(Reno, NV) Wild Horse Education (WHE) founder Laura Leigh continued actions againt the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roundups in the Owyhee Complex of northern Nevada. The case temporarily halted the roundup earlier this year and a hearing on the matter lead to strong language against inhumane treatment in an Order issued by Federal Court Judge Miranda Du. Leigh, through her attorney Gordon Cowan, filed a final reply in the matter of Injunctive relief pending hearing before the court.
In light of the orders from this court, and others, the BLM continues to assert they they treat wild horses humanely. In briefs filed on behalf of the BLM by Department of Justice attorney Erik Peterson, all wrongdoing is denied. The brief states the BLM has authority to act through the Secretary of Interior “on the basis of whatever information he has at the time of his decision” as the agency fails to acknowledge other available science, their own lack of data, and a multitude of other issues continually brought to their attention through public comment periods, meetings of boards and attempts at conversation. The brief also states simply that wild horses were not driven through barbed wire at Owyhee and that Plaintiff Leigh’s documentation is “selective.”
“All you have to do is view two videos to determine who is selective in what they show the public,” stated Leigh. “BLM put out a video on the ‘barbed wire’ incident and so did I. My video shows the animals collide and get tangled, BLM’s completely edits out the entire portion of wild horses crashing and falling. It is extremely frustrating to even have to respond to outrageous claims made by BLM.”
In Leigh’s filed reply to the court she states that BLM’s authority to remove animals not addequately defined as “excess,” exceedes the agencies capacity. Therefore they can not legally remove horses from the range. The brief states in part:
When a ten-year EA (environmental assessment) fails to incorporate provisions to conduct further studies based on impacts from activities occurring in the complex earlier in time in the same ten-year process, how can subsequent action be valid? How can the BLM consider what is “excess?” These are important points where, without defined “excess horses,” the defendants have no authority to remove horses. Citation: “Common sense.” (See also, See, 16 USC § 1333 (b)(2)(iv)(B) (as amended in 1978)
“BLM’s ‘witnesses’ make many statements that are easily refuted claiming all horses were handled humanely,” asserted Leigh. “If BLM wants me to bring hours and hours of video to the court, since they same I am selective, I am willing to address their witnesses line by line in video from Owyhee.”
On the first of February the BLM issued a statement “Memorandum” on wild horses and burros concerning access to government handling and humane traeatment. These memos came in the wake of increasing litigation brought by Leigh. Leigh’s litigation has won numerous restraining orders and an Injunction against inhumane treatment by the agency. In another matter the issues of access to wild horses and burros brought a landmark press freedoms decision in the Ninth circuit, in a case still active and heading for hearing later this month.
“These memos from BLM re-state nothing more than the memos that create the ‘status quo’ our wild horses and burros endure on a daily basis,” states Marta Williams, spokesperson for Wild Horse Education. “Wild horses and burros deserve better and so do the American people.”
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