Horse News

New Lawsuit Filed to Stop BLM Wild Horse Roundup in Wyoming Checkerboard

Action Comes As Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Considers Legality of BLM Decision to Eradicate Wild Horses from Public Lands in the Area

photo by Carol Walker

photo by Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Cheyenne, WY (October 4, 2016) – The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), Return to FreedomThe Cloud Foundation, and photographers Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl filed suit yesterday in U.S. District in Wyoming against the BLM, challenging the agency’s decision to conduct another wild horse roundup in the Wyoming Checkerboard in the southern part of the state. The wild horse advocates are represented by Bill Eubanks of the public interest environmental law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks LLP.

The lawsuit is the latest chapter in an ongoing legal battle against over the BLM’s plan to eradicate wild horses from a two million acre area of public and private land at the request of the Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGS). The RSGA owns or leases the private land blocks in the Checkerboard and views wild horses as competition for taxpayer subsidized livestock grazing on the public lands in the area.

On September 19, 2016 the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on the plaintiffs’ appeal of a lawsuit challenging the 2014 BLM Checkerboard roundup in which 1,260 wild horses were rounded up by helicopters and removed from the range. At issue in both cases is the legality of the BLM’s reliance on a request from private landowners to remove wild horses from private lands as an excuse to eradicate them from the public lands in the area as well. 

“The BLM is turning over control of more than one million acres of public land to private grazing interests that want wild horses eradicated from the range. This sets a terrible precedent that jeopardizes the safety and future of wild horses across the West,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of AWHPC. 

“The BLM’s concession to wipe out wild horses in Wyoming is not only illegal, but a blatant slap in the face to the majority of Americans who want to enjoy wild horses on our public lands,” said Neda DeMayo, CEO of Return to Freedom. “We’re committed to upholding the law and protecting our wild horses and public lands from special interests who monopolize the resources there.”

“It doesn’t speak well of BLM, when the agency jumps the gun while the jury is, literally, still out on this issue,” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. “Until the Checkerboard lands are consolidated into large blocks of private and public lands, this controversy will continue.”

“The BLM once again shows blatant disregard for both legal statutes and the wild horses in its care. We should not have to fight to protect our wild horses from the BLM,” said Carol Walker, who has extensively observed and photographed the wild horses in the Wyoming Checkerboard.

The latest lawsuit challenges the BLM’s decision to round up an estimated 550 wild horses from the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas beginning on October 18. The plaintiffs will seek an injunction to prevent the BLM from beginning the roundup until the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the initial lawsuit.

7 replies »

  1. Adobe Town research planned for the Checkerboard – while also removing horses, which will skew any research results dramatically. Our tax dollars at work!

    GPS Collaring Study – Wyoming – Public Comments Oct 3 – Nov 1

    RAWLINS, Wyo. (RELEASE) — The Bureau of Land Management and the University of Wyoming are launching a new study to explore the movement and habitat selection of wild horses in Adobe Town Herd Management Area (HMA). The research will involve using radio collars on the horses to learn more about seasonal use, migration patterns, and herd movements in the area. No horses will be removed from the range as part of this effort.

    “The study will last for about a year and will involve collaring 30 wild mares and monitoring their movements across the range,” said BLM Rawlins Field Manager Dennis Carpenter. “We are happy to be working with the University of Wyoming on this study that will provide more information about how these horses interact with their environment and will ensure BLM continues to have healthy horses living on healthy rangelands.”

    “The use of GPS collars on the Adobe Town mares will provide us with insight on how these horses move into, though, and across the public-private land matrix, how horses select rangelands resources across seasons, and (3) how porous or not-porous the Colorado-Wyoming border really is for horses,” said Derek Scasta, Ph.D. Assistant Professor and Extension Rangeland Specialist, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, University of Wyoming. “Our experience with USGS researchers shows that these collars can be safely used on horses with a very low risk of injury.”

    EA link

    This BLM link indicates the removals have been “postponed” without reference to why or any revised start date:


  2. Collaring declared safe despite some injuries, according to Dr. Leon Pielstick, who seems to have been on the BLM payroll in multiple areas of wild horse research, including the now-abandoned barbaric “research” planned on wild mares at OSU.

    One has to wonder why a simple GPS trackable microchip wouldn’t be a better system, less visible, less harmful, probably less expensive, and would allow lifelong tracking of a chipped animal.


      1991 WILD HORSE POPULATIONS: FIELD STUDIES IN GENETICS AND FERTILITY Report to the Bureau of Land Management U.S. Department of the Interior Committee on Wild Horse and Burro Research Board on Agriculture National Research Council
      Between 1987 and 1989, however, number of horses involved in the study suffered injuries to their necks and ears that were caused by the collars used to locate and identify the experimental animals. Serious questions have been raised concerning the deaths of some of these animals, the nature and extent of the wounds, and possible changes in behavior of the animals as result of collar problems.
      The research team has attributed two deaths to collar-related problems. The first was 25-year-old mare that died at Stone Cabin after being darted to treat tight collar. The second loss occurred when stallion fell off cliff after being darted at Clan Alpine. Other animals with collars were found dead. One had collar imbedded 30 WILD HORSES: FIELD STUDIES IN GENETICS AND FERTILITY in its neck, but no cause of death was determined. Another animal was found dead 12 days after she had been darted but failed to succumb. She was judged to have been dead for to days. The causes of both of these deaths were classified as “other.” The research team classified as natural the deaths of an additional 21 collared horses (4 with marker collars and 17 with radio collars) that were found dead before August 1988.
      Four other animals died during collaring procedures, and two more with collars were found dead but their deaths were classified as “other.”
      “…wounds caused by the tight collars appeared to be quite painful and if the collars were not removed or adjusted more serious damage and the possibility of death”
      WILD HORSE POPULATIONS: FIELD STUDIES IN GENETICS AND FERTILITY Report to the Bureau of Land Management U.S. Department of the Interior Committee on Wild Horse and Burro Research Board on Agriculture National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1991


      • GG thanks for posting this, I tried to find it without success. This data is decades old now, though and the link I provides shows the more recent research and collar designs which the BLM is intent on using. They look ungainly and cumbersome even now, and seeing Dr. Peilstick’s involvement raised many questions for me.


  3. Federal law cannot be violated under a consent decree. Although the BLM is positioning this devastating plan as the implementation of a court-approved settlement of a lawsuit filed by the Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGA), a court settlement cannot trump federal law. The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2) establishes that the Constitution, federal laws made pursuant to it, and treaties made under its authority, constitute the supreme law of the land. The constitutional principle derived from the Supremacy Clause is Federal preemption. Preemption applies regardless of whether the conflicting laws come from legislatures, courts, administrative agencies, or constitutions.
    Cornell University Law School. “Supremacy Clause”.


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