BLM Violates Own Wild Horse Welfare Standards

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Roundup Incident Sparks Outcry


COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – (Feb. 28,2017) On February 12, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conducted a helicopter roundup of wild horses at Cedar Mountain Herd Management Area (HMA) in Utah.  The Cloud Foundation (TCF) and advocates across the country contend that BLM’s actions at the roundup violate standards in their own Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP).

Eyewitness, Mosie Trewhitt, a professional horse trainer, photographed the incident of a lone pinto mare being driven by a helicopter. The mare could not keep up with her band but the helicopter kept pushing her. Then a wrangler joined the pursuit and both helicopter and wrangler chased the mare on a dead run along a barbed wire fence line. The wrangler tried to rope her numerous times and was finally successful. The mare lurched and flipped over or tried to jump the fence. She became entangled in the barbed wire, and ended up on the other side of the fence.

The mare escaped, dragging the rope behind her and has not been seen since the incident according to BLM who also contend she was uninjured. Trewhitt’s blog, Voices of the Herd, documents the incident with vivid photographs. Fears persist that this mare who appears to be pregnant may be strangled by the rope or suffer from infection due to an obvious gash on her right rear leg.

“I’ve witnessed roundups since 1994 in which inhumane actions were common and often ignored,” states Ginger Kathrens, the Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation and the BLM’s Humane Advocate on the National Wild Horse and Bureau Advisory Board. “To their credit BLM responded to growing concerns about the inhumane treatment of wild horses and burros during and after roundups by creating the CAWP.”

Landmark Appellate Court Decision Stops BLM Wyoming Wild Horse Wipeout

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Ruling Blocks Agency from Treating Over 1 Million Acres of Public Lands as Private Lands in Pursuit of Wild Horse Roundups

Denver, CO (October 14, 2016)  -  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit today issued a landmark decision that stops the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from wiping out wild horses from over one million acres of public land in the Wyoming Checkerboard. The ruling holds that BLM violated two federal laws in its conduct of a 2014 wild horse roundup that removed over 1,263 wild horses from the area, and means that the agency’s plan to round up 500 more horses from the Checkerboard beginning on October 18 is also illegal. Plaintiffs American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom and photographers Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl and their attorney, Bill Eubanks of Meyer, Glitzenstein and Eubanks, are hailing the decision and its precedential implications for wild horse management throughout the western United States.

Major Victory for Wild Horses: Federal Appeals Court Tosses State of Wyoming’s Anti-Mustang Lawsuit

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DENVER, CO (October 11, 2016)  - Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit upheld a lower court’s 
dismissal  of a lawsuit filed by the State of Wyoming against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) seeking the removal of hundreds of wild horses from public lands across the state. The Cloud Foundation (TCF), American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), Return to Freedom, and wild horse photographers Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl were granted the right to intervene in the case and filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against the BLM.

At issue in the case, first filed in 2014, were wild horses in the Antelope Hills, Crooks Mountain, Green Mountain, Lost Creek, Stewart Creek, Fifteenmile and Little Colorado Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in Wyoming.

The Tenth Circuit 
held, “We reject the State’s arguments… the [Wild Horse] Act does not define the phrase “appropriate management level” and thus does not equate it with any requirement to remove excess animals from a particular HMA… the BLM is under no statutory duty to remove animals from the seven HMAs at issue.”

“This is a major precedential victory that will have important implications for federal wild horse policy for decades to come,” said Bill Eubanks of the public interest law firm 
Meyer, Glitzenstein and Eubanks, which represented the intervenors in this case.

Groups file Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order to Block Wyoming Checkerboard Roundup

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BLM intends to round up 500 Wild Horses starting October 18

CHEYENNE, WY. (Oct. 7, 2016) – In an ongoing legal battle to protect Wyoming Checkerboard Wild Horses from BLM roundup, The Cloud Foundation (TCF), The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), Return to Freedom (RTF) and photographers Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl filed a motion for a Preliminary Injunction/Temporary Restraining Order in US District Court in Wyoming yesterday. The BLM has announced that it intends to begin rounding up wild horses in the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas (HMAs) on Oct. 18.

“The BLM is treating over one million acres of public land in the Checkerboard as private land, and is proceeding to eradicate wild horses from these public lands at the request of private livestock grazing interests,” said Bill Eubanks of Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks LLP, which is representing the plaintiffs. “This unprecedented action is illegal and the subject of a pending appeal at the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. We believe the court must enjoin BLM from proceeding with this roundup at least until the Tenth Circuit has ruled on this precedent-setting issue that has implications for wild horses across the West.”

