Major Victory for Wild Horses – Federal Appeals Court Denies Wyoming’s Appeal Against Wild Horses

Source: Carol Walker as published on

“This is a major precedential victory that will have important implications for federal wild horse policy for decades to come,”

For Immediate Release

View online here.

Major Victory for Wild Horses: Federal Appeals Court Tosses State of Wyoming’s Anti-Mustang Lawsuit


DENVER, CO (October 11, 2016) . . . Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the State of Wyoming against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) seeking the removal of hundreds of wild horses from public lands across the state. The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom, Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation and wild horse photographer Kimerlee Curyl were granted the right to intervene in the case and filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against the BLM.

At issue in the case, first filed in 2014, were wild horses in the Antelope Hills, Crooks Mountain, Green Mountain, Lost Creek, Stewart Creek, Fifteenmile and Little Colorado Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in Wyoming.

The Tenth Circuit held, “We reject the State’s arguments… the [Wild Horse] Act does not define the phrase “appropriate management level” and thus does not equate it with any requirement to remove excess animals from a particular HMA… the BLM is under no statutory duty to remove animals from the seven HMAs at issue.”

“This is a major precedential victory that will have important implications for federal wild horse policy for decades to come,” said Bill Eubanks of the public interest law firm Meyer, Glitzenstein and Eubanks, which represented the intervenors in this case.

“The appellate court has clearly affirmed two important issues – first that wild horse populations in excess of the BLM’s arbitrarily established ‘appropriate’ management levels do not equate with overpopulation, and second that the BLM is not required to remove wild horses from the range even if it determines an overpopulation exists,” Eubanks continued. “Rather the agency has broad discretion to implement other management approaches, including implementation of fertility control to humanely reduce population growth rates and reduction in livestock grazing within HMAs.”

Eubanks said that this precedential decision will impact similar pending cases at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and in U.S. District Court in Utah, and should serve as a deterrent to other states, including Nevada, considering litigation to compel the federal government to round up and remove thousands of wild horses from Western public lands.

The State of Wyoming lawsuit sought the removal of hundreds of wild horses from public lands in Wyoming, a state in where just 6,500 wild horses remain on 3.2 million acres of BLM-managed land. By contrast, hundreds of thousands of domestic cattle and sheep graze 18 million acres of BLM land in the state. Put another way, wild horses are present in Wyoming on just 2 percent of the BLM land grazed by livestock.

Eubanks is also representing the groups on separate litigation involving the BLM’s decision to wipe out wild horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard, a two million acre area of public and private land in the southern part of the state. The groups are awaiting a Tenth Circuit decision on a 2014 lawsuit and have filed new litigation challenging the BLM’s plan to conduct another Wyoming Checkerboard roundup, beginning as early as October 18.

Wild Horses: Portrait of the Wild Stallion Tecumseh from McCullough Peaks

By Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation
as published on Wild Hoofbeats

“It’s ‘Feel Good Sunday’ and our own Carol Walker shares a bitter-sweet wild horse story both through pictures and her words.  Truly stunning and an educational read suited for all audiences.  Enjoy!” ~ R.T.

Click on image to view photos and to read Carol's complete story

Click on image to view photos and to read Carol’s complete story

I have been visiting and photographing the McCullough Peaks Herd in northern Wyoming since the summer of 2004. In June of 2005, I met a plucky, curious yearling colt with extraordinary markings who I later heard was named Tecumseh.

Tecumseh and his family spent their time in the Red Point Area of McCullough Peaks, which is the area most easily accessible from the main road. Sometimes bands of horses would be visible from the highway, and locals and visitors have enjoyed  visiting and following the activities of the horses in the herd. Locals and the BLM give names to the horses. Over time, as I got to know more and more horses in the herd, Tecumseh has always been one of my favorites…(CONTINUED)

URGENT: Tell Congress to Ban Horse Slaughter Once and for All TODAY!

