Tag Archives: BLM

Lawsuit Filed to Stop “Barbaric” BLM Wild Horse Sterilization Experiments

Citing violations of the U.S. Constitution and three federal laws, an alliance of wild horse protection and animal welfare advocates filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Portland. The groups seek to enjoin the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from proceeding with controversial and dangerous surgical experiments to remove the ovaries of wild mares at BLM’s Wild Horse Corrals in Hines, Oregon.

The complaint was filed on behalf of The Cloud Foundation (TCF) and its executive director Ginger Kathrens, who is also the Humane Advocate on the BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board; the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC); the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI); and wildlife photographer Carol Walker, who is also a Director of Field Documentation for the Wild Horse Freedom Federation, by Nick Lawton of the public interest law firm Meyer, Glitzenstein and Eubanks LLP.

A key demand of the legal action is the right to meaningful public observation and video recording of the experiments to improve public awareness of how the BLM is treating these federally protected wild horses and help the public inform BLM that this inhumane form of sterilization is not socially acceptable.

“To date, the BLM has refused to allow a meaningful opportunity for media or the public to observe and record these procedures,” said Nick Lawton of Meyer, Glitzenstein and Eubanks. “The BLM’s refusal to allow meaningful access to observe and record these experiments thwarts the important newsgathering objectives that Plaintiffs aim to achieve by observing and documenting the BLM’s treatment of wild horses, and thus violates Plaintiffs’ rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

The legal action also alleges that the experiments, which involve performing an outdated surgical procedure called ovariectomy via colpotomy (a blind surgery in which a veterinarian inserts his arm into a mares’ abdominal cavity through an incision in the vaginal wall, manually locates the ovaries, then twists, severs and removes them using a rod like tool with a chain on the end) are unscientific, inhumane, and dangerous, and will result in pain, suffering, and potentially life-threatening complications for wild mares.

Video of the procedure, which has been called “barbaric” by equine veterinarians, can be seen here.

This is the BLM’s second attempt to conduct research on the surgical removal of the ovaries of wild mares. In 2016, AWHC and TCF sued to uphold their First Amendment right to observe the experiments, a major objective of which was to determine the social acceptability of the procedure. The BLM cancelled the experiments, which it intended to conduct in partnership with Oregon State University — instead of providing public observation.

In its renewed attempt to conduct the research this year, the BLM dropped the objective of determining social acceptability in order to avoid providing meaningful observation. Instead, the BLM is offering limited observation through the doorway of a room adjacent to the surgical suite on a first-come, first-served basis with no independent veterinary observation provided.

When the agency re-released the sterilization research proposal, the BLM announced that it would be conducting the experiments in conjunction with Colorado State University (CSU). The University was to provide expertise in monitoring and assessing the welfare impacts of the surgeries on the wild mares. However, in August, CSU withdrew from the project. Instead of finding another academic institution with expertise in animal welfare monitoring and assessment, the BLM dropped CSU’s scientific observation of animal welfare from its study design.

Then, on September 13, 2018, the BLM announced that it was moving forward with the spay feasibility study despite opposition from the public and veterinarians, a warning from the National Academy of Sciences that the procedure was “inadvisable” due to health risks, and after two major research institutions – CSU and OSU – ended their affiliations with the project.

As soon as next month, the BLM plans to start rounding up 100 percent of the wild horses in the Warm Springs Herd Management Area in southeastern Oregon. An estimated 685 horses will be permanently removed and another 100 mares will be surgically sterilized. The experiments carry a high risk of mortality from bleeding, infection and evisceration (fatal protrusion of bowel through the surgical incision) and will subject pregnant mares to risk of miscarriage and associated complications. (More details on the BLM’s plan can be found here.)

“It is unconscionable to conduct invasive and dangerous surgeries on wild mares, ripping their ovaries out with a chain, destroying their fetus, then returning them out into a dirt corral with little to zero pain management before releasing them into the wild,” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation and the Humane Advisor on the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. “This is a rare, last ditch operation in the world of domestic mares. I would hope we, as a society, are beyond this kind of cruelty, particularly when humane, safe, and scientific alternatives to control wild horse reproduction have existed for decades.”

