Horse News

Court Grants Wild Horse Advocates Right to Intervene in State of Wyoming Anti-Mustang Lawsuit

Under the current Administration, the BLM has rounded up so many wild horses that the number of mustangs stockpiled in government warehouses (nearly 50,000) now exceeds the number that remain free in the wild (under 40,000).

photo by Carol Walker

photo by Carol Walker

On Monday, January 5, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming granted a motion by The Cloud Foundation, noted photographer Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation and other aevocates to intervene in a State of Wyoming lawsuit against the U.S Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over wild horse management. The lawsuit seeks the removal of hundreds of wild horses from public lands in Wyoming, a state in which fewer than 2,500 wild horses remain.

“Our clients wanted to intervene in the case to defend wild horses from the pro-ranching special interests and their allies in state government. Our clients’ goal is to prevent the federal government from acceding to their claims that the horses must be removed from the public lands to protect the private livestock that are allowed to graze on the same lands,” said Caitlin Zittkowski, of  Meyer,Glitzenstein and Crystal, the Washington-DC based law firm that is representing the groups and individuals intervening in the case.

Last year, the BLM  settled a similar legal attack by pro-ranching interests in Wyoming, agreeing to decimate nearly half of the state’s remaining wild horse population. This settlement was then used to justify the blatantly illegal roundup of 1,263 wild horses from three Herd Management Areas in Wyoming last fall, an action that is the subject of active litigation filed by the same organizations and individuals.

Under the current Administration, the BLM has rounded up so many wild horses that the number of mustangs stockpiled in government warehouses (nearly 50,000) now exceeds the number that remain free in the wild (under 40,000).

Statewide, Wyoming’s wild horse population levels are far below the high Appropriate Management Level of 3,722 wild horses, a number established by land use plans throughout the state.

The advocates maintain that the governor’s decision to expend public resources on a lawsuit against the BLM is ironic for a state with so few wild horses remaining, and one that promotes wild horses in tourism videos that tout Wyoming as a state that remains untamed, wild and free.

In Wyoming, wild horse numbers are dwarfed by the number of livestock grazing on public lands at taxpayer expense. Fewer than 2,500 wild horses remain on just 3.2 million acres of public rangeland, while hundreds of thousands of livestock graze 18 million acres of public land in the state. Put another way, wild horses are present in Wyoming on just 2 percent of the BLM land grazed by livestock.

22 replies »

  1. We want justice for the US wild horses and burros who are being driven towards extinction by the corrupt BLM and the welfare ranchers whose sense of entitlement is only exceeded by their unadulterated greed. It is time to start enforcing the laws that protect wild horses–not conjuring up more loopholes and lies.

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  2. I think the Civil War settled the issue of States rights and oversight to the Federal Government of which the BLM is part of. Did they follow the mandate of Congress and the will of the people in managing our American Mustangs or have they and will they appease special interests. The State of Wyoming has no authority over our American Mustangs just as the State of Maryland doesn’t own the fish in Chesapeake Bay. If each state governed what belongs to all the people then enrichment of special interests will violate all the people.

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  3. FREE OUR WILD MUSTANGS !!!!!!!!!!!! Return them to the Range !!!!!!!!! It is where they belong !!!!!!!! Round Up the BLM and send them packing !!!!!!!!

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  4. This case is important for the Wyoming wild horse and public land issues plus since there are many other acres of checkerboard in other states (especially Nevada) this case has a far-reaching scope.

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  5. Legal Declaration from former BLM Manager

    DECLARATION OF LLOYD EISENHAUER
    Katherine A. Meyer
    Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal
    1601 Connecticut Ave., N.W.
    Suite 700
    Washington, D.C. 20009
    (202) 588-5206
    Timothy Kingston
    408 West 23rd Street, Suite 1
    Cheyenne, WY 82001-3519
    (WY Bar No. 6-2720)
    (307) 638-8885
    Attorneys for Defendant-Intervenors
    IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
    FOR THE DISTRICT OF WYOMING
    Rock Springs Grazing Association, Case No. 2:11-cv-00263-NDF
    Plaintiff,
    v.
    Ken Salazar, et al.,
    Defendants,

    DECLARATION OF LLOYD EISENHAUER

    I, Lloyd Eisenhauer, declare as follows:

    1. I live in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I am a former Bureau of Land Management
    (“BLM”) official with extensive experience in the Rawlins and Rock Springs Districts in Wyoming and intimate familiarity with the public lands under BLM management in those areas. I have reviewed the consent decree proposed by BLM and the Rock Springs Grazing Association (“RSGA”) in this case and provide this declaration based on my longstanding knowledge of, and management of, wild horses and livestock grazing in the Rock Springs and Rawlins Districts.

