Informal blog post: There appears to be a lot of confusion as to the current state of litigation that we are engaged in. This post is intended to make an attempt to clarify some of the misconceptions.
First Owyhee is not over. BLM created a ten year authority to remove wild horses from the Owyhee Complex, five HMA’s. The decision deals with the “Complex” in a fashion that permits authority for periodic removals within the Complex. Two initial phases, Little Owyhee and Owyhee, have been completed. Three other HMA’s have removals scheduled for as early as July 2013, with BLM returning to all areas (every couple of years) over the life of the decision record.
First misconception is what the suit addresses. The suit addresses inhumane treatment and the inaccurate determination of “excess” in the ten year plan. The suit addresses ten years of operations in the complex, not just the 50 horses removed from the Owyhee HMA.
After trying everything possible to address issues of handling during the first phase, including significant letters and calls from the public, the second phase of Owyhee commenced without change. The announcement was made on the third of January, that on the fourth of January, they would begin without any recognition of the significance of the issues at hand.
We crafted a complaint and filed the next morning, Friday the fourth. We then filed an Emergency Motion for aTemporary Restraining Order later that day and it was granted by Judge Miranda Du to hold the “status quo” until a hearing.
The crafting of the Complaint and TRO Motion were a non-stop, beat the clock, effort. Declarations and documents needed preparation as well as the crafting of each legal document had to be done to the best of our ability under a real time crunch. Coming back out of Owyhee I had suffered hypothermia and over Christmas my horse had impaction colic that required days of care. The tension within the advocate community was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
After the TRO was granted the more in-depth Motion for Preliminary Injunction needed to be filed prior to the hearing for the TRO. Another few days were spent crafting declarations, finding supporting declarants and crafting that Motion. It was filed at 3 am the day of the hearing for the TRO.
The TRO hearing went much longer than most of the hearings experienced in the past for a Motion like this. The court paid careful attention and allowed BLM to present Alan Shepard as a “witness,” (even though Mr. Shepard was not present at the roundup nor had he reviewed any of the video tape provided to the court).
BLM pleaded a financial hardship of $20,000 a day to simply hold 39 horses. (Think about that declared cost and then think about what it costs the tax payers to operate a roundup that carries no standard of humane care of a protected American resource?)
The court allowed the operation (that was predominantly a trap treat and release operation) to continue but was seriously concerned about humane care and issued very specific language that addressed the documentation shown to the court and granted the motion in part.
The BLM had 15 days to reply to the Preliminary Injunction motion. We have received that reply and are working on our answer. After the answer is on file the court will set a hearing date. Remember… this is to the ten year EA plan for the Complex.
The issues we are addressing are inhumane treatment and inaccuracy of determining excess (AML) within each area prior to removal. BLM clearly states they have no formal data at all on movement within the Complex. (An example of omission/lack of data is the report on BLM not “tracking” cattle impacts to public land. An issue where insignificant populations of wild horses are blamed for significant impact: http://yubanet.com/usa/BLM-Says-It-Cannot-Track-Cattle-on-Its-Lands.php#.UQX9KXMzJl0)
We still have a hearing on the Preliminary Injunction and the underlying Complaint. This is NOT over.
We did not reach our funding goal to create the documents and file for Owyhee but we proceeded anyway… as we often do and scramble to “duct tape” the effort together. We have no fancy website, we have no paid staff, we have no high priced attorney (we have a horse lover, Gordon Cowan), we have no airplane flights or rental vehicles, we have no office or expensive camera equipment. We have a small dedicated group of people that give their time, blood and tears, to learn jobs they never thought they would need to do in order to protect our American Treasures, the wild horses and burros. We try very hard and we may make a mistake, now and again, but we are doing our very best.
In the next couple of days I will write a synopsis and update you on the activity in both the Triple B case (won a TRO and Injunctive relief and incorporates a win at Jackson Mountain toward enforcement of “foaling season”) and the “Press Freedom” case that won on Appeal in the Ninth circuit and is still active.
There has been much misinformation spread about this work.
In this day and age we have an expectation of “instant gratification.” But that expectation is
not realistic. This work is a marathon, not a sprint. The Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act took two decades to bring to fruition. In that effort the federal government took over the management of, and recognized the importance of, our wild horses and burros.
Today we are attempting to create an accountability to that recognition. We are building a new road to change.
We need your support to achieve that goal.