Contact: Lisa Friday, Director of Communications
lisa@thecloudfoundation.org| 804-389-8218

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
www.thecloudfoundation.org

BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Council to Meet Oct. 9-11 in Salt Lake City

Photo: Ginger Kathrens – Humane Advocate on National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.

Come Out and Show Your Support for Our Wild Horses and Burros

BLM has announced that the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board will be meeting October 9-11 at the Courtyard Marriott in Salt Lake City Downtown. As a member of the board, TCF’s Executive Director Ginger Kathrens will be in attendance. Please consider attending this meeting if you can to show your support for our wild horses and burros as well as for Ginger as she does her best to stand up for them in her capacity as the Humane Advocate on the board.

Even if you can’t attend, BLM will be accepting written public comment until October 2nd. Written comments and statements must be mailed to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, National Wild Horse and Burro Program, Attention: Dorothea Boothe WO-260, 20 M Street SE, Room 2134LM, Washington, DC 20003, or emailed to: whbadvisoryboard@blm.gov by October 2, 2018, in order for the Board to consider them at the October meeting. Please include “Advisory Board Comment” in the subject line of the email.

A public comment period will be held on Thursday, October 11, 2018 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (MDT). There will also be a field tour from 7am to noon on Tuesday, October 9th of the Onaqui Horse Herd Management Area. (The field tour is open to limited public attendance with advanced sign-up on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendees must provide for their own transportation (high-clearance vehicle recommended) and personal needs. Field tour attendees will depart from the Courtyard Marriott at 7:00 a.m. To sign up, contact Dorothea Boothe by email at dboothe@blm.gov by September 28, 2018.)

For more details on the meeting, please refer to the full BLM notice linked here.

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
www.thecloudfoundation.org

BLM Backs Down on Removing Horses from Pryor Mountain

Thank you from Rio (left) (Garay & Jacinta), Quahneah (right) (Baja & Washakie).

There will be no removal of young wild horses from the West’s most famous wild horse herd this year!  Like Cloud, we did not back down. He would have been proud of all of you who contributed to this victory. So, thank you from some of the horses whose freedom you protected.

Your donations made it possible for us to hire an outstanding law firm and to make a compelling case. (Read Ginger’s declaration.) And it didn’t hurt to have the expertise of those of you who read the documents and pointed out deficiencies in BLM’s Environmental Assessment and Record of Decision. Thanks to you all!

We hope that this victory for the Pryor Wild Horse Herd (read judge’s ruling) might help to protect other small herds in the West, many of whom are managed at disastrously low levels — below the genetic minimums of 150-200 animals.
Happy Trails!
Ginger

The Cloud Foundation is represented in the lawsuit by Katherine A. Meyer and Elizabeth Lewis of the Washington DC public interest firm Meyer, Glitzenstein, and Eubanks.

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
www.thecloudfoundation.org

Cloud Foundation Wins Reprieve for Pryor Wild Horse Herd

Photo: Galaxy’s band and Knight’s band atop the Pryor Mountains, summer 2018.

Temporary Restraining Order Prevents September 2 Trapping and Removal

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – Susan P. Watters, United States District Judge, has ruled in favor of Ginger Kathrens and the Cloud Foundation in their efforts to protect the small Pryor Mountain mustang herd from capture and removal, stating, “Plaintiffs’ application for TRO is GRANTED. Defendants are hereby ENJOINED from conducting the wild horse gather set for September 2, 2018, pending a hearing on Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction.”

“We won,” stated a jubilant Ginger Kathrens, who brought the herd to international prominence with her documentaries about Cloud, a charismatic palomino stallion she documented from the day he was born. “I hope that the TRO and what we believe will be a permanent decision later next month will ensure a lasting future for this unique Spanish herd.”

In her ruling, Judge Waters acknowledged that BLM fell short in managing for both rare genetics and the unusual colors.

