Group Lawsuit Filed to Stop Destruction of Colorado Mustang Herd

Suit cites BLM’s violations of four Congressional Acts

New York City, NY (October 7, 2010)— A case filed today against Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar in federal court aims to stop the elimination of wild horses from Colorado’s North Piceance herd area. Plaintiffs Habitat for Horses (HfH), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), The Cloud Foundation(TCF), Toni Moore and Dr. Don Moore challenge the BLM’s ongoing illegal treatment of wild horses residing on public lands and it’s intention to completely remove all wild horses from this area beginning October 11, 2010.

The Plaintiffs’ attorneys, Bruce Wagman (Schiff Hardin) and Valerie Stanley, are asking the court for an injunction to stop BLM from removing any of these wild horses pending a complete judicial review of the BLM’s conduct. The complaint cites four counts and violations committed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM): violation of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Information Quality Actand the Federal Land Policy Management Act. The suit has been brought against BLM Director Robert Abbey and Field Manager of the Colorado White River Field Office Kent Walter, in addition to Secretary Salazar.

“The BLM’s ‘shoot from the hip’ policy of indiscriminately destroying and removing long standing wild horse herds has to come to an end,” says R.T. Fitch, Volunteer Executive Director of co-supporting organization HfH Advisory Council“Poor accounting, outdated data and disengagement from the reality of the range is the hallmark of the BLM’s business plan. They must be stopped.”

On September 10th, 2010 the White River Field office of the BLM issued its final decision to completely and permanently eliminate the herd of wild horses which has lived in partnership with the natural environment in the Herd Area for centuries.

BLM and other public agencies have eliminated over a third of wild horse herds  designated for protection by Congress in 1971,” explains Cloud Foundation Volunteer Executive Director, Ginger Kathrens. “Colorado has only a few hundred wild horses remaining and the destruction of yet another herd is unthinkable—cruel, costly and completely unnecessary. It is a managing to extinction policy that must stop.”

This action is co-funded by HfH Advisory Council and the ASPCA. A suit filed last week to protect the nearby West Douglas wild horse herd has so far resulted in a one-year postponement of that “zeroing out action.” The case remains in court.

The Cloud FoundationHfH Advisory CouncilASPCA and over 200 other organizations and tens of thousands of members of the public continue to call for an immediate moratorium on BLM wild horse and burro roundups. To date the BLM has not changed course and plans to roundup and remove a total of 3,295 wild horses and burros before the end of the year. Currently, nearly 40,000 wild horses and burros are held in pens and pastures at taxpayer expense.