Wild Horse Freedom Federation partners with the ASPCA and others in a CAll TO ACTION!
Tuesday is National Call-In Day

American Horses trucked to Mexico for slaughterNEW: S. 541/H.R. 1094—The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act

Sponsors:  Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Representatives Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

ASPCA/WHFF Position:  Support

Action Needed:  Call and email your U.S. senators and representative in Washington, D.C., today to ask them to cosponsor the SAFE Act. Please thank them if they are already cosponsors!

Recent revelations that horse meat accidentally entered the food chain overseas have put a media spotlight on the issue of horse slaughter. It seems that horse slaughterers are incapable of preventing horse meat from mingling with their other products. If it can happen there, it can happen here. We’re happy to tell you that Congress is responding.

Just introduced in both chambers of Congress, The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act will prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the U.S. and ban their export abroad for that purpose. This bill will protect our nation’s horses from the predatory horse slaughter industry and protect the public from toxic horse meat.

The cruelties associated with horse slaughter are well-documented. Passage of the SAFE Act will not only ensure that predatory horse slaughterers cannot reopen their doors here in the U.S.—it will also stop the trafficking of horses to slaughterhouses over our borders.

As you know, horse slaughter isn’t a humane end for horses. There is no such thing as a commercial horse slaughter plant that does not inflict cruelty on horses. And horse slaughter is not only bad for horses, it’s also bad for people. Meat from American horses is unsafe for human consumption. Our horses are not raised as food animals; they are raised to be companions, sport competitors or work partners. Horses are routinely given medications and other substances that are toxic to humans and are expressly forbidden by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in animals intended for human consumption.

Enacting a ban on horse slaughter has never been more urgent! The USDA has announced its intention to approve a permit allowing a New Mexico slaughterhouse to begin slaughtering horses. Help us prevent this and any other slaughterhouses from butchering even a single American horse.

What You Can Do

Please take a moment to send a polite email to your federal legislators in Congress and urge them to cosponsor the SAFE Act (S. 541/H.R. 1094), a bill to ban the slaughter of American horses for human consumption.

We will automatically sort out for you if your legislator is a cosponsor, so you can thank them if they’ve already taken that step.

For even more impact, make a brief, polite phone call to your representative and senators in DC. Calling is fast, easy and the best way to reach your legislators. Look up your legislators’ names and phone numbers here. Don’t be nervous about calling—it’s easy, fast, and by far the most effective thing you can do! You can use this script when speaking with the receptionist:

“Hi, this is _______ and I am your constituent residing in [town and state]. I’m calling today to urge Representative/Senator _______ to support the SAFE Act, legislation to ban the slaughter of American horses and their export for that purpose abroad. Thank you!”

On behalf of our nation’s horses, thank you for your help!

Wild Horse Freedom Federation Receives the GuideStar Exchange Seal as a Demonstration of Its Commitment to Fiscal Transparency

Source: Press Release from Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“We are committed to raising nonprofit fiscal transparency to another level”
Click Image to Learn More

Click Image to Learn More

HOUSTON, TXWild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) today received the GuideStar Exchange Seal, a leading symbol of fiscal transparency and accountability provided by GuideStar USA, Inc., the premier source of nonprofit information. The Seal demonstrates to WHFF‘s vast support-base our deep commitment to nonprofit transparency and accountability.

“We have worked diligently to showcase our progress toward our mission on behalf of the horses and our long-held belief in being transparent about our work and fiscal responsibility to our equally hard working donors,” said R.T. Fitch, co-founder and president. “As a GuideStar Exchange member we can use their platform to share a wealth of up-to-date information about our work to our supporters and GuideStar’s immense online audience of nonprofits, grantmakers, individual donors, and the media. It’s been a long, hard trail to ride but it has now paid off in spades.”

In order to be awarded the GuideStar Exchange Seal, WHFF diligently and professionally completed every required field of our nonprofit report page on, including our annual report, photos, videos, etc.

“We encourage you to check out our profile on GuideStar to see what we’re all about,” added Fitch. “We are engaged in exciting initiatives (investigations, research and education), and we are thrilled to have another platform for communicating our advancement and progress.”