The Pryor Mustangs are descended of Crow Indian horses (the range borders reservation lands) and before that, the horses of the Conquistadors. Genetic and color experts have concluded that this is a rare Spanish Colonial herd. Their range is located on the Montana/Wyoming border east of Yellowstone National Park. Kathrens, who began her journey with wild horses in 1994, was ridiculed in the Government’s brief for her repeated efforts to protect the Pryor Herd. “I hope this is a turning point for America’s beleaguered wild horse herds that have been so cruelly treated and that the BLM will finally adopt humane methods of management that take into account the essential need for family structures and the basic right to live in freedom as the Wild Horse and Burro Act intended,” Kathrens said.

In her decision to grant the TRO, Judge Watters states: “BLM argues that one removal action will not result in the permanent loss of genetic diversity of the Pryor Herd.… This conclusion is contrary to the evidence before the court. Extinction of a bloodline or phenotype is, by its nature, loss of genetic diversity. And extinction, meaning forever, is certainly a long duration. This court finds that Plaintiffs have established a likelihood of irreparable harm absent a TRO.”

“We could not have brought this suit without a high level of confidence in our donors.” Kathrens continued. “Cloud fans are loyal to wild horses and understand that maintaining the family structure and genetic strength are the essentials to living wild.”

2018 is the 50th Anniversary of the creation of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, the first nationally designated area established to provide a home for free-roaming horses. “What a grand way to celebrate!” Ginger Kathrens concludes.

The hearing in Billings, MT is set for September 28 at 9:30 am.

The Cloud Foundation is being represented in the lawsuit by Katherine A. Meyer and Elizabeth Lewis of the Washington DC public interest firm Meyer, Glitzenstein, and Eubanks.

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
www.thecloudfoundation.org

Pryor Herd Legal Action Update, from Ginger Kathrens

Hopi, her daughter Quintasket, and Demure. Quintasket is targeted for removal. Pic: Kristen Collett, 2017.

I am discouraged and shocked by the statements made by the BLM person in charge of managing the Pryor wild horse herd. A bait trap removal is to begin on September 2nd. Our attorneys requested that the operation be delayed so that legal arguments on both sides could be presented before a judge. BLM says they cannot delay because BLM “key personnel would not be available later in September as some have approved leave for vacations that they have already paid for.”

Their lack of caring for animals we love takes my breath away. With their timeline, the young males targeted, Okomi (Firestorm/Jackson), Quanah (Flint/Halcyon), Oak and Parry (Hidalgo and Fresia), Orlando and Quaid (Greta and Garcia), Quasar (Kitalpha/Hickok), and Rio (Jacinta/Garay), would be captured, hauled to the Britton Springs corrals at the base of the mountain, gelded, and offered for sale on September 18th. What’s the hurry, you might ask?

Here is what BLM says about this:  “Government travel in September becomes more problematic as BLM approaches the end of the fiscal year.”  And If the young Pryor mustangs are still there in late October BLM has indicated they will move them to “other BLM facilities with space for short-term holding.” Again, a horrifying lack of concern.

We are fighting as hard as we can for our friends on the mountain. Please do your part. Call your Congressional Reps and Senators and let them know about the needless and cruel measures BLM is planning. And stress not only the intangibles of kindness over cruelty but the economic benefits to the Montana and Wyoming communities who play host to visitors from around the world, visitors anxious to glimpse the unforgettable sight of wild Spanish colonial mustangs in their spectacular mountain stronghold.

Other points you will want to make to your Congressional Representatives and US Senators:

–The wild horses in the Pryor Mountains are a genetically unique, rare Spanish Colonial Herd, descended from the horses of the Conquistadors. Their range is dedicated to wild horses and other wildlife. The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range was the first public wild horse range created in the United States and precedes the passage of the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971.

–Currently, the Pryor Herd is at the same population level as after the 2015 removal: 152. That means there has been no population change in the last 3 yrs., so BLM could easily delay another month or two or even a year rather than hurrying up to meet “vacation” schedules. Despite the facts on population, BLM claims that the population is increasing by 8% annually. This is not true.

Find phone numbers here:
https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

Please call and help our Pryor wild horses today and we also need your help with DONATIONS to our fund on our webpage:
https://www.thecloudfoundation.org/checkout/donate

We can’t let this happen to animals so many of us cherish!

Thanks to each and every one of you for caring so much.

