Featured Roundup: Owyhee Complex (Little Owyhee, Owyhee, Snowstorm, Little Humbolt, Rock Creek)

Posts Added to the “current roundup” page are inserted newest at the top:
Link to BLM “Gather Update page” here: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/wfo/blm_programs/wild_horses_and_burros/Owyhee_Complex_Wild_Horse_Gather_2012.html
 
OWYHEE LITIGATION UPDATE

When a legal case is filed you craft a Complaint that deals with the issue. Then you file a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order or “TRO.” You also file a motion for Preliminary Injunction. SEE EXPLANATION HERE >>> 

CLICK HERE TO DONATE: http://wildhorseeducation.org/donate/

BACKGROUND

Run in sub-freezing temperatures at Owyhee (Leigh)

Run in sub-freezing temperatures at Owyhee (Leigh)

When we are talking about cases involving wild horse and burro issues (particularly issues surrounding handling of animals) writing (and researching) a case, obtaining the temporary restraining order (TRO) and Preliminary Injunction, and gathering and preparing documentation and collecting declarations to support the argument are often done at a frantic pace. As an example, if an issue is documented that raises concern, attempts must be made to address issues through other means first. If those efforts fail, and there is no action made by the erring party at improving the situation, the only option at that point is to address the issues through the courts. Often you find yourselfunder the gun of time. Many operations take place rapidly and you must create your case before the conduct in question ends, e.g. before a particular roundup ends. However, new case law (created in a case carried by  Wild Horse Education (WHE) has effectively demonstrated that conduct is cyclical, and likely to reoccur, as Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roundups repeat in each area in any given time frame.  In addition, BLM can operate on plans that have not been revised to correct the contested actions, as is the case with the Owyhee Complex of roundups in Nevada where BLM is operating on a Record of Decision that spans ten years. Over the span of the execution of the ten year plan, BLM has not revised the plan to correct the issues presented to them through all avenues.

If you have been following the Owyhee case on our WHE Blog, Facebook page and website, you know that WHE was at the first phase of operations in the Owhyee roundup, almost daily, and documented issues that raised serious concern. WHE documented horses being run into barbed wire, excessive and unjustified  hotshot use, foals literally being run to exhaustion, and horse run until they were steaming in extremely cold temperatures. The distances these horses were stampeded  exceeded ten miles. The next scheduled roundups in the Owyhee Complex operation could require stampeding horses at distances as much as twenty five miles to reach the chosen trap location. These are Issues that WHE, and the  public, through a  letter writing campaign, made every possible attempt to rectify.

And as BLM has chosen not to do the entire Complex operation based on the data used to create the decision, they have now created a situation where, as they move operations forward months or years after data is collected, they now can not accurately determine excess animals exceeding their authority under the Act. In other words they can not accurately determine  how many horses they will leave on the range and will likely leave populations in each Herd Management Area (HMA) well below their claimed “Appropriate Management Level,” or AML.”

To read where litigation stands as of March 2013 READ HERE>>>

 
Two Videos from the first half of the current Owyhee Complex roundup in Nevada
 
Judge Orders BLM to handle wild horses humanely at ongoing roundup
Horse flipping over barbed wire at the Owyhee Complex roundup
Horse flipping over barbed wire at the Owyhee Complex roundup

(Reno, NV) Shortly after a hearing ended in a case brought by Wild Horse Education’s founder Laura Leigh and her attorney Gordon Cowan the Honorable Judge Miranda Du issued a restraining order to conduct at the Owyhee Complex wild horse roundup.

The order cites the courts expectations for humane care at BLM operations. A hearing for Injunctive Relief will give parties an opportunity to address issues at the roundup in more depth. The date for the hearing has not been set,

“As an attorney I see a lot of work in order to ensure that treatment of America’s wild horses becomes truly humane in practice, yet this Order from the Honorable Judge Miranda Du shows real promise that the conversation has truly begun.” said attorney Gordon Cowan,  “As a horse owner and lover I simply have a smile on my face.”

“I am in tears. Three years of running this grueling marathon from range to courtroom to gain an honest conversation about the inhumane handling of an American treasure now has the very first, specific language, toward actually gaining the first humane care standard in the history of the Act.” said Laura Leigh, “I am literally in tears.”

~~~

The Order below:

TEMPORARY RESTRAINIG ORDER

The Injunction issued by this Court on January 4, 2013, IS HEREBY LIFTED, in accordance with the following terms:

1. Defendant may conduct the planned wild horse gather and transport at the Owyhee HMA.

2. Defendant must conduct the gather and transport in a humane fashion pursuant to 16 U.S.C. § 1333 (b)(2)(iv)(B) and 43 C.F.R. § 4700.0-5(e)-(f).

3. Defendant cannot use “hot shot”/electric prod treatment on the 14 weanlings it plans to transport.

4. Defendant cannot routinely use “hot shot”/electric prod treatment during the planned gather and transport of the adult horses. Defendant may only use such treatment as necessary to ensure the safety and security of the horses and handlers.

5. Defendant cannot conduct the gather or transport in a manner where the horses are driven through barbed wire fences.

6. Defendant must conduct the gather and transport in a manner ensuring that all foals are able to keep up with the drive, and none are left behind from the herd.

7. To the extent Defendant uses such methods, Defendant cannot conduct the gather or transport in a manner where the horses are treated with rushed and aggressive loading tactics from the trap sites into the trucks.

8. To the extent Defendant uses such methods, Defendant cannot conduct the gather or transport in a manner where the horses are rounded up from unsafe trap locations.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

DATED THIS 10th day of January