    2. I grew up in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming with a livestock and farming background, served in the Marines for four years, and then owned a livestock business from 1952-1958. I enrolled in college in 1958, studying range management. From 1960-1961, BLM hired me to assist with collecting field data for vegetation assessments and carrying capacity surveys related to livestock and wild horses. These surveys were conducted in the Lander, Kemmerer, and Rawlins Districts. When I graduated in 1962, BLM hired me full-time to serve in the Rawlins District in Wyoming, where most of my work focused on grazing management involving sheep, cattle, and wild horses. From 1968-1972, I was Area Manager of the Baggs-Great Divide Resource Area in the Rawlins District. In 1971, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was enacted, and in the spring of 1972, on behalf of BLM, I conducted the first aerial survey of wild horses in Wyoming, recording the number of horses and designating the Herd Management Areas (“HMAs”) for the Rawlins District. After a stint as an Area Manager with BLM’s Albuquerque, New Mexico office, in 1975 I took over as the Chief of Planning and Environmental Analysis in BLM’s Rock Springs District for three years. I was the lead on all planning and environmental assessments. During that time, I also served as the Acting Area Manager of the Salt Wells Resource Area, which is located in the Rock Springs District. In 1979, BLM transferred me to its Denver Service Center to serve as the Team Leader in creating the agency’s automated process for data collection. I received an excellence of service award from the Secretary of the Interior commending me for my work as a Team Leader. In 1982, I became the Head of Automation in BLM’s Cheyenne office, where I managed and implemented the data collection and processing of various systems related to BLM programs. I retired from BLM in 1986, and have stayed very involved in the issue of wild horse and livestock management on BLM lands in Wyoming, and have written articles about the issue in local and other newspaper outlets. I have won various journalistic awards, including a Presidential award, for my coverage of conservation districts in Wyoming. Along with a partner, I operated a tour business (called Backcountry Tours) for six years, taking various groups into wild places in Wyoming – without a doubt wild horses were the most popular thing to see on a tour, in large part due to their cultural and historical value. I also served six years on the governor’s non-point source water quality task force.

    3. Based on my longstanding knowledge of wild horse and livestock management in the Rawlins and Rock Springs Districts, and in the Wyoming Checkerboard in particular, I am very concerned about BLM’s agreement with RSGA, embodied in the proposed Consent Decree they have filed in this case, under which BLM would remove all wild horses located on RSGA’s private lands on the Wyoming Checkerboard.

    4. The Checkerboard is governed by an exchange of use agreement between the federal government and private parties such as RSGA. However, due to state laws, property lines, and intermingled lands, it is impossible to fence the lands of the Wyoming Checkerboard, which means that both the wild horses and the livestock that graze there roam freely between public and private lands on the Checkerboard without any physical barriers. For this reason, it is illogical for BLM to commit to removing wild horses that are on the “private” lands RSGA owns or leases because those same horses are likely to be on public BLM lands (for example, the Salt Wells, Adobe Town, Great Divide, and White Mountains HMAs) earlier in that same day or later that same evening. Essentially, in contrast to other areas of the country where wild horses still exist, on the Wyoming Checkerborad there is no way to distinguish between horses on “private” lands and those on public lands, and therefore it would be unprecedented, and indeed impossible for BLM to contend that it is removing all horses on RSGA’s “private” lands at any given time of the year, month, or day, considering that those horses would only be on the strictly “private” lands very temporarily and intermittently on any particular day .

    5. Another major concern with BLM’s agreement to remove all horses from the private lands of the Wyoming Checkerboard is that BLM is undermining the laws that apply to the Checkerboard, and wild horse management in general, which I implemented during my time as a BLM official. Traditionally, BLM officials (myself included) have understood that, pursuant to the Wild Horse Act, wild horses have a right to use BLM lands, so long as their population numbers do not cause unacceptable damage to vegetation or other resources. In stark contrast, however, livestock (sheep and cattle) have no similar right to use BLM lands; rather, livestock owners may be granted the privilege of using BLM lands for livestock grazing pursuant to a grazing permit that is granted by BLM under the Taylor Grazing Act, but that privilege can be revoked, modified, or amended by BLM for various reasons, including for damage to vegetation or other resources caused by livestock, or due to sparse forage available to sustain livestock after wild horses are accounted for. BLM’s tentative agreement here does the opposite and instead prioritizes livestock over wild horses, by proposing to remove hundreds of wild horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard without reducing livestock numbers – which, in my view, is contrary to the laws governing BLM’s actions as those mandates were explained to me and administered during the decades that I was a BLM official.

