Championing public comment and wild horses in court


PM Pine Nut 332 90K meme

Pine Nut wild horse roundup is on hold

In response to a lawsuit filed Jan.26 by Friends of Animals (FoA) and Protect Mustangs against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the roundup of wild horses and forced drugging of mares planned by the government agency in the Pine Nut Herd Management Area (HMA) of Nevada has been halted at least until Feb. 17.  The court has set Feb. 9 as the hearing date for FoA and Protect Mustangs to make their preliminary injunction motion.


Links of interest™

Plaintiffs Motion for  Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order  PM Mot. Preliminary Inj._Pine Nut HMA_vfinal-2

Declaration of Cassandra Nuñez: PM Nunez_Decl _Final

Declaration of Craig Downer: PM Downer Decl_Pine Nut Roundup_Final

Declaration of Anne Novak:  Novak Decl _Pine Nut Round-up_signed

Declaration of Nicole Rivard: PM Rivard Decl._Signed_Pine Nut roundup

Complaint filed in court January 26, 2015: PM Complaint_As Filed_Pine Nut

Lawsuit targets Nevada wild horse roundup (USA TODAY)

Jan. 26th Press release: Protect Mustangs & Friends of Animals file lawsuit to stop Pine Nut Mountains roundup:

Wild-horse activists kicked out of federal meeting in Nevada, (Associated Press) went viral:

Activists split on US agency”s plans to treat 250 mares with fertility-control drug in Nevada:

Forum on PZP:

EPA Pesticide fact Sheet for PZP:

Protect Mustangs on Facebook:

ProtectMustangs on Twitter:

Anne Novak on Twitter:

A brief history of wild horses in the news:


ACTION ALERT! USA TODAY Covers the lawsuit to PROTECT the Pine Nut Wild Horses #WildHorseWednesday

© Irma Novak, all rights reserved

© Irma Novak, all rights reserved

Send the USA TODAY article to your Congressional Rep and 2 Senators via email and fax. Tell them there are only 332 Pine Nut wild horses left on 90,000 acres close to Lake Tahoe and Carson City, NV. Ask your elected officials to intervene to PROTECT this federally protected and treasured herd who belongs to all Americans from coast to coast. Make sure they know they are UNDERPOPULATED (only 332 left on the vast range), healthy and loved by the community at large! Stop the Roundup and Stop Forcibly Drugging Native Wild Horses with PZP, Sterilizing them or Experimenting on them!

Here is the article in USA TODAY  Thank you for publishing this!

Find your elected officials here:

We have started an action group on Facebook and you are invited: PROTECT the PINE NUTS WILD HORSES here:

This is just the beginning. JOIN for updates. $5 Membership fees can be sent to via and donation information is here. Thank you for taking action to protect the last remaining wild horses in America.

BREAKING NEWS: Protect Mustangs & Friends of Animals file lawsuit to stop Pine Nut Mountains roundup


Stop the Roundups!


For Immediate Release

Jenni Barnes, staff attorney, FoA’s Wildlife Law Program 720.949.7791;

Mike Harris, Director, Wildlife Law Program; 720.949.7791;

Anne Novak, Executive Director, Protect Mustangs; 415.531.8454;

Protect Mustangs & Friends of Animals file lawsuit to stop Pine Nut Mountains roundup

Advocates push for NEPA to be upheld when BLM snubs public comment

Reno, NV (Jan. 26, 2015)—Protect Mustangs and Friends of Animals (FoA) have filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to stop the round-up and permanent removal of 200 wild horses in the Pine Nut Herd Management Area (HMA) and the round-up of another 132 wild horses so that an estimated 66 mares would be forcibly drugged with the pesticide known as PZP for fertility control. In addition, the groups plan to file a temporary restraining order—asking the judge for an emergency ruling so that the BLM can’t round up any horses or administer PZP until the court has time to hear FoA’s and Protect Mustangs’ case. The roundup is expected to last for 10 days and is slated for late January/early February.

“The BLM abruptly made a decision in December of 2014 to round-up, permanently remove and forcibly administer fertility control drugs on our wild horses. This decision has long-lasting implications for wild horses,” said Jenni Barnes, attorney for FoA’s wildlife law program. “BLM violated the law by excluding the public from this decision and completely failing to consider its impacts. FoA and Protect Mustangs have filed this lawsuit to ensure that BLM does not destroy Nevada’s last remaining wild horses.”

“The American public is outraged elected officials aren’t doing anything to stop cruel roundups and sterilization experiments on our native wild horses,” said Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs. “It’s disgusting and shameful. Risky drugs like PZP and other forms of sterilization are a sham at this point because there aren’t any ‘excess’ wild horses on millions of acres of public land.”

“When wild horses don’t seem useful to the BLM, they’re resented. Rounded up. Sterilized. Killed or otherwise displaced,”said Priscilla Feral, FoA’s president. “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, Nevada and the BLM want them gone. People don’t want this madness anymore.”

The lawsuit states that the defendants did not prepare an Environmental Assessment for the proposed roundup and instead relied on the 2010 environmental assessment for the Clan Alpine, Pilot Mountain and Pine Nut HMA Gather Plan, which does not take into consideration science that shows the negative side effects associated with PZP. Furthermore, the BLM did not solicit public comments. In fact, FoA employees traveled to Nevada on Jan. 22 to participate in a BLM public meeting regarding the Carson City Resource Management Plan, which includes the Pine Nut HMA, but the BLM denied the public the ability to comment. When Edita Birnkrant, FoA’s campaigns director, got up and spoke at the microphone anyways, she was silenced—BLM shut off the microphone and ejected her from the meeting, just like BLM removes wild horses from public land.

“I was infuriated that the BLM dared to hold a ‘public’ meeting yet forbid the public from speaking,” said Edita Birnkrant, FoA’s campaign director. “BLM employees specifically said there would be no discussion of the Pine Nut roundup during the intro to the meeting. After the intro, I took over the microphone to call out the sham of a BLM public meeting that shut out the public. I said that FoA was there to oppose the BLM’s extinction plan for wild horses in Nevada.”

FoA and Protect Mustangs oppose all roundups of wild horses and the use of PZP, which destroy family structure within the herds, and believe the Appropriate Management Levels set for the Herd Management Areas in all states 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.

The groups are adamant the BLM looks beyond data about PZP provided by the Humane Society of the United States, which has a vested interest in PZP as it is the registrant of the pesticide, and Jay Kirkpatrick, the director of the Science and Conservation Center, which produces the active ingredient in PZP. FoA believes the public needs to know there is a conflict of interest when it comes to PZP and it questions the motives of an animal charity pushing a harmful pesticide on wildlife rather than embracing holistic ways to manage public lands.

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

Ranchers scapegoat wild horses because they don’t want to share the public land they lease to graze their livestock. So they bully the Bureau of Land Management to remove wild horses. In Beaver and Iron County, Utah, where wild horses are scapegoated, data shows cows and sheep outnumber wild horses 10.6:1; in Oregon it’s 33:1. And prior to a massive roundup in Wyoming last summer, there were 356,222 cattle, 45,206 sheep, and only 1,912 wild horses. It seems that it’s easier for the BLM to accommodate ranchers and manage wild horses to extinction, than to consider holistic ways to manage our public lands.

“Wild horses need to be protected in Nevada,” said plaintiff Craig Downer, a wildlife ecologist who has studied the Pine Nut herd for decades and author of The Wild Horse Conspiracy. “They restore the ecosystem as a deeply rooted native in North America with a unique niche that helps the other species thrive.”

In his book, Downer, also the director of ecology and conservation for Protect Mustangs, advocates for reserve design , which involves utilizing natural and/or artificial barriers, natural predators, as well as community-involving buffer zones as a better way for BLM to manage public lands. Once available habitat is filled, wild horses, as climax species, would limit their own population as density-dependent controls are triggered.

“The bottom line is the BLM is ignoring the public’s right to be heard about a heinous roundup paid for with tax dollars on public land,” explains Novak. “And that’s just unAmerican.”

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

 Links of interest:

Complaint filed in court January 26, 2015: PM Complaint_As Filed_Pine Nut

Wild-horse activists kicked out of federal meeting in Nevada, (Associated Press) went viral:

Activists split on US agency”s plans to treat 250 mares with fertility-control drug in Nevada:–Wild-Horses-Nevada

Wild Horse Conspiracy by Craig Downer:

EPA Pesticide Fact Sheet for PZP:

Forum on PZP:

Protect Mustangs on Facebook:

ProtectMustangs on Twitter:

Anne Novak on Twitter:

Read this press release online here:

PZP EPA Sterilisant

Outdated 2010 Environmental Assessment proposed to roundup Pine Nut Mt. wild horses in 2015

PM Lennox meme

Read the Environmental Assessment here: PM Pine Nut 2010_EA The information about the impact of PZP on wild horses is found on pages 29-31. 


Here is a BLM “fact sheet” on the Pine Nut Herd


BLM picks their spot to make their case against wild horses on the BLM Pine Nut Mt. tour Friday, January 23, 2015 in the middle of winter.

Take Action: Save 6 wild horse herds BLM wants to wipe out!

PM Craig Downer by Rona Aguilar

Wild horse expert sounds alarm

As the new Director of Ecology and Conservation at Protect Mustangs and a concerned Carson Valley resident, I attended the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) “Carson City District Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) / Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)” meeting at the Spark’s Nugget hotel casino on Tuesday, January 13, from 5 to 7 pm.

I spoke with several BLM officials including John Axtell, the Wild Horse and Burro Specialist for this district, and Leon Thomas, Field Manager for the Sierra Front Field Office. I voiced my concerns that stakeholders who previously gave much input for increased numbers and resources in regard to wild horses were being ignored in the Draft Resource Management Plan.

I heard the overview explanation of the document by Colleen Sievers, RMP Project Lead, and instructions for reviewing it. I had given earlier input during the 2012 Scoping meetings in Carson City, along with many other pro-wild horse stakeholders.

It’s important to note there are two new wilderness designations that have just been passed by Congress for this area: Pine Forest and Wovoka Wilderness Areas.

Wild horses need you more than ever to stand up for them and here’s why:

There are five alternatives presented in the RMP document, one of which is No Action, or status quo, that will include improvements for Sage Grouse survival, but little else. Another is for maximizing resource exploitation that would be disaster for many natural values upon which the long term survival of life depends. Another (Alternative C) is for maximizing conservation of nature, and another is for bringing a so-called balance of these (Alternative E). This is the preferred alternative although it does not allocate enough land, water and forage for native wild horses who are needed to reduce wildfires, restore balance to the ecosystem, and reverse desertification on public land.

The Conservation Alternative would greatly reduce livestock grazing and expand wilderness designations but pro-wild horse stakeholders and native wild horses themselves appear to have been ignored. Wild horses should be regarded as native restorers of these natural ecosystems, but in the BLM’s Draft RMP there are serious errors which imply that they are non-native invasive pests with no value to the ecosystem. This, of course, is false.

In my preliminary view, and pending a more thorough analysis of this document, it’s  outrageous to see that federal officials appear to have completely neglected the wishes of stakeholders favoring wild horses. They unfairly sided with wild horse enemies to zero out herd management areas (HMAs). The BLM’s preferred alternative are plans to zero out six wild horse “herd management areas,” (HMA’s) rendering them “herd areas.” This is a twisting of language by which the original designation of a “herd area” as an area for wild populations of wild horses/burros in perpetuity, now according to BLM means an area where the wild horses/burros have been eliminated, or “zeroed out.”

John Axtell told me that there was not enough forage or water in these areas and that their numbers were too low. However, he conveniently failed to mention how cattle and sheep have been given the great majority of forage allocations in these same areas, or how the BLM has intentionally failed to exercise the wild horses and burros’ Implied Federal Water Rights that come with any major federal act of Congress in order to secure their basic survival requirements.

The areas that the BLM appears to be planning to zero out in the preferred alternative includes some HMA’s north of Reno such as Granite Peak and Flannigan that have been assigned truly ridiculous, low appropriate management levels (AML)—plus or minus 20 or so horses.

The minimum number for a genetically viable herd is 2,500 wild horses, according to the IUCN Species Survival Commission Equid Specialist Group and these levels are even a far cry from the suspect 150 individuals that BLM documents often cite as being genetically viable for a population.

BLM also wants to eliminate the historic Wassuk wild horse herd in the Wassuk HMA just north of Mt. Grant–where Axtell told me about 125 wild horses still survive.

Axtell claimed there was not enough forage for the horses here. I can’t believe this. I have repeatedly visited this wonderful spirited herd of Spanish-type mustangs and over many decades.

Nevadan biologist and teacher Steven Pelligrini studied the Wassuk herd for his Master’s Degree in biology at the University of Nevada-Reno. His thesis was presented to the public and to the Congress in support of the passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, when he went to testify together with Wild Horse Annie and his professor Dr. John Pontrelli of UNR.

The Carson City BLM’s RMP is targeting our wild horses for removal yet it is mandated to protect them. There exists large-scale public support for them both among the local public, nationally and internationally.

We must stand up and fight for the Wassuk wild horses and for the other venerable wild horse herds that are being dishonestly used as scapegoats for abuses attributable to uncaring people.

I noticed that at the meeting leaders of the Toiyabe Sierra Club and long time wild horse enemies, were present, and engaged with the BLM wild horse specialists and other officials. It appears they have been working to undermine the wild horse presence on public lands for many years, and I am very disturbed about this.

In the “Toiyabe Trails” publication that goes out to many thousands as a free quarterly publication, their President, Tina Nappe seems to be given carte blanche to badmouth wild horses, while those who used to be afforded the opportunity to reply, such as myself, no longer are given this basic right, even in the form of a short letter to the editor.

In spite of the horrible news in the RMP, I was urged to make a strong statement concerning my reasons against the proposed “zeroings out”. These would include how the wild horses are not getting fair grazing allocations compared to livestock in their legal areas, failure to develop or fend for watering sources for the animals and illegal fencing prohibiting their “free-roaming” lifestyle, an inherent part of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

Protect Mustangs is calling all wild horse supporters to speak out strongly in an informed and intelligent manner, for the wild horses and burros of the Carson City BLM District. This RMP/EIS revision will govern land use policy for the next 15-20 years and we must not allow it to be a death sentence for the wild horses and burros, which it largely appears to be.

This is the public’s chance to improve the treatment of the wild horses and burros, and we cannot allow another act of subterfuge.

The proposal can be viewed online at and more information can be found here:

Here are some talking points:

1.) Both horse and burro evolution originate and have immense multi-million year duration in North America.

2.) As post-gastric digesters, different from ruminant digesters, the equids truly restore balance to the North American ecosystem. There is a lopsided preponderance of ruminants today, encouraged by established rancher, hunter, and other linked interests.

3.) Natural predators must not continue to be persecuted and eliminated, such as puma and wolf, natural predators of the wild equids.

4.) PZP and other tamperings with basic biology and social structure of wild horses and burros is contrary to the “minimum feasible” management tenet of the WFHBA as stated in Section 3 a. See my 19 points of law on pages xi to xiii of The Wild Horse Conspiracy. See sections on PZP  in the Index as well

5.) Also look up “Pine Nut wild horse herd area” in the Index of my book for more specific information

To be most effective, please make your own personal analysis of the pertinent sections of this document about which you are knowledgeable and/or concerned, especially the wild horses and burros. You can submit your comments electronically by email to:  or by US mail to: BLM Carson City District, Attn: CCD RMP, 5665 Morgan Mill Road, Carson City, NV 89701.

Send a copy of your comments to your two senators and your representative asking them to intervene.

The deadline for these comments is March 27th, 2015. Questions can be addressed to Colleen Sievers, Carson City District RMP Project Lead. Tel. 775-885-6000

Examples of what BLM consider to be substantive and nonsubstantive comments can be found at 

Thank you for standing up for the wild ones!

Craig C. Downer
Wildlife Ecologist
Director of Ecology and Conservation at Protect Mustangs
Author of The Wild Horse Conspiracy
and The Horse and Burro as Positively Contributing Returned Natives in North America (American Journal of Life Science)

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