~~~~~

These cases, investigations and supporting documentation, are supported solely by Wild Horse Education, a registered Nevada non-profit.  http://wildhorseeducation.org/

Links of interest:

Current video of Owyhee wild horse roundup: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FK6WM1-xmv4

History of the legal battle for humane care: http://wildhorseeducation.org/the-humane-care-suit/short-history-of-the-humane-care-suit/

 
 
Exhausted foal carried limp back to the trap by wrangler. Later the foal had to be carried off the trailer.

Exhausted foal carried limp back to the trap by wrangler. Later the foal had to be carried off the trailer.

 
Federal Judge issues Stop Order to BLM wild horse roundup(Reno, NV) Federal Judge Miranda Du issued an emergency restraining order in a legal action filed in Reno Federal District Court against conduct at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wild horse roundup operation in northern Nevada.The order states: Defendants shall immediately cease cease and halt all wild horse gathers at the Owyhee Complex, including the one currently ongoing at the Owyhee HMA, and the BLM shall not transport horses from the Owyhee HMA, until the court has had an opportunity to hear this matter.The case was filed on behalf of Laura Leigh, founder of Wild Horse Education, by attorney Gordon Cowan of Reno.“To protect America’s wild horses from inhumane conduct represents significant public interest” said Cowan, “as an attorney I am gratified to pursue that interest.”

Over the course of the last two years BLM has been making claims that a policy will be in place or creating operation “memorandums” that are ignored in practice. After a Restraining Order gained by WHE documentation in August of 2011, after a pilot apparently hit a horse with the helicopter skids, BLM did an internal revue that revealed a host of inappropriate conduct. That case is still active in Federal Court with hearings expected early this year.

“I have tried everything I can think of to have a reasonable conversation about addressing these serious issues and the requests are ignored or dismissed,” stated Leigh “It is literal agony watching what I can only classify as a callous disregard for basic welfare go ignored. I felt there was no option but to file further litigation as I have every expectation the conduct will continue at Owyhee for the next decade.”

Run in sub-freezing temperatures at Owyhee (Leigh)
Run in sub-freezing temperatures at Owyhee (Leigh)

At the Owyhee Complex roundup operation that began on November 26, Leigh continued to witness offensive conduct. In court documents Leigh states that inappropriate conduct was observed repeatedly including: routine use of electric cattle prods, wild horses driven through barbed wire, operations in sub-freezing temperatures. In one instance wild horses were documented being driven into a barbed wire fence and four animals became entangled, two literally crashing onto their heads.

“I can tell you that the effort to obtain the documentation and craft these cases is monumental,” Leigh stated “It really does seem insane to have to fight for a humane care standard with an agency tasked by Congress to manage animals humanely. That said, I will sleep better tonight knowing the wild horses at Owyhee are not being stampeded this weekend.”

~~~~~

These cases, investigations and supporting documentation, are supported solely by Wild Horse Education, a registered Nevada non-profit.  With your help we can continue to be their voice!

http://wildhorseeducation.org/donate/

Links of interest:

Current video of Owyhee wild horse roundup: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FK6WM1-xmv4

History of the legal battle for humane care: http://wildhorseeducation.org/the-humane-care-suit/short-history-of-the-humane-care-suit/

 
Complaint filed in Federal Court to Owyhee Complex
 
Day 3 Owyhee 2012
Day 3 Owyhee 2012

 

BLM’s wild horse program faces new allegations of inhumane treatment in Federal Court

(Reno, NV) Today a lawsuit was filed in Reno Federal District Court against conduct at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wild horse roundup operation in northern Nevada. The case was filed by Reno attorney Gordon Cowan for Plaintiff Laura Leigh, founder of Wild Horse Education (WHE), and addresses a ten year removal plan in the Owyhee Complex.

Leigh witnessed the majority of operation days during the first phase of the plan. In court documents Leigh states that inappropriate conduct was observed repeatedly including: routine use of electric cattle prods, wild horses driven through barbed wire, operations in sub-freezing temperatures. In one instance wild horses were documented being driven into a barbed wire fence and four animals became entangled, two literally crashing onto their heads.

In the past forty years BLM, the agency tasked with managing these protected American heritage animals on federal land, has failed to implement any humane treatment standard for animal care and handling.

“I have tried everything I can think of to have a reasonable conversation about addressing these serious issues and the requests are ignored or dismissed,” stated Leigh “It is literal agony watching what I can only classify as a callous disregard for basic welfare go ignored. I felt there was no option but to file further litigation as I have every expectation the conduct will continue at Owyhee for the next decade.”

Over the course of the last two years BLM has been making claims that a policy will be in place or creating operation “memorandums” that are ignored in practice. After a Federal Restraining Order was issued, when a pilot apparently hit a horse with the helicopter skids in August of 2011, BLM did an internal revue that revealed a host of inappropriate conduct. The state of Nevada then issued a memorandum of expectation for conduct. The BLM National office has been promising the public a policy, and giving deadlines for implementation that come and go with no forthcoming policy. Witnesses continue to see no change in handling of wild horses by the agency.

“It is beyond comprehension that our government would continue behavior like this with a symbol of American freedom,” states media spokesperson for WHE Marta Williams, “we will continue to address the outrageous conduct in any way we can until there is an enforceable standard for humane treatment for America’s wild horses and burros.”

