Judge Denies BLM Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit to Preserve World Famous Wild Horse Herd
Court Declares Challenge to BLM Mismanagement to be “Ripe for Review” Washington D.C. (August 26, 2010)— On August 25th United States District Judge, James S. Gwin, granted a legal request by The Cloud Foundation, Front Range Equine Rescue and photographer/author Carol Walker, to file a Second Amended Complaint against the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) actions in the mismanagement of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses. The ruling allows addition of the United States Forest Service (USFS) to the suit. The Custer National Forest is presently moving forward with building a restrictive boundary fence to prevent the wild horses from accessing crucial current and historical summer grazing lands. Judge Gwin ruled that the Plaintiffs’ claim against the fence is not moot as the fence could be removed or further fence building activities stopped should subsequent legal decisions rule in the Plaintiffs’ favor. Judge Gwin ordered the BLM and USFS to answer the Second Amended Complaint within 30 days.
“BLM’s tactic of completing removals of wild horses and burros from the range in whirlwind fashion and avoiding legal challenges to its underlying management of these animals did not work in this case,” explained Valerie J. Stanley. Attorneys Valerie J. Stanley and Bruce A. Wagman represent the Plaintiffs in this action.
In his decision, Judge Gwin wrote that “[the] government is also incorrect that the Plaintiffs’ claim challenging the 1987 Custer National Forest Plan is time-barred” and found the Cloud Foundation’s legal challenge to BLM’s use of a Categorical Exclusion that BLM uses to avoid analyzing the environmental impacts of the processing of wild horses and burros removed from the range to be “ripe for review because it is a purely legal question fit for judicial review.”
The ruling represents a significant step forward in the Cloud Foundation, Front Range Equine Rescue and Carol Walker’s legal attempts to protect the beloved and historically significant Pryor wild horses. Commonly known as “Cloud’s herd”, the horses are descendents of the horses of the Spanish Conquistadors, the Lewis and Clark expedition and Crow War Ponies.
“We will never give up fighting to preserve this unique herd,” explains Cloud Foundation Director and Emmy award-winning producer, Ginger Kathrens, who has been documenting the Pryor Wild Horses for over 16 years. “They have a right to live free on lands we know they have continuously roamed for centuries.
Attempting to fence them out of their home is unconscionable.”
Kathrens journey with the wild stallion she named Cloud began when he was just hours old. It represents the only on-going documentation of a wild animal from birth in our hemisphere.