The BLM has agreed to delay the proposed roundups in Wyoming (they were supposed to begin Aug. 20) to allow the court to make a ruling in a lawsuit filed on Aug. 1 by wild horse advocates to block the BLM from rounding up more than 800 wild horses from the Adobe Town, Salt Wells and Divide Basin Herd Management Areas (HMAs) known as the Wyoming Checkerboard.
The lawsuit alleges that the BLM violated multiple federal acts set up to protect wild horses by authorizing the permanent removal of hundreds of wild horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard. BLM made the authorization without conducting any environmental analysis, engaging the public during the decision-making process or making certain statutorily required determinations under the Wild Horse Act.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of The Cloud Foundation and Friends of Animals filing a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list North American wild horses on public lands as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) since the Wild Horse and Burro Act (WHBA), which was passed in 1971, has failed to protect our wild horses. Six states have already lost their wild horse populations-Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
"There are fewer than 41,000 on public lands, where they are supposed to be protected," said Jenni Barnes, staff attorney, FoA's Wildlife Law Program. "The petition states that these few remaining horses are divided into even smaller herds, whose populations are so low that they are susceptible to being wiped out completely by a chance event or change in the environment."
Listing wild horses, which the BLM claims are non-native despite scientific evidence, as either threatened or endangered under the ESA would provide needed regulation to halt further exploitation of this species, particularly roundups removing the animals from their range.
BLM claims that wild horses need to be removed from public lands to protect rangeland health. However the vast majority of public lands is open to livestock grazing, which causes far more damage to the land. In Wyoming, for example, livestock far outnumber wild horses. There are 356,222 cattle; 45,206 sheep; and 1,912 wild horses, within the three HMAs targeted for roundup, according to the BLM's own data.
Most people do not realize that instead of protecting these horses, BLM has stolen and rounded up-forcibly driven off the land and put in holding facilities-more than 200,000 horses since the WHBA was passed. And this is not just an issue of importance to American's living out west. "Everyone's tax dollars contribute to the animal abuse caused by roundups," Barnes said. "In the 2013 fiscal year, BLM spent $4.8 million on gathers and removals and spent $46.2 million on holding costs. A report by the National Academy of Science concluded ‘the continuation of business-as-usual practices will be expensive and unproductive for BLM.'"
From the holding facilities, the horses are not supposed to be sent to slaughter. However, there have been reports that indicate that is what happens when some of them are "adopted." There is also mounting fear, FoA says, that the government will start to kill horses in holding facilities, yet another threat pushing wild horses toward extinction. - See more at: http://friendsofanimals.org/news/2014/august/blm-...