Horse News

Advocates File Suit to Stop Illegal Removal of Wild Horses in Wyoming

Equine Photographer, Carol Walker – by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Cheyenne, WY (October 6, 2017) . . . The American Wild Horse Campaign and wildlife photographers Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl filed suit today in U.S. District Court in Wyoming to stop the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from illegally rounding up hundreds of wild horses in a helicopter capture operation currently underway in southwestern Wyoming.

The lawsuit charges the BLM with violating three federal laws by rounding up hundreds more horses than previously disclosed by excluding foals and weanlings from its official count of horses removed from the range. It also challenges the agency’s shipment of captured mustangs to two privately-owned feedlots that are not open to the public for viewing and adoption.

According to attorney William Eubanks of Meyer Glitzenstein and Eubanks, “BLM’s action of permanently removing hundreds more horses than it determined to be excess animals, and which the agency never disclosed to the public nor analyzed in any fashion under relevant environmental laws, is not only unlawful but completely unconscionable in light of the Tenth Circuit’s strongly worded ruling last year telling BLM to comply with federal law when removing horses from these public lands. In some ways, BLM’s new approach is even worse for horses than the old approach that the Tenth Circuit invalidated; BLM is trying every technique possible to remove horses from the range in these HMAs except for following the laws Congress entrusted to the agency.”

It’s the third time the plaintiffs have filed suit to challenge the BLM’s illegal actions in this area known as the Wyoming Checkerboard. Last year the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals handed the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign two precedent setting legal victories related to the BLM’s actions in Wyoming. (More on the Tenth Circuit Decisions hereand here.)

The BLM has found a new way to wipe out Wyoming’s wild horse herds by pretending that young horses don’t count,” said co-plaintiff Carol Walker, a highly regarded wildlife photographer who is also Director of Field Documentation for the Wild Horse Freedom Federation, a wild horse advocacy organization based in Texas. “The BLM’s stunning lack of concern for the welfare of the wild horses under its care and lack of transparency to the public of its treatment of these horses has never been more evident than during this roundup, “

Walker first learned of the BLM’s plan to remove close to 2,000 wild horses instead of the 1,560 previously disclosed as an observer onsite at the roundup, which began on September 26 and is expected to last 4-6 weeks.

“The BLM just asked Congress for permission to slaughter America’s mustangs over the opposition of 80% of Americans. Now the agency is rounding up hundreds more horses than authorized and sending them to private feedlots in Idaho and Utah where they will never be seen again,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of the American Wild Horse Campaign. “By filing this lawsuit, we’re again taking a stand against this agency’s blatant lack of transparency and total disregard for the will of the American people, the welfare of our wild horses, the federal laws that protect these national icons on our public lands.”


AWHC has led a years-long 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 (RSGA). The RSGA owns or leases the private land blocks in the Checkerboard and views wild horses as competition for taxpayer subsidized livestock grazing on public lands. The legal battle has spanned three separate legal actions (RSGA vs. DOI, AWHC vs. DOI (2014), AWHC vs. DOI (2016). 

Less than a year ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued a landmark decision that stops the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from wiping out wild horses from over one million acres of public land in the Wyoming Checkerboard.

This roundup comes on the heels of other roundups, including the removal of approximately 100 horses from the range near Bible Springs, Utah last month. In all cases, the BLM is mum on the impacts of this unprecedented roundup activity on the thousands of wild horses who will be captured and removed from public lands.

These horses are in grave danger of being killed or sold for slaughter if Congress grants the BLM’s 2018 budget request to lift the current prohibition on destroying healthy wild horses and burros or selling them for slaughter. A provision that would allow this practice passed out of the House Appropriations Committee in July and is awaiting action in the Senate.

14 replies »

  1. The Checkerboard roundup is illegal not only because of the false WH count and sending captured horses to their doom in Axtell and Bruno facilities, but also because they’re barring advocates from any reasonably close observation of the roundup, and now insisting on censuring any videos taken. Thanks AWHC, Carol and Kimerlee for the lawsuit. This rogue agency must be kept in check.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is an outrage! Where is the media coverage on this? We thought the other Secretary was an idiot this guy is terrible! Just like Trump they don’t believe they have to follow the letter of the law. How about jail time for these violators of the BLM? It seems to me these judges need to get with it and hold them in contempt of court from top down. They need to cancel all the leases for the Freddy the Free Loaders running their livestock on public lands making profits. In my area of the country if you want to raise livestock or crops you buy the land. You certainly cannot farm or run livestock set aside for open lands. But yet those out in the Western states feel they have a right to public lands. Wrong!!! Is there some type of gofundme to help with these legal defenses? Wouldn’t it be nice to spend the funds on expanding their care? Just pathetic and a waste of our tax payers monies! However, we cannot let up for one second!

    Liked by 1 person

    • None were returned after the last lawsuit which found the Checkerboard roundups illegal, it seems once they are caught they are forever gone unless someone sees the trucks on the highway. This would seem to support making a case for a moratorium on rounding up more or shipping out any already caught while the case is reviewed. In a normal world. I haven’t read the suit but hope it includes some sort of “cease and desist” moratorium language.


  3. Magic Numbers: If the BLM counts foals as one AUM (wild horses don’t get the 2 or 5 animals per AUM as do cattle and sheep), then their removals rightly must also count as one AUM for reaching their target AML.

    I’ve seen wild horses calculated at 1.25 AUMs for a single adult horse, when most never reach 1,000 lbs., yet modern cows are often far heavier than that 1,000 lbs., and their calves often weigh 500-600 lbs. at the end of a grazing season on public grass. Yet together they are calculated at 1 AUM.

    In most, if not all, remaining wild horse areas, livestock grazing is permitted, so wild horses have to compete for the scarce resources there. It is beyond unfair and probably illegal to manipulate the AUM calculations in this way.


  4. The cattle/beef industry lives off blood money…from the death of not only their livestock, but causing the destruction of environment and health of humans. Kickem out of this country because the USA doesn’t need more idiots who won’t live by our nation’s motto: “In God We Trust”. If they did, they wouldn’t breed such corruption, and would stop extinguishing lives they have no right to.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It seems to depend upon the circumstances as to whether Foals are counted.
    They certainly seem to count when it comes to AUMs (Animal Unit Months)
    It’s my understanding that a Mare and Foal are counted as 2 while a cow/calf pair are counted as 1


  6. Sorry to change the subject, but guess what? Remember those missing statistics on population sizes of HMA’s and HA’s? Well, I was simply doing research on BLM freeze brands and the meaning behind the coding and, all of a sudden, I stumbled across some those missing files! I don’t know if someone accidentally leaked them or if the BLM planned on posting them to their new site due to the complaints, but they are still here! However, I’m not sure if these are originals or if the numbers were tampered with or have been modified, it’s too late for me to check at the moment. Be sure to download them to your PC just in case the BLM decides to take them down:


    Click to access wildhorse_quickfacts_doc17.pdf


    Click to access wildhorse_quickfacts_doc16.pdf


    Click to access wildhorse_quickfacts_doc15.pdf


    Click to access wildhorse_quickfacts_doc14.pdf


    Click to access wildhorse_programdata_2017hmastats.pdf




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