Monday, August 4, 2014

Barring a lawsuit, 800 wild horses to be rounded up in Wyoming

Posted By on Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 2:18 PM

click to enlarge Rosellen Westerhoff's "Running with Cloud," now on display at Cottonwood.
  • Rosellen Westerhoff's "Running with Cloud," now on display at Cottonwood.
In this week's issue, Bret Wright spoke to Ginger Kathrens, executive director of the Cloud Foundation, an advocacy group for wild horses. With Kathrens' help, along with that of gallery owner and artist Tracy Miller, an exhibit devoted to wild horses opened at Cottonwood Center for the Arts.

Kathrens, a local filmmaker whose efforts have appeared on Nature, will also screen her latest installment of a series of documentaries she's made following wild horses in Montana, on Wednesday, Aug. 6, at 7 p.m. at the Tim Gill Center for Public Media (315 E. Costilla St.).

As Kathrens told Wright, wild horses are regularly rounded up by the Bureau of Land Management, due to overpopulation. However, Kathrens and her kind find their methods questionable and their round-up practices cruel.

On Aug. 1, the Cloud Foundation, along with the American Wild Horses Preservation Campaign and Return to Freedom filed a lawsuit in federal court in Wyoming to block the BLM's planned round-up on Aug. 20 to gather 800 horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard area, in the southwestern quadrant of the state. They will be removed permanently.

The suit alleges the BLM violated the National Environmental Protection Act, the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

“The BLM’s decision to move forward without any opportunity for public review or comment on such a drastic action is a blatant slap in the face to the American public and the Democratic process,” Kathrens says in a press release. “Losing these wild horse families so that private livestock interests can continue to make money at taxpayer expense is truly disgusting.”

Linked in the release (below) is an 2013 in-depth article from The Atlantic about this particular population in the Checkerboard, and, how, as the article states, "The Consent Decree reads like a capitulation by the feds. It does nothing to protect the horses or to recognize that the ranchers receive enormous financial benefits from the below-market leasing rates on public land."

Or, to put it more bluntly, how "the Department of the Interior sold out America's wild horses."

Lawsuit Filed to Halt BLM’s Scheduled Wild Horse Roundup on the Wyoming Checkerboard

Scheduled roundup would permanently remove all wild horses on 1.2 million acres.


CHEYENNE, WY (August 1, 2014) – The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), The Cloud Foundation, and Return to Freedom today filed a lawsuit in federal court in Wyoming to block the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from rounding up over 800 wild horses from the Adobe Town, Salt Wells and Divide Basin Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in the southwestern part of the state.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court of Wyoming by the public interest law firm Meyer Glitzenstein and Crystal, alleges that the BLM violated the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (Wild Horse Act), and the Administrative Procedure Act, by authorizing the permanent removal of hundreds of wild horses from public and private lands within these three HMAs, known as the Wyoming Checkerboard. BLM has authorized this large-scale roundup of wild horses from public land in Wyoming without conducting any environmental analysis, without engaging the public during the decision-making process, and without making certain statutorily required determinations under the Wild Horse Act.

“BLM’s plan to roundup over 800 wild horses from Wyoming is an egregious violation of federal law and established procedures for public input,” said Suzanne Roy, AWHPC director. “In proceeding with this roundup, the agency is blatantly placing ranching special interests over the interests of the American public and our federally-protected wild horses on public land.”

“The BLM’s decision to move forward without any opportunity for public review or comment on such a drastic action is a blatant slap in the face to the American public and the Democratic process,” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. “Losing these wild horse families so that private livestock interests can continue to make money at taxpayer expense is truly disgusting.”

“If this roundup is allowed to proceed, it will be the beginning of the end for half of Wyoming’s remaining wild horses,” said Neda DeMayo, founder and president of Return to Freedom. “This is just another complacent surrender of the BLM to pressure from livestock ranchers, a convenient tactic to proceed with wild horse eradication.”

Carol Walker, plaintiff in the case and Wild Horse Freedom Federation board member said,” BLM is primed and ready to annihilate wild horse families in the Adobe Town HMA despite the fact that the vast majority of these horses do not even live in the Checkerboard.” The noted photographer and author went on to say, “the horses would not have a chance if this action goes forward. They’ll be destined to a life of incarceration and the American public will lose an iconic symbol of freedom and independence.”

BLM is justifying its decision by claiming the agency is required under a consent decree with the Rock Springs Grazing Association to conduct this roundup. This consent decree resulted from a lawsuit that the Interior Department invited and then settled by capitulating to the rancher’s demands – the elimination of wild horses from the Wyoming checkerboard. Nothing in that agreement, however, authorizes BLM to violate the multiple federal statutes and regulations that govern the permanent removal of federally protected wild horses from public land.

AWHPC and The Cloud Foundation were intervenors in the Rock Springs Grazing Association litigation that resulted in the Consent Decree, and have been fighting BLM’s implementation of the decree since that time. The groups are asking the court to stop the roundup, which is scheduled to begin on August 20.


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