About the GuideStar Exchange

The GuideStar Exchange is an initiative designed to connect nonprofits with current and potential supporters. With millions of people coming to GuideStar to learn more about nonprofit organizations, the GuideStar Exchange allows nonprofits to share a wealth of up-to-date information with GuideStar’s many audiences. Becoming a GuideStar Exchange member is free of charge. To join, organizations need to update their report pages, completing all required fields for membership. The GuideStar Exchange Seal, acknowledged as a symbol of transparency in the nonprofit sector, is displayed on all Exchange members’ report pages.

Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) is a registered, Texas non-profit corporation, likewise registered with the States Attorney’s office in all 50 states in the Union and also maintains a federal 501(c)(3) status.  WHFF puts people between America’s wild equids and extinction through targeted litigation against governmental agencies whose documented agendas include the eradication of wild horse and burros from public, federal and state lands.

BLM Writes to WHFF: ‘Rock Springs Wild Horse Holding Facility Update’

Forward by R.T. Fitch ~ volunteer president of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“It came from out of the blue…”

“Last Friday Debbie Coffey, Wild Horse Freedom Federation’s (WHFF) Director of Wild Horse Affairs, and myself as volunteer president of WHFF received a most unusual email, it simply read:


Please find an update about the Rock Springs Wild Horse Holding Facility.

Cindy Wertz

Public Affairs Specialist
Wyoming State Office
(307) 775-6014

Attached was the Word Document, below.  We were a little surprised as it came from nowhere but also are pleased to note that the BLM IS reading what we are writing/posting and someone seems to be paying attention.  We have not edited the document below and I did write back to Ms. Wertz and thanked her for the update; we do know how to act civil now and then.

But Deb and I thought that we would share this rare occurrence with you as evidence that yes, you can get someone’s attention if you keep knocking on the door long enough.  Keep the Faith!” ~ R.T.



Jan. 25, 2013

Contact: Cindy Wertz (307) 775-6014

Rock Springs Wild Horse Holding Facility Update

BLM HorsesEarlier this week, BLM cancelled an upcoming horse adoption because some of the younger (weanlings) horses at the Rock Springs Corral have strangles. Strangles is very common among all horses.  Strangles is an upper respiratory infection.

While stress can be a contributing factor, the fact is these horses have been residing in the corrals since they were gathered in early November. There is no correlation between that gather and their current condition.In fact, there have been reports that domestic horses in the same vicinity also have strangles. It is simply a bacterial infection.

Here is a current photo, taken at the Rock Springs facility. These horses are healthy and will still be available for adoption in March. The corrals have been temporarily closed since October so all animals received during the North Lander Wild Horse Gather could be evaluated by a veterinarian, dewormed, Coggins tested, and given their booster shots.

Here are some current photos of the weanlings. They came right up to the photographer.

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Cupid Shot an Arrow for the Wild Horses and Burros

by R.T. Fitch ~ President of the Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF)

Valentine’s Day was a Hit for both Horses and Humans

It is rare that we can look back over a week that has passed and find more good news than bad but in reviewing the past week, there have been a lot of good things that have occurred for the wild horse and burro advocacy that should not go unrecognized.

Upfront a surprise gift was granted to us on the 14th with the ruling from the 9th District Court of Appeals which pounced on the fact that Laura Leigh’s First Amendment appeal was validated and will be sent back to the Reno, NV courtroom as her complaint was not moot and the local circuit Judge may not have best protected her free press rights under the First Amendment.

Although the case is being sent back and the same local judge, again, make the same ruling the 9th District made a very serious dent in the BLM’s worn-out and tired “mootness” defense.  In fact, they shot it so full of holes it looks like a piece of Swiss Cheese and we at the Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) are going to put a bur the size of a bowling ball under the BLM’s saddle over this from this day forward.  In other words, the BLM got caught with their pants down, again.

Another Valentine’s gift for the horses was the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) agreement to cancel its plans to capture and remove 198 wild horses living in the Monte Cristo Wild Horse Territory (WHT) in eastern Nevada in exchange for being dismissed as a defendant from the federal lawsuit filed by the Cloud Foundation, Western Watersheds Project and the AWHPC.  That is a double barrel victory to say the very least.