    6. While I do not agree with every management action taken by BLM over the years in the Rock Springs District, I can attest – based on my longstanding employment with BLM and my active monitoring of the agency’s activities during retirement – that BLM has generally proven capable of removing wild horses in the Rock Springs District, including by responding to emergency situations when needed and removing horses when necessary due to resource damage.

    7. Considering that wild horses exhibit different foraging patterns and movement patterns than sheep and cattle, and also than big game such as antelope and elk, no sound biological basis exists for permanently removing wild horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard at this time. In particular, wild horses tend to hang out in the uplands at a greater distance from water sources until they come to briefly drink water every day or two, whereas livestock congregate near water sources and riparian habitat causing concentrated damage to vegetation and soil. For this reason, the impacts of wild horses are far less noticeable on the Checkerboard than impacts from livestock.

    8. In addition, because livestock tend to eat somewhat different forage than wild horses (horses tend to eat coarser vegetation such as Canadian wild rye and other bunch grasses, whereas cattle and sheep mostly eat softer grasses), there is no justification to remove wild horses on the basis that insufficient forage exists to support the current population of wild horses. Also, because cattle and sheep have no front teeth on the front part of their upper jaws, they tend to pull and tear grasses or other forage out by the root causing some long-term damage to vegetation, whereas wild horses, which have front teeth on both their front upper and lower jaws, act more like a lawnmower and just clip the grass or forage (leaving the root uninjured), allowing the vegetation to quickly grow back. These differences are extremely significant because if there were a need to reduce the use of these BLM lands by animals to preserve these public lands, it might be cattle and sheep – not wild horses – that should be reduced to gain the most benefit for the lands, and which is why BLM, during my time as an agency official, focused on reducing livestock grazing.

    9. BLM’s agreement with RSGA states that RSGA’s conservation plan limited livestock grazing, primarily by sheep, to the winter months to provide sufficient winter forage. This is a good example of “multiple use” management, since wild horses and sheep have very little competition for the forage they consume and the seasons during which they use parts of the Checkerboard. During winter, sheep use the high deserts and horses utilize the uplands and breaks (i.e., different locations) for forage and protection. During the summer, when sheep are not present, wild horses use various landscapes on the Checkerboard. This multiple use should continue for the benefit of the livestock, the wild horses, and the public and private lands involved.

    10. I am also very concerned about BLM’s agreement with RSGA to permanently zero out the Salt Wells HMA and the Divide Basin HMA, leaving no wild horses in those areas that have long contained wild horses. I have been to fifteen of the sixteen HMAs in Wyoming, and to my knowledge none has ever been zeroed out by BLM. It is my view, based on everything I know about these areas and the way these public lands are used by wild horses and livestock, that BLM has no biological or ecological basis for zeroing out a herd of wild horses in an HMA that existed at the time the wild horse statute was passed in 1971, as is the case with both the Salt Wells and Divide Basin HMAs. And, again, because the wild horses have a statutory right to be there, whereas livestock only have a privilege that can be revoked at any time by BLM, there also is no authority or precedent, to my knowledge, for the agency to zero out these two longstanding wild horse herds simply to appease private livestock grazers.

    11. The zeroing out of wild horses in the Salt Wells and Divide Basin HMAs is also concerning because it would mean that, in those two longstanding HMAs, there would no longer be the “multiple use” of these public lands as required by both the Wild Horse Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. Currently, while there are other uses of this public land, such as by wildlife, hunters, and recreational users, the two primary uses in those HMAs are by wild horses and livestock. If BLM proceeds with its agreement with RSGA to zero out wild horses in those HMAs, the only major use remaining would be livestock use, meaning that there would be no multiple use of those BLM lands. Not only will that potentially undermine the laws that BLM officials must implement here, but it has practical adverse effects on the resources – multiple use is very beneficial for the environment, and particularly for sensitive vegetation, because different users (e.g., livestock, wild horses) use the lands and vegetation in different ways. When that is eliminated, the resources are subjected to an unnatural use of the lands which can cause severe long-term damage to the vegetation. As a result, zeroing out these herds would likely bedevastating for the vegetation in these two HMAs, because livestock would be by far the predominant use in this area.

