Denver, CO (September 10, 2014) – Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit denied an emergency motion to block the Bureau of Land Management”s (BLM) wild horse roundup in the Wyoming Checkerboard. The motion was filed by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom and wild horse photographers Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl.
The one-sentence decision by the Tenth Circuit does not address any of BLM’s admitted violations of the Wild Horse Act and clears the way for the roundup of more than 800 wild horses from public and private lands in the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas. The helicopter capture operation is scheduled to begin this week after being twice delayed by the lawsuit filed by the wild horse preservation groups and advocates on August 1, 2014.
“This ruling allows BLM to blatantly violate multiple federal laws and essentially turns over our public lands to private livestock interests,” said Suzanne Roy, Director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. “It sets a terrible precedent not only for wild horses but also for the responsible management of our public lands by elevating commercial livestock interests over the public interest and federal law.”
“Wild horse families are the unwitting victims of a government agency that is dancing to the tune of private interests on our public lands,” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. “These beautiful, innocent animals are on the brink of losing what they hold most dear – their families and their freedom. And the sad truth is that some will lose their lives.”
“By failing to hold BLM accountable, the court has paved the way for the permanent removal of half of Wyoming’s wild horses and turns on its head the BLM’s legal mandate to protect wild horses,” said Neda DeMayo, President of Return to Freedom. “It is a stinging blow to all citizens concerned with protection of these national icons and the responsible stewardship of our public lands and natural resources.”
“I am saddened and sickened to learn that the interests of private welfare ranchers have been elevated above the value of the lives and freedom of our beautiful wild horses in the Wyoming Red Desert. Some truly precious and essential part of our public lands will be lost forever when they are rounded up and placed in holding pens to live out the rest of their lives,” said Carol Walker of Living Images, renown wild horse photographer, author and Director of Field Operations for Wild Horse Freedom Federation.
“When did it become ok for laws to be broken, made malleable by special interest groups? What does this say about our future? The protection of wildlife and our natural resources is becoming a thing of the past. Soon it will be all too late,” said Kimerlee Curyl, wild horse fine art photographer.
Over 41,000 American citizens signed an AWHPC petition opposing the BLM’s plan to wipe out federally protected wild horses in southern Wyoming. “ “Obviously, the public’s sentiments are solidly in support of wild horse preservation,” concludes Kathrens. “It’s a shame that the government agency charged with protecting wild horses has so little regard for the well-being of the animals and ignores the public’s wishes that they be protected.””
The push to remove the horses is coming from the Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGA), whose 50 members view the mustangs as competition for cheap, taxpayer-subsidized livestock grazing on the public lands in the checkerboard. In 2010, the government invited the RSGA to sue the BLM in order to secure funding for wild horse roundups. Two years later, BLM settled the case by capitulating to rancher demands to eliminate wild horses on a two-million-acre swath of public and private land in southern Wyoming known as the Wyoming Checkerboard.
Even though both the District Court and the Tenth Circuit denied the emergency motions seeking to stop the roundup in the Wyoming Checkerboard, the case will still proceed to merits after the roundup occurs.
For more information on the roundup and the legal action, please see Wyoming Lawsuit
Paula Todd King
The Cloud Foundation