But we won’t stop there; likewise on the 14th the Wild Horse Freedom Federation received their determination letter and approval from the United States Internal Review Service to be legally classified as a 501(c)3 non-profit.  Since its inception seven months ago WHFF has been a registered non-profit corporation with the state of Texas but it has taken over seven months for the documentation to be received from the IRS.  All donations to WHFF, retroactive back to June of 2011, are officially tax deductible.  Not only was the documentation received on the 14th but our tax return was promptly prepared and mailed on the 14th to verify our transparency, honesty and dedication to both our donors and to the horses for whom we are undeniably committed.  Virtually, within a cent or two, all donations go right to our legal fund to pay for the litigation that we are involved with which we should clarify, here.

In the past we have been known as the Habitat for Horses Advisory Council which is still a viable organization and originally funded both the West Douglas Herd case, with the kind help of Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER), and co-funded, along with the ASPCA, the fight to save the North Piceance herd.  The HfHAC is a registered 501(c)4, which is a lobbying organization and donations were not tax deductible hence the need for the development of a (c)3 and WHFF was born.

With the help of FRER Wild Horse Freedom Federation is funding the effort to save the zeroing out of the Colorado West Douglas herd whose plaintiffs include the Cloud Foundation, Front Range Equine Rescue, Habitat for Horses and several individual plaintiffs.  This litigation has been ongoing and has, likewise, been very costly but to date the West Douglas herd continues to run free thanks to our collective efforts.

WHFF has also funded, with the help of kind public donations, Laura Leigh’s “Humane Case”, exclusively.  A large chunk of the funds came from one private donor who wishes to remain anonymous and the remainder from individual donations.

Likewise, the current appeal case for Laura was funded by WHFF with the inclusion of WHFF’s attorney, Bruce Wagman, sitting in to assist Gordon Cowan.  The Valentine gift from the 9th was greatly appreciated.

Also, if I may wax personal for a moment, the 13th was found to be my personal birthday as the numbers continue to mount I fret over the vast, but unrealized, accumulation of years.  So this year there was a different twist…I actually was in the air, crossing the International Dateline, when my birthday occurred, i.e. I boarded a plane in San Francisco on Monday morning and landed in Beijing China on Tuesday night the 14th…now how weird is that.  So in my young and undeveloped mind it is as if my birthday never occurred and I have not aged a year.  Am I correct in that assumption?  It didn’t happen for me as I stepped into a time machine; in fact I think I might be able to subtract a year, correct?

And finally, on the 14th, my wife Terry and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary…of course I was not there but do you think for a moment that she did not receive a bouquet of roses?  (My mamma taught me well)  I am not a stupid man; we were married one day after my birthday and on Valentine’s Day so that yours truly would never be found guilty of forgetting his wedding anniversary.  I don’t know what you mares think of that but my male associates think that I am a genius.  If I EVER forget our anniversary then I truly deserve to be shot and buried on the back forty as I don’t deserve to breathe the air that the rest of you do.  I am good to go.

So for the wrap-up of the week; it’s been great and most of it has happened only because of the astute attentiveness and generosity of the wild horse and burro advocacy; you guys.  YOU made it happen…not the birthday or wedding but the other stuff.  Please, take a moment and bask in the rightful warm glow of success and pat yourselves on the back for a job well done.  Breathe deep and enjoy as we have a lot of work to do in the future with a plan that is coming together and each and every one of you are an indispensable component in the success of saving our equine icons.

It all just goes to prove that “keeping the faith” reaps great benefits.

May the “Force of the Horse©” be with you all and God bless.

BLM Abuse Continues at Nevada Roundup

Press Release from the Cloud Foundation

Wild burros hotshotted during Calico Complex roundup

RENO, Nev. (Dec. 13, 2011) – During the helicopter roundup of wild horses and burros in the Calico Complex of northwestern Nevada last Thursday, Ginger Kathrens, director of the Cloud Foundation, filmed the hotshotting of a group of 10 burros that had been captured and were being loaded into a stock trailer by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) contractors, Sun J Livestock.