–Ginger Kathrens

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
www.thecloudfoundation.org

BLM Wild Horse & Burro Meeting: CANCELLED

The BLM has officially cancelled their National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board meeting, scheduled for March 27-28 in Salt Lake City.

The BLM failed to give proper notice in the Federal Register, in direct violation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). At their last meeting in Grand Junction, CO, the Advisory Board voted unanimously to meet next in Washington, D.C. Instead, the last-minute meeting was slated for Salt Lake City, Utah, home turf of pro-horse-slaughter Congressman Chris Stewart. The meeting was cancelled after an attorney representing TCF and AWHC sent a letter to BLM charging that the Agency had violated FACA.

Read Our Press Release

Ginger Kathrens
Executive Director
The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
www.thecloudfoundation.org

TCF & AWHC Threatening Legal Action over Upcoming BLM Meeting

An attorney representing The Cloud Foundation and the American Wild Horse Campaign sent a formal letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Acting Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Deputy Director Brian Steed, and Fred Woehl, Chair of the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, threatening legal action over an illegally scheduled National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting.

The March 27-28 meeting clearly violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) requiring 30 days of public notice prior to public meetings.

Read the Press Release & Letter

We are hopeful you will share this information with your networks. As always, we will inform you of any updates regarding this situation. If the meeting does proceed in spite of this obvious violation of FACA, we hope that you will consider attending or tuning in to the livestream. You can learn more about the meeting schedule and attending here.

Ginger Kathrens
Executive Director
The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
www.thecloudfoundation.org

Upcoming Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board Meeting Violates Federal Law

The BLM has announced an upcoming National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board meeting, scheduled for March 27-28th. The problem is that this announcement is in clear violation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) which states meetings must be placed in the Federal Register 30 days in advance. Even if the meeting is regarding an urgent matter, it must be announced 15 days in advance, a deadline the BLM also failed to meet.

Read our press release here.

If the meeting proceeds despite this obvious violation, we hope that you will plan to attend this meeting if possible or tune into the livestream. The meeting will be held in Salt Lake City, UT. You can find out more information about the meeting on the BLM’s website here.

Ginger Kathrens
Executive Director
The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
www.thecloudfoundation.org

BLM Plans to Destroy and Slaughter Three Herds of Wild Horses in the Wyoming Checkerboard

Source:  wildhoofbeats.com

It is a very familiar and unwelcome feeling that I have, writing about the BLM’s plans to round up and remove over 55% of the wild horses in the Wyoming Checkerboard. It seems like just yesterday I was writing about this plan that affects wild horses on 2.4 million acres in Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin. The last roundup was in 2014 when 1263 wild horses were removed from their homes and lands. 14 died during the roundup and over 100 died in short term holding facilities in the four months following the roundup.

This time, however, the situation facing the wild horses in Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Greek Divide Basin is much more dire. The consequences of being rounded up and removed from public lands could not be more serious because right now the BLM is asking Congress to lift the restrictions on killing and slaughtering wild horses, and every one of the 1560 wild horses that the BLM is planning to remove is facing imminent death. The BLM does not consider in its Environmental Assessments what will happen to the wild horses that are removed according to their Proposed Actions. They do not care about the suffering, illnesses and deaths of the horses and they do not care about you and me, the taxpayers, funding a lifetime of each horse being kept in pens, in captivity. It is a wasteful, cruel and insane policy that favors overwhelmingly corrupt livestock interests who get to graze and overgraze their private livestock on our lands, losing millions of dollars on this program each year.

In this Proposed Action, the BLM is pandering to the Rock Springs Grazing Association, which only has 24 members, and whose grazing rights on public land are a privilege, not a right – but they don’t see it that way. Land swaps could have easily solved the problem of the checkerboard of public and private lands, but it is not in their interests to cooperate. They want to control all the land. And they want the horses gone at any cost. But 70% of the land, of the 2.4 million acres in Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin is public land. It should not be managed as if it was all private land, but it is. We stopped the 2016 Checkerboard Roundup because we won an appeal which said that the BLM cannot manage all these lands as if they were private.

This time, we need your help to speak up, write the BLM and demand that they select Alternative C – no roundup or removal.

The BLM should not be allowed to move forward with this roundup only on the basis of an Environmental Assessment.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

By Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation