For Immediate Release
Jenni Barnes, staff attorney, FoA’s Wildlife Law Program 720.949.7791; firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Harris, Director, Wildlife Law Program; 720.949.7791; email@example.com
Anne Novak, Executive Director, Protect Mustangs; 415.531.8454; firstname.lastname@example.org
Protect Mustangs & Friends of Animals intervene after Wyoming sues feds to reduce number of wild horses
Underpopulated national treasures at risk of being wiped out.
Cheyenne, WY (December 17, 2014)—Protect Mustangs based in California and Friends of Animals (FoA) based in Connecticut have filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the State of Wyoming against the United States Department of Interior and the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to get even more wild horses removed from the state. The State of Wyoming alleges that the federal respondents have failed to take action on the state’s request to remove “excess” wild horses from the range in Wyoming.
“We feel compelled to intervene because the BLM isn’t protecting America’s wild horses and burros the way they should,” says Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs. “BLM’s new wipe-out plan is to complain their hands are tied and then invite states and other land-grabbers to sue them to roundup wild horses—under false claims of overpopulation. This subterfuge must be stopped.”
“In September, BLM proceeded to remove 1,263 wild horses from the Wyoming range, which reduced populations in the affected areas to below their Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs),” said Jenni Barnes, staff attorney for FoA’s Wildlife Law Program. “I am appalled at Wyoming’s attempt to remove even more wild horses from our public lands. We all have a right to be involved in decisions about our public lands, yet it appears that Wyoming is trying to bypass this process and make a side deal with BLM to eradicate wild horses. Friends of Animals will not just stand by while this happens and we are intervening to protect the freedom of the last remaining wild horses in the state.”
FoA and Protect Mustangs, both non-profit animal advocacy organizations, and their members, have long-standing involvement in conserving wild horses in the western United States generally, and have specific conservation, academic, educational and recreational interests in wild horses in Wyoming.
The organizations are concerned that the BLM has shown a willingness to settle actions seeking to force the removal of wild horses in Wyoming. For instance, this past summer, when Rock Springs Grazing Association filed a lawsuit against the BLM to force it to remove all wild horses from the Checkerboard area, a mix of federal and private land that runs along an old railroad route across southern Wyoming, BLM did not advocate for wild horse conservation. Instead BLM entered a consent decree with the plaintiffs in which BLM agreed to remove all wild horses from the Checkerboard area.
“BLM’s ridiculously biased ‘appropriate management level’ always favors commercial livestock grazing and the extractive industry over wild horses and burros on public land,” explains Novak. “The State of Wyoming and the BLM are trying to blow away the 1971 Protection Act wherein wild horses and burros should receive primary but not exclusive use of designated areas on public land. Just follow the money to understand why they don’t like wild horses.”
Priscilla Feral, President of Friends of Animals states, “When wild horses don’t seem useful to the BLM, they’re resented. Rounded up. Sterilized. Killed or otherwise displaced. In contrast, cows and sheep owned by large corporations and hobby ranchers are seen as having a dollar value, so ranchers are relieved from having to compete over water and grasslands with horses. Since horses are not hamburgers, Wyoming and the BLM want them gone. People don’t want this madness anymore.”
FoA and Protect Mustangs oppose all removals of wild horses and believe the AMLs set for the Herd Management Areas in Wyoming are too low, outdated and do not accurately reflect the number of wild horses that are needed to maintain genetic viability to prevent extinction and to create a thriving natural ecological balance in the state.
“The American public is outraged because elected officials aren’t doing anything to stop cruel roundups and sterilization experiments on our native wild horses,” says Novak. “It’s disgusting and shameful. Risky drugs like PZP and other forms of sterilization are a sham at this point because there aren’t enough wild horses left on millions of acres of public land.”
Novak pointed out that according to the National Academy of Sciences’ 2013 report, there is “no evidence” of overpopulation.
“Wild horses must be protected in Wyoming,” states Craig Downer, wildlife biologist based in Nevada, author and member of Protect Mustangs. “They restore the ecosystem as a deeply rooted native in North America with a unique niche that helps other species thrive.”
Links of interest™:
Wyoming sues feds claiming too many horses (AP) http://www.sfgate.com/news/science/article/Wyoming-sues-feds-claiming-too-many-wild-horses-5943755.php
Appropriate Management Level (National Academy of Sciences) http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13511&page=195
Feds’ cruel roundups https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF49csCB9qM
Livestock grazing (Center for Biological Diversity) http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/public_lands/grazing/
Genetic viability (Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_viability
The Horse and Burro as Positively Contributing Returned Natives in North America (Craig Downer) http://www.sciencepublishinggroup.com/journal/paperinfo.aspx?journalid=118&doi=10.11648/j.ajls.20140201.12
Friends of Animals, an international animal protection organization founded in 1957, advocates for the rights of animals, free-living and domestic around the world. www.friendsofanimals.org
Protect Mustangs is a nonprofit organization who protects and preserves native and wild horses. www.ProtectMustangs.org