~~~~~

These cases, investigations and supporting documentation, are supported solely by Wild Horse Education, a registered Nevada non-profit.  http://wildhorseeducation.org/

Links of interest:

History of the legal battle for humane care: http://wildhorseeducation.org/the-humane-care-suit/short-history-of-the-humane-care-suit/

Owyhee… continues (barbed wire)

Can you see the barbed wire?

note: I am going through video and stills and trying to formulate what to write about.

Let’s start with: Today was not the same as yesterday. Day three and I can see that patience is starting to wear thin.

I am struggling with memory and digital storage for editing. So I am going to give you a series of stills.

If a picture is worth a thousand words… here is an entire volume.

4 horses got tangled in barbed wire as pilot tried to push horses through gate onto the private property where trap was set.

Watch the palomino baby

Watch the palomino baby

After being run into the trap and his family trailered off the range (to leave him alone at the trap) the chopper immediately brings in another band. Baby tried several times to escape.

Alone at the trap

There is no area to access any handling at holding. We were given a brief opportunity to photograph.

I was weaned today. I was also loaded onto trailer with adults.

Please support this work if you can.

We MUST continue to make a stand for a standard of handling. We MUST continue to be a presence at management meetings and we must continue to be their voice in court when needed.

Thank you.

PS. BLM made a “mistake” on the count. Day 1 was 40, not 41. Yesterday was 70. Today was about 60.

Owyhee: Update from the field

Day 2 Owyhee 2012

November 27, second day of operation

To date aprox. 116 horses have been removed from the range: Monday total 41, today about 75 (not official count, no count numbers were given to Public relations each run). Removal target 847 total. Body condition primarily 4 and 5 (Henneke scale).

Access to view loading was adequate, except heavy tarps were used (not black screen shown to public in Denver 2010 BLM workshop).

First run horses came in sweaty and slightly steaming. (Note: Winter of 2010/2011 saw high number of deaths from respiratory illness. Winter had roundup days that began below 20 degrees).

All but the last run showed awareness of pressure. Last run animals were pressured and confused. Loading also showed less pressure than observed in the past. Hopefully ability to observe continues to see if this is an isolated event.

Two injuries noted: Grey with a limp and a young buckskin that appears to have gone through, or into, barbed wire fencing, during last run. (note: animals need to be driven through gates as the trap is located on private property).

Young injured mare (barbed wire?) Owyhee 2012

Two horses escaped the trap: one young mare vaulted the panel, one horse (stallion?) evaded the jute. Both horses were not pursued.

Observation at temporary holding was practically non-extistent. BLM said they would post photographs of injured mare on their site.

Day began at 19 degrees, cloudy and cool. Rain expected for the rest of the week.

Video and further observation reports will be posted.

 Please help us stay on the road. We need to upgrade storage devices, vehicle maintenance and gas. please donate if you can to support our court actions and observations: http://wildhorseeducation.org/mission-statement/donate/

To view BLM’s “about the gather” page go to: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/wfo/blm_programs/wild_horses_and_burros/Owyhee_Complex_Wild_Horse_Gather_2012/About_the_HMA.html

 
 
 
Almost 200,000 miles ago… Owyhee then and nowThe Owyhee roundup of wild horses by the Bureau of Land Management begins today, November 26, 2012. The Record of Decision (ROD) was signed on October 18.

The ROD states: “The Owyhee Complex consists of approximately 1,055,023 total acres, but the gather area consists of approximately 2,047,281 acres, which encompasses additional lands where wild horses are residing outside of the Owyhee Complex.”

