Wyoming to intervene in wild horse roundup lawsuit

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS reports:

Wyo Governor Matt Mead and Interior Secretary Salazar. AP Image.
Wyo. Governor Matt Mead and Interior Secretary Salazar at a March 2011 press conference announcing that Federal land in Wyoming holding roughly 750 million tons of coal will be leased to mining companies. The tracts are the first of more than a dozen coal leases in the region that are to be auctioned off in the next three years, reported the New York Times. AP Image.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Jul. 28, 2011) –- Gov. Matt Mead will oppose a lawsuit filed by environmental groups trying to block the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from proceeding with a plan to round up and castrate hundreds of wild stallions in the southwestern part of the state, his office said Thursday.

Steve Ferrell, policy adviser to Mead, said the state intends to enter the lawsuit to argue that the roundup should proceed to stop the wild horses from hurting rangelands.

The BLM plans to use helicopters to gather nearly 900 wild horses from the White Mountain/Little Colorado herd management areas between Rock Springs and La Barge starting next month. The agency plans to castrate all the stallions it captures and release 177 of them back to the range.

The BLM estimates roughly 1,000 horses are in the area but says there should be no more than 400. Officials say they expect to capture 90 percent of the horses on the 60-mile wide area.

The Western Watersheds Project and American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and others filed the lawsuit in Washington, D.C., this week against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and BLM officials. The groups argue the roundup would violate federal law.

An agency spokeswoman has declined comment on the lawsuit.

“Overabundance of wild horses has impacts on the range,” Ferrell said. “That creates impacts on rangeland use by livestock and habitat use by wildlife. And so these two particular herd management areas are over the appropriate level as defined by BLM now. We’d like to see these two gathers implemented so they can get back into the prescribed population level.”

The state and the BLM entered an agreement in 2003 requiring the federal agency not to allow wild horse populations to exceed what the federal agency determines are appropriate levels. Mead, a rancher, earlier this week said overpopulation of wild horses must not be allowed to hurt rangelands.

“What I am seeking on our public lands is a balance,” Mead had said. “Right now, with the number of wild horses on the range, there is an imbalance. We have a consent decree with the BLM on wild horse management, and we expect the BLM to abide by that decree.”

Jon Marvel of Hailey, Idaho, executive director of the Western Watersheds Project, said his group filed the lawsuit to try to counterbalance what it sees as the traditional behavior of the BLM and western politicians who believe the only legitimate uses of public lands are to support ranching and energy development.

“One of the great ironies of the American West is that politicians like Gov. Mead tend to intervene on the side of public lands ranchers and against wildlife and wildlife habitat, and the interests of the majority of the citizens of Wyoming and the United States,” Marvel said.

Suzanne Roy, campaign director with the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, said she expects attorneys on Friday will ask a federal judge in Washington for a court order blocking the roundup. She said a hearing on the request could come as soon as next week.

“Even though Wyoming advertises its wild horses as a reason for people to come and visit, it’s no surprise that the state is actively supporting efforts to get the wild horses off of public land,” Roy said. “Like the BLM policy, the state’s policy is driven by livestock interests. And it comes at the expense of our wild horses and a lot of other wild animals as well.”

Read online at the Billings Gazette >>

RELATED READING

Federal Lawsuit Filed to Stop BLM Plan to Sterilize Wyoming Wild Horse Herds and Manage for Extinction,” American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, July 25, 2011

Interior Department Announces Unprecedented Plan to Sterilize Wyoming Wild Horse Herds in Violation of Federal Law,” American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, July 24, 2011

Federal Lands in Wyoming Opened to Coal Mining,” New York Times Green Blog, March 23, 2011.

6 thoughts on “Wyoming to intervene in wild horse roundup lawsuit”

  1. Wyoming has these very horses on their tourism brochure. I wonder if they plan to remove them and replace them with cattle.

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  2. So the horses pay the price by being destroyed in favor of the coal companies, This comes as no surprise. The greed displayed here is no surprise either. Once the horses are all gone there will be nothing to stop the gas,oil, coal and others from taking whatever they want. After all the Mustangs were only a small bump in the road anyway, of no consequence. This goes to prove that these public lands are not public lands all, it’s listed like that to make us feel good thinking that we have some control over what happens to them but it appears that’s not the case. This is why every judge that has presided over every lawsuit filed to try to stop the Mustangs removal has sided with the BLM. These judges minds are already made up with behind closed door calls from the BLM the judges are told what the land will be used for and the horses have to go.

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