- BLM Blasted For Proceeding With Deadly-Summer Roundup and Brazenly Ignoring Two Separate Legal Actions Taken To Halt Wild Horse Roundup in Northeastern Nevada’s Owyhee Complex
Seven Deaths on First Day of Roundup Makes This Deadliest Roundup of the Year
Tuscarora, NV (July 12, 2010) – Today, In Defense of Animals (IDA), an international animal protection and rescue organization, is calling for a summer moratorium of all roundups and is blasting the Department of Interior which, despite a federal lawsuit and legal appeal, began a controversial roundup of wild horses in Northeastern Nevada on July 10 which has resulted in seven (7) fatalities and numerous injuries in just the first day of the roundup. BLM has indicated that 228 wild horses were captured. These horses were stampeded with the use of a helicopter over eight miles in the deadly desert summer heat. The majority of deaths are dehydration-related.
“That the BLM refused to even postpone this roundup knowing full well the life-threatening nature of conducting them during the hot summer months in desert country is yet another example of this agency’s unwillingness to change,” said Todd Tucci, Senior Staff Attorney at Advocates for the West, a leading public interest environmental law firm. “Had the BLM done the on-the-range management as Congress intended they would have known the conditions of the horses and the range and would have averted this unnecessary tragedy deliberately inflicted by the BLM. The Interior Department must halt all summer roundups before other horses are subjected to similar inhumane treatment and conditions.”
Because of these preventable deaths, the BLM has temporarily suspended this ill-fated roundup. It is not known when BLM will resume it.
The Owyhee roundup which began only ten days after the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) identified “peak foaling season” (which ends on June 30th) unnecessarily subjects newly-born foals and pregnant mares to life-threatening conditions including the helicopter-created chase, or stampede, of horses for miles over rugged terrain in desert summer temperatures. Nevadan Laura Leigh, a artist and published author, filed a lawsuit to stop the Owyhee Complex roundup in federal court on July 9. The lawsuit outlines the Interior Departments’ lack of legal basis for the roundup and the Department’s lack of public access to view and document the roundup. On July 8, IDA and ecologist Craig Downer, represented by Advocates For the West, a leading conservation group, filed an Appeal and Petition to Stay with the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) regarding the same Owyhee Complex roundup. The Appeal and Petition to Stay further challenges the agency’s determination that the Owyhee Complex horses are “excess” and therefore must be removed, and cited the summer heat and the danger to newborn foals and pregnant mares because of the roundup’s occurring only ten days after peak foaling season had ended. The Appeal and Petition to Stay seeks to postpone the roundup until at least after August 15.
The BLM reports that 228 horses were rounded up on July 10. BLM indiscriminately rounds up wild horses without any regard to age, condition or health — a direct violation of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. This July 10 roundup would include young foals, some of whom may have been born within the last week or so, creating inhumane conditions which would expose the vulnerable youngsters to life-threatening health problems and possibly death. BLM itself acknowledges that “summer gathers pose increased risk of heat stress” and “death can result.” In addition, running young foals can cause a multitude of physical health problems including hoof, skeletal and development issues.
The BLM’s Tuscarora Field Office, despite receiving written opposition from thousands of Americans, decided to move forward with the roundup and removal of approximately 1,200 wild horses from the Owyhee Complex – which includes three herd management areas comprised of 482,000 acres north of Elko in northeastern Nevada. The planned roundup only leaves behind only 337 wild horses on the 753-square-mile area. While severely restricting the number of horses on the Owyhee Complex, the BLM allows private ranchers to graze thousands of cattle in this same area (through livestock allocations).
The BLM plans to roundup and remove approximately 6,000 wild horses in the next four months. Currently there are more wild horses (36,000) in government holding facilities than free on the range (33,000). Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has repeatedly stated the wild horse and burro program is not sustainable given that tens of millions of tax dollars are spent annually on the warehousing of wild horses in government facilities – yet the Secretary continues the same broken cycle of roundup-removal and stockpiling of wild horses contributing to the programs problems. In Defense of Animals continues to work with ecologists, wild horse experts and others to push for on-the-range management of the wild horses and burros as a means to maintain healthy herds and healthy range lands.
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 plans to remove nearly 12,000 wild horses and burros from public lands by October 2010. There are currently more than 36,000 wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities and only 33,000 wild horses free on the range.
Advocates for the West is one of the leading conservation groups working to protect and restore public lands, water, and wildlife in the American West. The non-profit public interest organization is located in Boise, Idaho.
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.
Top U.S. Law Firm Threatens Suit over BLM Wild Horse Roundup in California
Planned Capture of 2,000 Mustangs and Burros Sets Stage For Court Battle Over
Federal Wild Horse Management Program
Washington, DC (June 22, 2010) – Today, the national law firm of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney P.C. (BIR) notified the U.S. Department of Justice that it intends to file suit over the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) proposed roundup and removal of 1,855 wild horses and 210 burros in the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA) located in Northeastern California. The letter was written after extensive public comments on the roundup (available here) were submitted to the BLM by In Defense of Animals (IDA), which also filed suit in federal court last November over the controversial roundup of nearly 2,000 wild horses from the Calico Mountains Complex in northwestern Nevada.
