One year ago the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) attempted to use a small area of purported drought to remove an entire HMA during June… foaling season. The case is ongoing with Briefs due Tuesday. This case, and the Triple B case, address inhumane conduct and inappropriate removals. Keep tabs on our website for news coming soon.
BLM Gathers Another Lawsuit
On June 8, 2012 the Bureau of Land Management began a helicopter roundup of wild horses in the Jackson Mountain area in Northern Nevada. This roundup is occurring during foaling season. The BLM handbook on wild horse and burro management prohibits such activity.
The handbook states in part: “The capture of wild horses by using a helicopter to herd the animals is prohibited during the foaling season, which is defined as six weeks on either side of the peak foaling to assure that young foals are mature enough to be able to remain with their band during gather activities.”
Plaintiff Laura Leigh, founder of Wild Horse Education, has been attempting to dialogue with the Agency prior to the start of the operation and on a daily basis to resolve issues. Attorney Gordon Cowan of Reno Nevada filed the suit yesterday.
“It is with a sad heart that this lawsuit is filed,” states Leigh “the idea that this is foaling season and that extreme care must be taken does not seem to be understood. I saw one of the most egregious unnecessary runs I have ever seen at any roundup occur at Jackson Mountain and the urgency for change in behavior is still not comprehended on the ground.”
Leigh brought suit to last years BLM roundup of the Triple B complex that resulted in the Courts taking action and shutting down the operation. The BLM then did a review of the roundup and found that the alleged misconduct had occurred and they would take corrective action. The agency has to date not implemented any standard of humane care for handling animals.
Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva the ranking member of the House subcommittee of National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, in an interview with the Seattle PI, maintains the agency is conducting the roundup “under cover of an emergency,” but the situation facing horses around the Jackson Mountains does not meet the BLM’s own criteria for an emergency.
“All attempts to gain appropriate action through conversation are met with the statement that we are making baby steps,” said Leigh “but baby steps are not acceptable as the lives of these babies are continually placed in jeopardy.”
BLM Reigned in At Jackson Mountain
On June 20,2012 in Federal District Court in Reno, Hon. Judge Howard J. McKibben granted part of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) sought against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
A roundup began June 8, 2012 under the management of BLM’s Winnemucca District manager Gene Seidlitz. Within the supporting documents justification process BLM cited a water emergency in the south west portion of the area and utilized that to begin a removal operation in the entire area of wild horses during foaling season as defined by the agency. The agency prohibits this activity during foaling season within BLM’s own protocol in all but emergent situations.
“The ruling reflects that Judge McKibben understands that the agency justified an action and then broadened their discretion to take actions that they had not justified,” said Gordon Cowan, Reno based attorney for Plaintiff Laura Leigh, after the hearing, “there is a clear distinction under law and the Courts ruling was a clear reflection of that distinction.”
“I understand the positive importance of the ruling and recognition of distinct language in the system to begin to attain any accountability within the agency but I am still gravely concerned,” stated Leigh the Founder of Wild Horse Education, “ This agency is well known for pushing boundaries and the very real potential exists that they will continue to push at Jackson until they create another imbalance that can lead to further inappropriate action.”
Leigh is referring to the fact that the agency is limited to using helicopters to roundup wild horses to the scope of the documented emergency in the south of Jackson.
“The agency has targeted 630 animals for removal,” stated Leigh “If they push in the south they will imbalance an area. The right thing to do would be to stop for now as more than 315 horses have been removed from the South and monitor to see if enough pressure has been removed from the range. But is that what we can expect?”
Currently there are no formal use restrictions anywhere within the Jackson Mountain Herd area for any users. The area had livestock grazing and considerable extractive industry.
“If the concept here, according to the law is fair and equitable use,” Leigh said, “How can there be an emergency of such magnitude that it requires running newborn foals in the desert heat during the most fragile time of their lives, if no other use has a restriction?”
Map of population survey Jackson MTN. BLM: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blmnevada/7345498354/
Wild Horse Education: http://WildHorseEducation.org
New Zealand Horsetalk interview with Leigh on site: http://horsetalk.co.nz/2012/06/12/watching-these-babies-run-horrifying/
WHE analysis of BLM’s Triple B Review:http://wildhorseeducation.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/analysis_blm_revtb_2011_whe1.pdf