Mass roundup of Nevada Wild Horses Inhumane and Illegal, Suit Charges
Washington, DC, Nov. 23, 2009 – In Defense of Animals (IDA) and ecologist Craig Downer today filed suit, in the federal U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to stop the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed massive roundup and removal of more than 2,700 wild horses from public lands in Nevada. The roundup, slated to begin in early December, will take virtually every wild horse living in the Calico Complex Herd Management Area in northwestern Nevada. It is by far the largest of any wild horse roundup planned by the BLM for Fiscal Year 2010.
“This suit aims to halt the inherent cruelty of the BLM’s wild horse roundups, which traumatize, injure and kill horses, subvert the will of Congress and are entirely illegal,” said William Spriggs, Esq., a partner at Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney and lead counsel on the law suit. The firm is representing IDA and Mr. Downer on a pro bono basis.
The suit alleges that the BLM plan to utilize helicopters to indiscriminately chase as many as 2,738 of the estimated 3,095 Calico horses into holding pens violates the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, passed unanimously in 1971. The Act designated America’s wild horses and burros as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West,” specifying they “shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death … [and that] to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of public lands.”
“Americans strongly support protecting wild horses on their natural ranges in the West.” Mr. Spriggs continued. “We hope to stop the cruel roundups and mass stockpiling of wild horses and burros in government holding facilities while the Obama Administration crafts a new policy that protects these animals and upholds the will of Congress and the public’s desire to preserve this important part of our national heritage.”
Since 1971, the BLM has removed over 270,000 horses from their Western home ranges and taken away nearly 20 million acres of wild horse habitat on public lands that were protected by Congress as being “necessary to sustain an existing herd or herds of wild horses and burros … and … is devoted principally … to their welfare.” The policy is based on the unsupportable claim that Western ranges cannot sustain wild horses and burros. These animals comprise a tiny fraction of animals grazing the range. An estimated 8 million livestock, but only 37,000 horses and burros, graze on public lands.
Thirty-two thousand wild horses who have been removed from the range are already held in government holding facilities, and the BLM intends to round up 12,000 more horses in FY 2010.