BREAKING NEWS: Court grants Protect Mustangs and Friends of Animals the right to intervene in Wyoming’s anti-wild horse lawsuit

PM Photo WY © Stephaie Thomson

Coalition united against using birth control on underpopulated native species and fights for wild horse freedom

Cheyenne, WY (January 7, 2015)–On Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming granted Protect Mustangs‘ and Friends of Animals (FoA) motion to intervene in the State of Wyoming’s lawsuit against the U.S Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to remove the last remaining wild horses from the state. Wyoming alleges that the BLM has failed to take action on the state’s request to remove “excess” wild horses from the range in Wyoming and seeks the removal of hundreds of wild horses from public lands, where fewer than 2,500 wild horses remain.

“It is critical that FoA and Protect Mustangs are involved in this case,” said Jenni Barnes, attorney for FoA’s Wildlife Law Program, which will represent both organizations in the case. “Both the state and federal government have indicated that they have no interest in preserving wild horses. Now that the court has granted Friends of Animals and Protect Mustangs the right to intervene in the present case, the two advocacy groups can defend the right of wild horses to live freely on our public lands.”

Unlike other wild horse advocacy organizations involved in this case, FoA and Protect Mustangs support the ability of wild horses to live freely, and oppose the use of PZP, the EPA pesticide, and other forms of birth control that are costly and risky to wild horse populations.

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.

“I’m grateful we have the opportunity to champion federally protected wild horses in court,” says Anne Novak executive director of Protect Mustangs. “We will fight to protect America’s wild horses and defend their rights to freedom. Rounding them up or forcing an EPA approved “restricted-use pesticide” on wild mares is an assault on their freedom. It’s a waste of taxpayer dollars because they are underpopulated.”

“We think both Wyoming officials and the BLM treat wild horses like snow removal, so we’re gratified that the court has granted us intervenor status to make the best case for protecting wild horses from the tragedies of roundups, PZP use, and disposal,” states Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals.

FoA and Protect Mustangs oppose all removals of wild horses and believe the appropriate management levels (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 ecological balance in the state.

Novak pointed out that according to the National Academy of Sciences’ 2013 report, there is “no evidence” of overpopulation.

“The truth is wild horses are underpopulated and the BLM’s management level (AML) is ridiculously biased to favor commercial livestock grazing and industry on public land. It’s shameful the State of Wyoming and the BLM are trying to blow away the 1971 Protection Act, which states that wild horses and burros should receive principal, but not exclusive use, of the designated areas for the herds,” Novak said. “Let’s get real. There are more than 400,000 mule deer in Wyoming and less than 2,500 wild horses. Pushing PZP and any other kind of fertility control on wild horses or removing them is dumb. Tourists want to see wild horses and there aren’t enough left in Wyoming.”

“Native wild horses can help prevent wildfires and restore the ecosystem on the Wyoming range,” added Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist, author and the new director of ecology and conservation at Protect Mustangs. “They are an asset that’s being thrown away and that’s gotta stop.”

Protect Mustangs is a nonprofit organization who protects and preserves native and wild horses.


Links of interest™:

Motion to Intervene

Friends of Animals, an international animal protection organization founded in 1957, advocates for the rights of animals, free-living and domestic around the world.

Wyoming sues feds claiming too many horses (AP)

Appropriate Management Level (National Academy of Sciences)

Feds’ cruel roundups

Friends of Animals’ Petition to List Wild Horses as a Native Species:

Livestock grazing (Center for Biological Diversity)

Genetic viability (Wikipedia)

The Horse and Burro as Positively Contributing Returned Natives in North America (Craig Downer)
The Friends of Animals and Protect Mustangs motion to intervene has been granted in Case 2:14-cv-00248-ABJ State of Wyoming v. United States Department of the Interior et al Order. See below.
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