BLM Aims to Start Wild Horse Roundup Wednesday
From ANIMAL LAW COALITION
Wild horses and burros are supposed to be treated as “components of the public lands”. 16 U.S.C. § 1333(a) The law is clear that “wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death” and entitled to roam free on public lands where they were living at the time the Act was passed in 1971.
Even designated ranges managed under a multiple use concept are to be “devoted principally” to wild horses and burros. The wild horses and burros on these lands are not to be eliminated for cattle or mining or recreation or even secondary to these other uses.
There is no authority for BLM’s “herd management areas” under WFRHBA
The BLM has authorized itself to divide herd areas into “herd management areas”, something not authorized by WFRHBA. 43 CFR 4710.3-1. In this way, with no statutory authority at all, BLM has limited wild horses and burros’ access to thousands of acres that were historically their herd areas.
Neither WFRHBA nor FLPMA authorizes BLM’s multiple use concept for all herd areas
In fact, the statute makes clear that the protections under WFRHBA take precedence. FLPMA, 43 U.S.C. § 1732 (a) Yet, despite this, BLM has issued a regulation that provides “[w]ild horses and burros shall be considered comparably with other resource values in the formulation of land use plans.” 43 C.F.R. §4700.0-6(b).
Limiting BLM’s power – Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition, Inc. v. Salazar
‘[t]he principal problem in maintaining wild horses in the West Douglas Herd Area is a major shift in wild horse grazing use patterns that has occurred since the early 1980’s. …It is probable that intense energy exploration and development occurring in the northern part of the herd area has concentrated use in the south….This change of use has resulted in overgrazing the Texas Creek drainage, and horse use in Missouri and Evacuation Creeks that are not a part of the 1971 herd area…. Accordingly, it is this shift in the West Douglas Herd’s grazing patterns, likely caused by human development, and not overpopulation, that formed the basis for BLM’s decision to remove the West Douglas Herd.’
BLM’s management of the wild horses and burros is now focused on removing them from public lands:
From 1971 through 2007, over 267,000 wild horses and burros were removed from their homes by BLM. In 2001, BLM stepped up removals. According to the Government Accountability Office, “[s]ince then, about 10,600 animals have been removed, on average, per year.” Just since 2001 the BLM has removed over 74,000 wild horses and burros. “BLM has reduced the nationwide population in the wild by about 40 percent since 2000.”
“…once the BLM comes in and gets them out they’re gone.”
Agency spokesman Christopher Joyner said the BLM pushed back the gather “to ensure the courts had time to review the case.”
However, “We plan to proceed with the gather unless told differently” by the courts.
Activists are seeking an injunction to prevent the roundup from beginning before the case is further litigated. A four-hour hearing was held Friday and a federal judge’s ruling is being awaited, said Paula Todd King with the Cloud Foundation, one of the plaintiffs.
The BLM is hoping to remove 167 “excess” horses located within the jurisdiction of the White River Field Office, based in…
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