“We maintain the BLM’s practice of removing and warehousing mustangs is illegal and if the BLM does not relent, we intend to prove it in court,” said William J. Spriggs, lead counsel with BIR. “It’s time for the BLM to postpone the scheduled roundups and to begin a dialogue on how to manage these horses on the range as Congress intended. If the Twin Peaks horses are rounded up, the vast majority will end up in zoo-like conditions at government holding facilities – the BLM already has more horses in holding than free on the range.”
“The Department of Interior’s BLM and Minerals Management Service (MMS) have both reneged on their responsibility as stewards of our public lands by giving free reign to interests that exploit public resources for private gain,” Spriggs continued. “In the same way MMS betrayed the public’s trust by allowing oil companies free rein in the Gulf of Mexico, the BLM consistently caters to a small group of ranching interests and other industries that exploit our public lands at the expense of the horses and other wildlife species.”
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s recent appointment of BLM Director Bob Abbey to bring “reform” to the MMS exemplifies this connection. IDA has criticized the move, calling for President Obama to truly “clean house” by firing the “industry-cozy” Abbey and Salazar.
Last week, IDA submitted extensive comments on the BLM’s Preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) for the “Twin Peaks Herd Management Area Wild Horse and Burro Gather Plan.” IDA’s 20 pages of comments blast BLM’s population estimates and include BLM internal records and memos, BLM-funded studies and research plans, a photograph of a crippled wild horse taken by an ex-BLM horse specialist and other damning material demonstrating that the BLM’s proposed roundup is illegal and violates the mandates of the 1971 Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
IDA’s comments are available at https://xxxwww.idausa.org/campaigns/horses/IDA_TwinPeaks.pdf
The BLM intends to remove 80 percent of the horses living in the Twin Peaks HMA, in order to reach an Appropriate Management Level of just 448-785 wild horses and 72-116 burros on the 789,852 acre area. At the same time, BLM authorizes up to four times more cattle than wild horses in Twin Peaks and seven times more sheep than burros. The BLM roundup plans involve the use of helicopters to stampede horses for up to ten miles in the hot summer months – most foals will only be four to five months old. Of the horses rounded up and removed, family members will be separated for life and stallions will be castrated before being sent to long-term holding facilities in the Midwest. The roundup is scheduled to take place during the hot summer months of August and September 2010 – because mule deer hunters had complained that the “nuisance and noise” of the roundup would “dramatically reduce the quality of their hunting experience” in September and October – and is expected to take 45 to 60 days, costing American taxpayers millions of dollars.
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 256 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 plans to remove nearly 12,000 wild horses and burros from public lands by October 2010. There are currently more than 36,000 wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities and only 33,000 wild horses free on the range.
- Salazar Lambasted for Choice of Industry-Cozy Bureaucrat to Reorganize MMS
Bob Abbey’s “Dismal” Leadership at BLM
Bodes Poorly for Reform at Drilling AgencyWashington, DC (May 28, 2010) – Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s pick to bring “reform” to the much-criticized Minerals and Mining Service, Bob Abbey, has for the last 18 months earned a reputation for business as usual and coziness with industry in managing public lands as head of the Bureau of Land Management, In Defense of Animals charged today.
“Abbey’s appointment is a slap in the face to the victims in the Gulf Coast and all Americans concerned about proper and unbiased management of our public lands,” said IDA Research Director Eric Kleiman.
“In the wake of the catastrophic Gulf Oil spill, Abbey’s appointment is another man-made disaster,” continued Kleiman. “Based on his record at the BLM of mismanaging our public resources for the interests of private industry, Bob Abbey should be fired, not promoted.”
Kleiman called Abbey’s 18-month tenure of leading the BLM under Secretary Salazar a “textbook example” of coziness with industry – exactly the same problems at MMS that must be reformed. He said that the Department of Interior regularly issues industry-biased Environmental Assessments that result in the removal of thousands of wild horses.
Kleiman charged that Salazar and Abbey have blatantly mismanaged the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program, continuing Bush Administration policies that have cost tens of millions of tax dollars annually by removing tens of thousands of iconic wild horses from public lands for the benefit of private livestock ranchers and other exploitive commercial industries. Today, there are more wild horses warehoused in costly long-term holding facilities than remain in the wild.
And one of Wyoming’s last desert wildlands, Adobe Town — 200,000 acres of canyons, badlands and wilderness-quality lands — is just one of the latest targets of the Abbey-managed BLM for destructive oil and gas development.
“If President Obama wants to break extractive commercial interests’ stranglehold on the use of our public resources, he needs to clean house at the Department of Interior, starting with Secretary Salazar,” concluded Kleiman. “We call on President Obama to replace Ken Salazar and Bob Abbey to achieve the so-far unfulfilled promise of true reform and accountability at the Department of Interior.”