    12. Turning the White Mountain HMA into a non-reproducing herd, as the agreement between BLM and RSGA proposes to do, is also a farce, and violates the meaning of a wild and free-roaming animal. This is essentially a slow-motion zeroing out of this HMA, and is inconsistent with any wild horse management approach I am familiar with that BLM has implemented on public lands.
    Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746, I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

    Lloyd Eisenhauer

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    • Thank you for telling the WHOLE TRUTH about BLM’s current “mismanagement of our wild horses to extinction” programs. SALUTE for standing up for our voiceless wild horses and burros and us, god fearing, almighty, tax payers. Money is being wasted to support the corrupt liaison’s with round up contractors (Cattoor’s), welfare ranchers, etc. This database hasn’t been updated but take a look at how much the Wild Horse and Burro program is costing taxpayers and you can sort this to see all the greedy ones that are reaping huge monetary gains. Once again thank you for speaking out! http://www.fedspending.org/fpds/fpds.php?psc_sub=F016&detail=-1&sum_expand=PC

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    • Barbara – I got a notice that they also were involved in an intervening lawsuit – but these groups apparently are against using any contraceptives on the horses. Which certainly makes sense since so few of the herds numbers are where they should be. Hopefully, all of these groups are working together.

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      • I agree , Maggie. It makes no sense to promote fertility control by any means when most herds are not even genetically viable and sustainable and there is no over-population. Using it will only help BLM”manage for extinction”. All advocates must work together now to stop the roundups and removals before it;s too late. I’ve been at this since at least 1990 and this old bitty is worn out but I will keep fighting for our wild horses , burros, wolves, etc. BTW I asked a well known advocate why she has changed from being against PZP to being for it but I got no answer . IMO the DOI/BLM can’t be trusted to make any deals with. It broke the memorandum of understanding with hSUS so why is HSUS promoting PZP?

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      • Right you are. Yep, use of PZP birth control drug benefits the drug company more than it ever will any horses. Studies have shown that it totally F’s up the breeding cycles, leaves the mares and stallions frustrated and only prolongs the breeding season making foals be born in the wrong (dead of winter foalings) seasons. LEAVE the wild ones alone, kick out the welfare ranchers, oil and gas frackers and let Nature take it’s course. Oh, and quit killing off the coyotes, wolves and bears as next to man, they are the wild horses only NATURAL predators.

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      • Barbara, my understanding (admittedly I haven’t researched this in depth) is that HSUS holds the patent or at least usage rights on PZP?

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      • Yes, Icy , Wayne Pacelle sells PZP to the BLM>>>>>> No Doubt he makes Plenty on it !!!!!Hes been pushing Birth control as long as I can remember……. HMMMMM

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  6. Shared with: Wild Horse Warriors at work in the legal system defending against these recent illegal roundups. Wyoming Tourism board better take down their damn photos of wild horses, cuz they ain’t got many left. They should just post photos of cows and sheep, cuz that’s what outnumbers wild horses on public lands 50 to 1 or by now the figures could be more like 10,000 to 1 in Wyoming.

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  7. Thank you for all the work being done to protect our wild horses. They are our living American heritage. I think the horses and their range need to be protected from the BLM and ranchers. (The ranchers that already have too many cattle on the wild horses range.)

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  8. http://theweek.com/home/info/contact

    Not sure where to post this so will put it here. This article was published in the UK online as part of a “conversation” but contains few facts and won’t allow commentary. Among it’s evident claims is that the Great Basin contains 50,000 free-roaming horses, and that horses (unlike any other wild animals) “cannot manage themselves.” This despite over forty years of paid professional “management” at taxpayer expense!

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    • Sure would like to comment on THAT article! Funny how so many of these “stories” are put right out there without any danger that someone might disagree. 50,000 horses “out there”? No – 50,000 in the LTH & STH pens. I’m betting there aren’t more than 20,000-25,000 left free and I think that’s a HIGH count, don’t you?

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      • Maggie, yes. It’s disturbing to consider this was an article apparently published for a UK audience not likely to have much common knowledge of the situation on the ground.

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