Cross-posted from the Jackson Hole News & Guide
LARAMIE (AP) — Attorneys argued Monday over whether a wild horse roundup on western Wyoming rangelands last year complied with or violated a federal law that carries different requirements for such roundups depending on whether the horses are on federal or private land.
The roundup of 1,263 horses in late September and early October occurred in the Checkerboard, a vast area of sagebrush high desert named for its square-mile squares of private land interspersed with same-sized squares of public land.
Wild horse advocates led by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign sued over the roundup, alleging it violated laws including the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The act requires the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to maintain wild horses on public land yet round them up from private land when asked to do so by private landowners.
The BLM violated the wild horse act first by failing to determine beforehand the area had too many horses and then by rounding up more horses than their herds’ pre-established minimum population thresholds, attorney William Eubanks told U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal.
Both are requirements under the wild horse act for roundups on public land.
“There are few statutes which are as clear as the provisions in this statute are,” Eubanks said. “BLM is crafting an exception Congress didn’t write.”
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