Currently the BLM roundup schedule is a bit of a moving target. Space in holding is extremely limited and districts had to compete for a place on the schedule. Snowstorm (HMA), part of this Complex, has been “cancelled” saying that animals were not in declining condition. However Little Owyhee has a roundup of 858 horses with a removal of 544 and Owyhee lists 141 with removal of 50.

How many will BLM actually remove?

It is hard to say. Just a couple of weeks ago the Wassuk roundup was completed. They targeted 500 with 250 to be released and the agency claimed conditions were too bad on the range and released none.

This removal operation begins in just a few hours.

Yet for me Owyhee began in June of 2010, almost 200,000 miles ago.

The Owyhee desert is a vast arid place of sheer classic desert beauty. In the spring and summer months new foals hit the ground. BLM planned a removal operation in the middle of a secluded desert, with a trap situated on private property, closing public land… to begin July 1, 2010.

I had already looked into the eyes of an eight month old Calico colt as he suffered hoof slough (feet falling off) and I was terrified for the babies in that desert.

We filed a lawsuit.

The Judge granted a TRO and we had a hearing. BLM claimed that 75% of the horses would die in three days if the Judge granted my motion to stop the roundup and hear the merits of a foaling season claim. The ink was wet on the document, the first to claim a water emergency, as the day of the hearing.

The Judge on that case allowed BLM to proceed with the roundup but said the land closure was unconstitutional and that BLM needed to do all it could to provide access to document.

A crazy cat and mouse game ensued. In an unprecedented, alleged, emergency situation in the history of the wild horse and burro program, BLM allowed not a single horse to be seen taken from the range. Not one horse was witnessed by the public being driven, trapped or held at Owyhee, not one.

BLM claimed there was no water animals could access in the South fork, a lie. BLM failed to tell the public that it shot horses on the range until the bodies were discovered. BLM failed to tell the Judge their alleged emergency was only in a minute area of the HMA. BLM used a single trap site to roundup the entire HMA, over 30 miles at one point to the trap.

But that location allowed total secrecy. They even went so far as to stop us at a road block to keep us from viewing temporary holding.

What were they hiding?

I went on to craft another case addressing that issue and we won in the Ninth Circuit and the issue of transparency is very much alive today in Federal Court.

BLM only allowed two days of observation in Rock Creek (South Owyhee/Tuscarora). On one day the claimed route, for 75 horses, was over 25 miles and through two fences. A feat they accomplished in one run under 45 minutes

I don’t know what to expect this time…. so you can imagine what is going through my mind.

We are also starting operations on the Winnemucca side. Winnemucca is where Jackson Mountain was this past summer… where again the agency attempted to use a small emergent situation to remove horses, this time during June, throughout the entire HMA.

Jackson Mountain 2012 had an ineffective Appendix added to the Record of Decision for humane handling, lawsuit filed (and won by WHE) to hold the agency accountable to it’s own policy on foaling season

That roundup was horrible. Watching those tiny babies run was heartbreaking knowing that no special protocol was in place to even set boundaries to attempt to ensure their safety.

But this time was different, we stopped them in court and held them to only the portion of actual issue. We had to hold BLM to their own policy.

Owyhee begins again today…. yet for me it began over two years ago….

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Two articles from George Knapp at Owyhee:

http://www.8newsnow.com/story/12842393/i-team-more-horses-die-in-gather-public-not-allowed-to-observe?clienttype=printable

http://www.8newsnow.com/story/12849931/i-team-horse-herds-pulled-from-range-despite-safety-concerns

Excerpt from “Art and Horses”

originally posted on August 2, 2010

You all know the story out in Owyhee.

Two years to plan a gather. Last year grazing leases were reissued and a round up called off.

This year they declare an emergency after a court case was filed. They were out there in May and never declared any such emergency. The day of court they create a document claiming 75% of horses would be dead if the judge granted my order.

Yet they did not tell the judge the alleged emergency was finite.

They then played a cat and mouse game with my First Amendment rights. Not a single horse from the Owyhee HMA was witnessed.

Then they played a game using the same two observation days planned pre-lawsuit to say they were complying with the court.

I saw less than 100 horses rounded up from the 1400 (that’s the number Ken Miller testified to in front of the state Legislature on Friday in Ely).

Here is the first day of activity:

I apologize for the camera shake but I had to shoot through the jute and many of the “observers” were rather inconsiderate of those with cameras and the jute was often pulled on.

If you tube doesn’t work I’ll check bugs later. I have to run……. more work to do.

I forgot to add this map. (too much to do)

Anyway, note fences. Is it possible that the BLM misleads? Or just doesn’t have the information? The guy in the video that says he “hasn’t been up there,” is the field offfice manager.

Map of Rock Creek (Compare to map in video)