“At least one crewmember repeatedly hotshotted the burros while they were in the alleyway and while they were in the trailer,” states Kathrens. “It is ironic that this inhumane treatment occurred on the very day that BLM Director Bob Abbey announced procedures to improve what he referred to as ‘aggressive and rough handling of wild horses.’ I guess someone in BLM forgot to tell the Sun J crew.”

“It is obvious that there is a disconnect between the national BLM office and BLM field personnel,” states Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist who attended two days of the roundup with Kathrens and her assistant, Lauryn Wachs. “Electric cattle prods are barbaric and should not be used on already traumatized wild horses and burros. It can cause a lifelong fear of humans.”

The roundup of both mustangs and burros is currently in progress in the nearly 600,000-acre Calico Complex where BLM is allowing only 572 wild horses and 39 burros.

Kathrens explained the events that led up to the use of the cattle prods on the band of nine adult burros and one foal: “In the afternoon, the helicopter pilot drove 10 burros into the trap site with the help of four mounted riders. A short time later, we heard the pilot radio the ground crew, ‘Can you handle more horses?’ A male voice responded ‘Yeah. Bring them on.’ At that point, everything seemed to go into overdrive. If they could load the burros, the capture corral would be clear for the horses. There was money to be made,” Kathrens adds. “The contractor is paid by the head, so the 5 horses they got in after the burro incident netted them around $1,750.”

Sun J is typically paid $350 for each animal they catch. Advocates have long complained that this payment per head system encourages crews to move too fast and to use any means available to catch more animals.

“The ground crew began to rush, trying to get the burros into the back compartment of a stock trailer that already contained two mustang in the front section.” Kathrens explains.

“That was their first mistake,” states Marjorie Farabee, equine manager of Todd Mission Ranch and TMR Rescue in Plantersville, Texas, and an expert on the handling of burros. “You don’t do things quickly with burros and you have to have enough trailer space for them. They are not flight animals and they push into pressure which is just the opposite response you get with horses.”

Roger Oyler, BLM State Program Lead for Wild Burros and Horses in Arizona agreed, “You have to make it their idea, not yours. You have to have patience.”

“When the burros resisted getting into the trailer, the hotshot came out,” says Kathrens. The HD footage shows a man hanging over the fence near the back of the trailer. He is plunging the prod down into the burros in the alleyway. A few minutes later, he begins jabbing the prod into the back of the trailer where four burros stood facing out.

“If repeated shocks to the faces and bodies of these animals is not inhumane, then what is?” observes Wachs, who attended both the Sun J roundup in northeastern Nevada in January and the Calico roundup last week with Kathrens “BLM has the authority and the responsibility to step in, yet they did not. In this instance they just stood by and watched the torture.”

“Our on-going legal battle with the BLM over this very same issue of ‘humane care’ and handling in the Triple B roundup last summer is about to be ruled on by the U.S. District Court of Nevada,” states R.T. Fitch, president of the Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF). “The agency now has the opportunity to do the right thing and implement appropriate humane procedures, today, or risk waiting until the ruling comes down from the court and such implementation will be mandated by a Federal Judge. Either way, these acts of cruelty need to stop, and stop quickly.”

“Sun J has a history of abuse, yet BLM continues to award contracts to them,” says Kathrens, who filmed the Antelope Complex roundup in eastern Nevada last January and asked the District Attorney of White Pine County to file charges against the BLM and the Sun J crew for running animals to exhaustion. The District Attorney refused to act on the complaint.

“The communication and law enforcement teams during our three days of observation of the Calico roundup were very knowledgeable and helpful,” adds Kathrens. “It’s really too bad that this contractor and those in charge on site make everyone in BLM look bad.”

Links of Interest:

Burros Hotshotted in Calico – Foundation video:

WHE Analysis of BLM Triple B Report:

AP Article on BLM internal review findings:

Exhausted mare collapses at Antelope Complex roundup – Foundation video:

BLM Press Release on internal review:

Congressional Appeal to Stop the Roundups – Foundation video: