Because we follow them on Twitter, The US Fish and Wildlife Service sent an email they were “back on the job” now that the shut-down is over. To us – it’s not such great news, nor to wild horses, nor wolves, nor anything else that gets in the way of big money interests!
Their PR department and spin doctors do a fantastic job in having folks believe their mission is to protect animals… it’s the furthest thing from the truth!
Even while furloughed, the shady practices continued. Below is an update from The American Wild Horse Preservation, who follows closely (and tries to rescue) the unfortunate horses who are claimed by our Bureau of Land Management and/or our USFWS. How maddening… and our tax dollars fund this!
Despite Gov’t Shutdown U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Sent Hundreds of Horses to Slaughter Middleman
The Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada used the government shutdown as an excuse to cancel public observation of the pens where 413 recently-captured wild horses were being held, but it did not stop Refuge officials from recalling furloughed workers to process and ship as many as 250 wild horses to slaughter middleman Stan Palmer (pictured left) in Mississippi.
These horses were unnecessarily rounded up in September. Sadly, since they live on land managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they are not protected by the federal law that protects wild horses and burros on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands.
Our efforts continue to hold Interior Secretary Sally Jewell accountable for dumping these horses into the slaughter pipeline, and to track the fate of the horses so callously sent to Mississippi. For more information please click here … we will continue to keep you updated on this disturbing and evolving situation. We won’t let the Interior Department get away with this and just sweep it under the rug. Stay tuned for future actions on this issue.
- Federal Court Gives Green Light To Wild Horse Lawsuit
District Judge Rejects Interior Dept. Motion to Dismiss Case
Sacramento, Calif. (April 20, 2011) – In a precedent-setting decision, issued today in the United States District Court, Eastern District of California, Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. rejected the U.S. Department of Interior’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the roundup and removal of nearly 1,579 wild horses and 159 burros from the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA) in northeastern California last year.
Judge England also ruled that the plaintiffs – animal protection organization In Defense of Animals (IDA), ecologist Chad Hanson, Ph.D., wild horse sanctuary founder Barbara Clarke, DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary, local resident and wild horse enthusiast Linda Hay – have standing to challenge the action and that the case is not moot, despite the fact that the roundup has already taken place. In past wild horse roundup litigation, courts have dismissed claims as moot because the roundups had already concluded, never ruling on the merits on the case.
However, In Defense of Animals et al. vs. Interior Department et al., headed by pro bono legal counsel Rachel Fazio, outlines specific remedies and the ongoing harm plaintiffs suffer from Twin Peaks mustangs being held in captivity in government long-term holding facilities – facilities that the plaintiffs allege are illegal. Fazio argued in her briefs that the case was not moot, in part because the Interior Department could return captured horses to the range.
“The American Mustang is a native wildlife species; few people realize that the western United States is actually the evolutionary birthplace of the horse,” said Rachel Fazio, legal counsel for plaintiffs. “This suit seeks to ensure that, in accordance with the laws of Congress, this majestic species is protected as wild and free-roaming, safe from illegal interference by the BLM and immune to the pressures of the livestock industry and other commercial interests that wish to exploit our public lands.”
Plaintiffs in the litigation include ecologist Dr. Chad Hanson, a researcher at the University of California at Davis and author of numerous scientific studies, Barbara Clarke, wild horse expert and director of the 2,000-acre DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary in Northeastern California, the DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary itself, ecologist Dr. Chad Hanson, Linda Hay, a local resident who has visited and enjoyed the Twin Peaks horses for the past thirty years, and animal protection organization In Defense of Animals.
“We may finally have a court address the merits of a case challenging wild horse roundups and not dismiss it on technicalities,” said Eric Kleiman, Research Director for In Defense of Animals. “This is a groundbreaking legal decision that could lead to America’s wild horses finally having their day in court.”
In addition, the plaintiffs have appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge England’s denial last year of a preliminary injunction to halt the Twin Peaks roundup. The remedy of returning horses to the range was also a critical issue of discussion at a hearing before the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Twin Peaks horses have been scattered across the country at Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holding facilities, and untold numbers have perished while in captivity.
Plaintiffs have revisited the Twin Peaks area and report difficulty locating wild horses to view in the aftermath of the roundup.
Between August and September 2010 – the hottest months of the year – the BLM removed 1,579 wild horses and 159 burros from the HMA. The roundup was a devastating blow to California’s wild horse and burro population, removing more than one-third of California’s entire mustang and burro population which is estimated to be only approximately 5,000 throughout the entire state. The Twin Peaks HMA encompasses 798,000 acres of public land, yet the BLM allows just 448 to 758 wild horses and 72 to 116 burros to reside in the area. Meanwhile, the agency authorizes up to four times more cattle and nearly seven times more sheep to graze this federally-designated wild horse and burro habitat.
Wild horses comprise a small fraction of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by livestock nearly 50 to 1. The BLM has recently increased cattle grazing allotments in areas where wild horses are being removed. Currently the BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public lands of which cattle grazing is allowed on 160 million acres; wild horses are only allowed on 26.6 million acres this land, which must be shared with cattle. The Obama Administration has accelerated the removal of wild horses and burros from public lands in the past year, while Congress just last week approved funding for yet more BLM roundups beginning this July. There are currently more than 36,000 wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities and only 33,000 wild horses free on the range.
In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization located in San Rafael, Calif. dedicated to protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitat through education, outreach, and our hands-on rescue facilities in Mumbai, India, Cameroon, Africa, and rural Mississippi. For more information, visit www.idausa.org.
Deadly Nevada Roundup Kills 12 Mustangs Due to Desert Summer Conditions and Roundup-related Injuries
Reno, Nevada (July 14, 2010) — Today at 5 p.m., Judge Larry R. Hicks of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada issued a restraining order against the Department of Interior stating that “defendants are prohibited from carrying out the gathering of any wild horses from within the Owyhee, Rock Creek and Little Humboldt Herd Management Areas in the northwest of Elko County, Nevada, until further order of the court.” A hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday July 15 at 2:30 p.m.
On July 13, plaintiff Laura Leigh, a Nevada writer and artist, filed a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) seeking an injunction to prevent the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from carrying out the roundup of wild horses in the Owyhee Complex. At an initial July 13 hearing, BLM explained that the gather was previously scheduled and had been postponed to, at the earliest, Sunday July 18.
On the basis of this representation the court scheduled a hearing on Ms. Leigh’s motion for July 15. Today, July 14, at 2:30 p.m., the court was informed that the director of the BLM, Bob Abbey, had authorized an emergency gather of horses to begin at 6 a.m. on Thursday July 15, prior to the court’s scheduled hearing.
Judge Hicks wrote: “Based on this change in the BLM’s position, the court finds it necessary to grant an immediate injunction preventing the Tuscarora gathering of wild horses until further order by the court.”
On Saturday, July 10, 2010, the BLM captured 228 horses in the Tuscarora roundup. The majority of these mustangs — including newborn and young, vulnerable foals were stampeded for eight miles over rugged terrain in summer desert conditions.
BLM reports that the majority of horses were in “good condition.” At least 12 mustangs — averaging under 5 years of age — have died so far, including seven who suffered gruesome deaths in the first 24-hours from dehydration-related causes, including colic, brain swelling and “water intoxication,” which happens when dehydrated horses drink too much water. Another horse was shot to death at the trap site after breaking his leg. Three colts, aged 2 – 4 months, are also among the victims.
The BLM proceeded with the summer roundup despite Ms. Leigh’s lawsuit and a pending legal action filed by Advocates for the West, a public interest law firm, on behalf of In Defense of Animals, both of which warned of danger to the horses of a roundup in the summer heat and so close to foaling season. Ms. Leigh’s lawsuit addresses the removal of the wild horses and the BLM’s violation of her First Amendment rights by prohibiting her from observing and videotaping the roundup operations.
The BLM plans to remove approximately 1200 wild horses, leaving behind just 337 wild horses in the 500,000-acre Owyhee public lands complex.