By THE CLOUD FOUNDATION
To The Desert Independent
October 5, 2016
CHEYENNE, Wyoming – On Tuesday, October 4, The Cloud Foundation (TCF), the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), Return to Freedom, and photographers Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl filed suit in U.S. District in Wyoming against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), challenging the agency’s decision to conduct another wild horse roundup in the Wyoming Checkerboard in the southern part of the state. The wild horse advocates are represented by Bill Eubanks of the public interest environmental law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks LLP.
The lawsuit is the latest chapter in an ongoing legal battle against over the BLM’s plan to eradicate wild horses from a two million acre area of public and private land at the request of the Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGA). The RSGA owns or leases the private land blocks in the Checkerboard and views wild horses as competition for taxpayer subsidized livestock grazing on the public lands in the area.
On September 19, 2016 the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on the plaintiffs’ appeal of a lawsuit challenging the 2014 BLM Checkerboard roundup in which 1,260 wild horses were rounded up by helicopters and removed from the range. At issue in both cases is the legality of the BLM’s reliance on a request from private landowners to remove wild horses from private lands as an excuse to eradicate them from the public lands in the area as well.
"It doesn't speak well of BLM, when the agency jumps the gun while the jury is, literally, still out on this issue," states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. "Until the Checkerboard lands are consolidated into large blocks of private and public lands, this controversy will continue."
“The BLM is turning over control of more than one million acres of public land to private grazing interests that want wild horses eradicated from the range. This sets a terrible precedent that jeopardizes the safety and future of wild horses across the West,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of AWHPC.
“The BLM’s concession to wipe out wild horses in Wyoming is not only illegal, but a blatant slap in the face to the majority of Americans who want to enjoy wild horses on our public lands,” said Neda DeMayo, CEO of Return to Freedom. “We’re committed to upholding the law and protecting our wild horses and public lands from special interests who monopolize the resources there.”
"The BLM once again shows blatant disregard for both legal statutes and the wild horses in its care. We should not have to fight to protect our wild horses from the BLM," said Carol Walker, who has extensively observed and photographed the wild horses in the Wyoming Checkerboard.
The latest lawsuit challenges the BLM’s decision to round up an estimated 550 wild horses from the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas beginning on October 18. The plaintiffs will seek an injunction to prevent the BLM from beginning the roundup until the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the initial lawsuit.