New Lawsuit Filed to Stop BLM Wild Horse Roundup in Wyoming Checkerboard

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Action Comes As Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Considers Legality of BLM Decision to Eradicate Wild Horses from Public Lands in the Area

Cheyenne, WY (October 4, 2016The Cloud Foundation (TCF), the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) ,Return to Freedom, and photographers Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl filed suit yesterday in U.S. District in Wyoming against the 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 lawsui tis 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 (RSGS). 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.

BLM Director Announces No Killing of Wild Horses in Captivity

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Points to TCF/AWHPC Lawsuit as reason for Halting Wild Mare Sterilization

WASHINGTON, DC – (September 15, 2016) - Yesterday, BLM head, Neil Kornze announced that the BLM was not accepting the recommendation from their National Advisory Board to destroy wild horses in holding and to offer wild horses that had been passed over for adoption for sale without limitation.  “This recommendation met a firestorm of outrage across the country and caused our phones to ring off the hook,” states Ginger Kathrens, Humane Advocate on the Advisory Board and Volunteer Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation (TCF), the sole dissenting vote to the board’s recommendation.

Prior to the Sept meeting TCF learned that the BLM decided to drop Wild Mare Sterilization Research Experiments in which wild mares (and fillies as young as 8 months) would be surgically sterilized. BLM Director Kornze indirectly referenced the TCF and AWHPC lawsuitrequesting to be present to view and record the sterilization procedures, as the reason the experiments in Oregon were cancelled.

Other lawsuits and thousands of emails, letters and phone calls from concerned Americans played a significant part in bringing a halt to the experiments as well as halting the recommendation to destroy captive wild horses.

Lawsuits & Public Outrage Halt Dangerous BLM Wild Horse Sterilization Experiments

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Washington, DC (September 9, 2016) -  This morning, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) notified The Cloud Foundation (TCF) and the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) that today it cancelled highly controversial sterilization (spaying) experiments on wild mares.

This reversal comes in the wake of massive public opposition and three separate lawsuits, including a Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by TCF and AWHPC, seeking an injunction under the First Amendment of the Constitution to allow them to video record the proceedings.

Responding to BLM’s decision to drop the sterilization research, TCF and AWHPC attorney Nick Lawton of Meyer, Glitzenstein and Eubanks, stated, “the BLM's withdrawal of its invasive sterilization experiments reveals, more than anything else, that the agency knows the public will not accept these inhumane sterilization practices. We sued to protect our clients' First Amendment right to document the BLM's actions and to hold them publicly accountable for their treatment of wild horses. The litigation and advocacy efforts that led up to the lawsuits clearly demonstrate that surgically sterilizing wild horses is not socially acceptable and we are glad the BLM acknowledged this and withdrew the entire Decision Record authorizing the experiments.”  

Ginger Kathrens, TCF Volunteer Executive Director states:

“The sterilization research was a path to destroying wild horses, by destroying the very essence of what makes them wild – their natural behaviors.  Now we must remain vigilant to ensure that the agency does not pursue the 'euthanasia' of wild horses in holding or the castration of wild stallions, and instead works with advocates to develop wide-scale, humane PZP fertility control programs as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences three years ago.”

At the same time as the BLM informed TCF and AWHPC that it was canceling the sterilization research, the BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board passed a resolution urging the “euthanasia” of wild horses currently in government holding facilities. (Currently 45,000 wild horses and burros are held in short- and long-term holding facilities.)

The resolution is the culmination of decades of BLM mismanagement of wild horses and burros and the public rangelands. Livestock has historically degraded public lands and the BLM has created a crisis both on and off the range by continuing to use roundups and removals to manage wild horses and burros instead using humane fertility control, which has been available for nearly 30 years and is recommended by the National Academy of Sciences.

Ginger Kathrens was the sole dissenting vote against the Advisory Board resolution calling for the 'euthanasia' of horses in holding. 

Suzanne Roy, AWHPC Executive Director stated:

“While cancellation of the sterilization experiments is a major victory, Americans will not stand by and allow the killing of tens of thousands of wild horses holding facilities. If the agency thought the public was opposed to sterilization, wait until it sees what happens in response to the proposed mass killing of these American icons." 

On August 15, 2016, TCF and AWHPC filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction to stop the experiments unless the agency allowed public observation and videotaping of the invasive procedures. 

Government lawyers this morning informed the groups that that the agency did not intend to pursue the surgical sterilization of mares at this time, if ever.


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Portland, Oregon (August 15, 2016)  - Two leading wild horse advocacy organizations today filed a lawsuit in Oregon U.S. District Court to uphold their First Amendment right to observe highly controversial and invasive sterilization experiments that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) intends to conduct on federally-protected wild horses at the agency’s Wild Horse Corral Facility in Hines, Oregon. 

The Cloud Foundation and American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, veterinarians and at least one United States Congressman contend that the surgical procedures to be performed by BLM in conjunction with Oregon State University (OSU) are invasive, inhumane, outdated and dangerous, and that the BLM should not be allowed to conduct them behind closed doors.

The BLM has refused to allow any opportunity for media or the public to observe and record these procedures, despite the fact that such observation would further the BLM’s own stated goal of assessing the “social acceptability” of these procedures,” stated the complaint filed by Nick Lawton of Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks LLP, which is representing the groups.  “The BLM’s refusal to allow any access to observe and record these experiments thwarts the important newsgathering objectives that Plaintiffs aim to achieve by observing and documenting the BLM’s treatment of wild horses, and thus violates Plaintiffs’ rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

“It is abundantly clear that the permanent sterilization of mares is completely unnecessary, horribly cruel, and places wild herds at greater risk of genetic failure, ” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of TCF and the Humane Advocate for the BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. “For decades BLM has largely turned its back on humane, reversible infertility vaccines. Now they are opting for invasive procedures, which have no practical application on Western ranges, unless the death of wild mares is an acceptable outcome.”

Advocates Demand Public Observation of Controversial BLM Wild Horse Sterilization Experiments

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Advocates Demand Public Observation of Controversial BLM Wild Horse Sterilization Experiments

Burns, Oregon (July 20, 2016) . Citing the First Amendment, two leading wild horse advocacy organizations have filed a formal request to observe and record controversial surgical procedures to be performed on wild horses at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse Corral Facility in Hines, Oregon. 

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and The Cloud Foundation contend that the surgical procedures to be performed by BLM in conjunction with Oregon State University (OSU) are invasive, inhumane, outdated and dangerous, and that the BLM should not be allowed to conduct them behind closed doors.

BLM and OSU are moving forward with the experiments despite receiving tens of thousands of comments opposing them. 

The groups maintain that since the BLM has stated that a major purpose of the research is to determine “the social acceptability” of the procedures, it’s vital that they be observed and recorded so the public has the opportunity to witness how the federally protected animals subject to the surgeries are being treated.

“Given that these experiments will form the basis for the BLM establishing program-wide policies, public documentation of this project is essential,” wrote attorney Nick Lawton of Meyer, Glitzenstein & Eubanks in an official request letter to the BLM. The prominent public interest law firm is representing the groups in this matter. 

“The public’s right to know what is happening to our nation’s federally protected wild horses on public property is vitally important, particularly since these controversial procedures could become routine practice by BLM,” Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. “We firmly believe that once American citizens and our elected leaders see what the BLM is doing to our federally-protected wild horses, they simply won’t stand for it.” 

"The genetic viability of most wild horse herds is already at risk due to the small herd size at which they are managed. To further endanger herds by permanent sterilization is a formula for genetic disaster," said Ginger Kathrens, Humane Advocate on the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board and Volunteer Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. 

BLM and OSU intend to perform a procedure on wild mares called ovariectomy-by-colpotomy which involves a veterinarian cutting into a mare’s vaginal wall, placing his hand and arm through the vagina into the abdominal cavity, manually locating the ovaries, then severing them with a rod-like chain tool called an ecraseur.  

The surgery puts mares at risk for death from hemorrhage and infection and for evisceration – the protrusion on the bowel through the surgical incision.

75 percent of the mares who will be experimented on will be pregnant, and the procedure will cause many to have abortions.

In wild horses, it’s not possible to provide the same post-surgical care available to domestic animals, or to forcibly restrain their movement after surgery, resulting in a high risk for infection and pain following the procedure. Removing mares’ ovaries will also cause serious behavioral changes, making this an inappropriate management tool for wild herds. 

The groups are asking BLM to respond to its request byJuly 28and, if denied access to observe and record the procedures, will file a suit to protect their First Amendment rights. They are also plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit against the BLM over its plans to convert a wild free-roaming horse population in the Saylor Creek Herd Management Area (HMA) in Idaho into a non-reproducing herd by sterilizing every mare and stallion living there. 

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign is a national wild horse advocacy organization whose grassroots mission is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations. AWHPC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.

The Cloud Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of wild horses and burros on our Western public lands with a focus on protecting Cloud’s herd in the Pryor Mountains of Montana. Cloud is the subject of Foundation founder Ginger Kathrens' groundbreaking PBS/Nature documentaries.

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More information:

AWHPC/TCF First Amendment Demand Letter

The Cloud Foundation Comments

AWHPC Comments/Complaints

Comments of Dr. Don Moore, Veterinarian

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