On June 20,2012 in Federal District Court in Reno, Hon. Judge Howard J. McKibben granted part of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) sought against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
A roundup began June 8, 2012 under the management of BLM’s Winnemucca District manager Gene Seidlitz. Within the supporting documents justification process BLM cited a water emergency in the south west portion of the area and utilized that to begin a removal operation in the entire area of wild horses during foaling season as defined by the agency. The agency prohibits this activity during foaling season within BLM’s own protocol in all but emergent situations.
“The ruling reflects that Judge McKibben understands that the agency justified an action and then broadened their discretion to take actions that they had not justified,” said Gordon Cowan, Reno based attorney for Plaintiff Laura Leigh, after the hearing, “there is a clear distinction under law and the Courts ruling was a clear reflection of that distinction.”
“I understand the positive importance of the ruling and recognition of distinct language in the system to begin to attain any accountability within the agency but I am still gravely concerned,” stated Leigh the Founder of Wild Horse Education, “ This agency is well known for pushing boundaries and the very real potential exists that they will continue to push at Jackson until they create another imbalance that can lead to further inappropriate action.”
Leigh is referring to the fact that the agency is limited to using helicopters to roundup wild horses to the scope of the documented emergency in the south of Jackson.
“The agency has targeted 630 animals for removal,” stated Leigh “If they push in the south they will imbalance an area. The right thing to do would be to stop for now as more than 315 horses have been removed from the South and monitor to see if enough pressure has been removed from the range. But is that what we can expect?”
Currently there are no formal use restrictions anywhere within the Jackson Mountain Herd area for any users. The area had livestock grazing and considerable extractive industry.
“If the concept here, according to the law is fair and equitable use,” Leigh said, “How can there be an emergency of such magnitude that it requires running newborn foals in the desert heat during the most fragile time of their lives, if no other use has a restriction?”
Map of population survey Jackson MTN. BLM: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blmnevada/7345498354/