Written by DENNY WALSH
Cross-posted from The Sacramento Bee
A split federal appellate panel today [August 15, 2011] dismissed activists’ appeal of a Sacramento judge’s refusal to block last year’s roundup and removal of wild horses and burros from their range in northeastern California.
A year ago, U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. denied a request by two nonprofit organizations for an injunction halting the roundup, and a motions panel of the 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied an emergency motion for an injunction.
The lawsuit, spearheaded by In Defense of Animals and Dreamcatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary, is aimed at permanently stopping the U. S. Bureau of Land Management from rounding up, destroying and auctioning off wild horses and burros.
The roundup took place.
“This appeal, therefore, is moot,” ruled 9th Circuit Judges Mary M. Schroeder and Carlos T. Bea.
Circuit Judge Johnnie B. Rawlinson disagreed.
“This would be a different case if the horses (that) were rounded up had all been dispersed,” Rawlinson wrote in a dissent. “But that is not what happened. The horses … are currently being kept in various holding areas throughout the southwestern United States. As easily as the horses were transported out of their natural habitat, they can be returned.
“In this circumstance, relief is available and the request for injunctive relief is not moot.”
The case will now go forward before England on the merits.