-based management, and hunter and angler access to wildlife and public lands. These areas to watch are:

    Endangered and threatened wildlife in oil- and gas-producing regions: The case of the greater sage grouse and the lesser prairie chicken

    The backcountry: How the oil and gas industry and its allies are working to undo protections of roadless areas and wilderness study areas

    Public access and ownership: The movement to privatize public lands and wildlife


  20. Public-Land Protests and Their Big-Energy Puppet Masters
    By: Mary Catherine O’Connor
    Thursday, May 8, 2014

    Whatever kind of showdown ensues, in the end it may not be the gun-toting anti-federalists that present the largest threat to the best use of public lands in the West.

    Based on a recent Center for American Progress (CAP) report, oil and gas companies may be pulling the strings behind these localized, and more sensationalized, confrontations—a la the recent Cliven Bundy debacle in Nevada.

    The CAP report details shows how oil and gas companies are leveraging three groups in particular….SARARI CLUB INTERNATIONAL (SFI),
    Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), and
    the National Rifle Association (NRA)
    to attain “an increasingly active and vocal role in advancing energy industry priorities, even when those positions are in APPARENT CONFLICT WITH THE INTERESTS of hunters and anglers who are their rank-and-file members.”


  21. I just want everyone to know that some of the politicians want to pass the Sportsmen’ Act S.1996. What this will do is open millions of acres of public Land along with sensitive wilderness areas to hunting and trapping at the expense of other land users and endangered species. It would prevent the EPA from considering the issue of toxic lead ammunition which poisons wildlife and the environment. It would also permit the latest in a series of import allowances for sport hunted polar bear trophies from Canada which would encourage trophy hunting to escalate the killing of threatened species world wide. The senator that wants to pass this insane bill probably stands to make a lot of money under the table in kickbacks from all of the hunting organizations around the world if he can get it passed. Call your senators and tell them No on this insane bill and tell them why. I guess this would actually give the big nut trappers the right to set leg hold traps anywhere they please no matter how much damage these things do to whatever animal or pet is caught in one.



    Why Is The Oil Industry Giving Millions To The NRA?

    The interests of rank-and-file members of prominent U.S. sportsmen’s groups are being steadily undercut by the increasing influence over those organizations by the oil and gas industry as it seeks to push development into protected wildlife habitat and privatize public lands.

    Last week, a $1 million donation by a large Texas oil company to the NRA became an issue in New York City, where the city comptroller asked Clayton Williams Energy Inc. to explain the purpose of the contribution. Comptroller Scott Stringer, who oversees the city’s $150 billion pension fund that has $3.2 million worth of Williams stock, asked the company to provide a full disclosure to shareholders of its political contributions


  23. Straying Wild Horses and the Range Landowner:
    The Search for Peaceful Coexistence
    Alfred W. Buckley
    William W. Buckley

    In 1971 Congress passed Public Law 92-195, the Wild Free-Roaming
    Horses and -Burros Act,’ to preserve a vanishing symbol of American
    pioneer heritage.’ Before this statute was enacted, wild horses and burross
    were in danger of extinction.4 Today the success of the Act has prompted
    much controversy as to whether wild horses overpopulate the public
    rangelands6 in the Western United States.6 Private landowners adjacent to
    federal regions often complain that wild horses “stray” onto their parcels
    and consume their forage and water.7 While owners have the right to use
    and enjoy their property free from incursions,8 Congress intended protection
    of a living emblem of the Nation’s spirit to be of paramount
    importance. 9


  24. Wow, BLM BLOCKED ME from commenting on their WH&B Facebook, and other BLM and Twitter accounts. I actually supported them during the Bundy Incident, and Never once used foul or inappropriate language. I did call them a pile of green rocks, management that is. Guess it was the PZP issue, and the fact that the timing coincides with the birth dates of the foals on their Adoption site, all two dozen. Giving PZP when mares are in season they know will fail, and using Advocates to do it is genius. BLM can’t even serve a warrant without failing. If it doesn’t involve injuring, capturing, killing, or disabling Wild Horses or Burros, they can’t handle the job.


  25. I’m not even going to ask where is the justice because I know that there is none. How the hell can we just sit back and watch it happen without ever doing anything about it but be nice and play by the rules…


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