Roundups of Wild Horses on Public Lands Stir Controversy, Feature in Documentary Exposé
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit was filed this month against the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for withholding public records from filmmaker James Kleinert. The BLM has been investigating Kleinert and his film company, presumably in retaliation for making documentary films Wild Horses & Renegades, Saving the American Wild Horse, and Wild Horse Spirit, which expose the BLM’s cruel roundups of wild horses on public land and allege corruption within the Department of the Interior. “Roundups” involve herding horses into corrals using helicopters and separating them from their families. The national non-profit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has reason to believe that wild horses corralled by the BLM end up for sale for slaughter in Mexico and Canada. The federal lawsuit was filed September 3, 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. ALDF is providing consulting assistance to Kleinert’s attorney, Daniel J. Stotter.
The lawsuit, Kleinert v. Bureau of Land Management, alleges that the BLM violated its duty under FOIA to provide records documenting the BLM’s investigation of Kleinert and his film company as he filmed roundups over the last decade. The BLM was required to provide all records and respond to this FOIA request within 20 working days of receiving it. The BLM now has 30 days to file a response to Kleinert’s lawsuit.
“Rounding up wild horses from public lands for the sake of private ranchers who want to graze cattle and sheep is outrageous,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The Bureau of Land Management should be protecting wild horses, not virtually guaranteeing their slaughter or targeting filmmakers who expose what’s going on.”