This week the legal actions in federal court for Triple B and Jackson Mountain move forward in Discovery. Leigh and her attorney, Gordon Cowan, continue the actions that began in August of 2011 at the Triple B roundup and then amended in June of 2012 to add Jackson Mountain.
On July 20th the BLM began the Triple B roundup in Ely/Elko Nevada. From the beginning of the operation there were issues with the operation that began the swelling controversy. Ability to observe animals after capture was impeded with “walk arounds” only being given once a week. The first fatalities of the operation were very young foals. One was a palomino that BLM said had defective tendons (any horse breeder knows you don’t run foals because tendon and hoof development varies widely and continues after birth much like the bones in a human skull). The other was a foal that BLM said had a mother that refused to nurse it (observers at the trap say the foal was not paired with it’s mom, told BLM that, but the foal was euthanized as a failure to thrive. The mare BLM paired the foal with was adopted and gave birth in February showing that the observer was likely correct). Temperatures soared and water tubs ran dry. Hotshots were freely used, animals were dragged by ropes and a helicopter actually hit a horse with the skids. All efforts to address these issues with BLM personnel failed and a lawsuit was filed.
That legal action by Laura Leigh, and her attorney Gordon Cowan, gained a Temporary Restraining Order. That order was the first of it’s kind in the history of the WFRH&B Act to conduct.
That action also spurred the Triple B Review. That review had BLM claiming nothing was wrong yet admitting to the alleged conduct. BLM’s Charter for the review team states: “In late August, Laura Leigh filed a lawsuit in Reno District Court alleging animal abuse and inhumane animal treatment among other things. On August 31, 2011 Judge McKibben issued a temporary restraining order to prohibit the use of the helicopter as demonstrated on August 11, 2011 (Laura Leigh video), that appears to strike a horse with the skid or flying the helicopter unreasonably close to a horse during the Triple B Complex gather.”
The Order and the review were unprecedented in the fight for humane handling of wild horses and burros.
The case at that time was held as “moot” and further action was halted.Until Leigh and her attorney overturned that “doctrine” in another case that had won on appeal in the Ninth Circuit. The court was written a letter notifying them of the decision.
In June of 2012 BLM declared a small area of emergency at the Jackson Mountain HMA in Winnemucca NV. They used that small area to push a roundup of the entire HMA to occur in June, during their own prohibited “foaling season.” That operation came after a “Leaders Intent” issued following the Triple B review from the state office outlining expectations for operation. The district watered down that “Intent,” and published their own guidelines for humane handling.
Observations again showed conduct that actually had seasoned observer Laura Leigh in tears. The callous over driving of newborn foals in the extreme desert heat of June had another suit filed. That suit was successful in holding the BLM to only the area of documented emergency and the plans to complete the entire roundup was stalled until July.
The week after the decision on Jackson Mountain the court awarded Leigh a Preliminary Injunction at Triple B based on the case law she and her attorney built in the case that had gone before the Ninth Circuit.
The case went into Discovery heading for a hearing on the underlying case. Documents requested by Leigh have not been provided as BLM filed a motion to dismiss the Jackson Mountain portion of the case saying that the emergency was over and not going to happen again. Leigh was able to show that the last two operations at Jackson were done under “emergency” including hundreds of horses that died in 2007 after the roundup. BLMs motion was denied.
The case goes back into Discovery conference this week.
This case, and two others, are supported solely by Wild Horse Education. We engage in field documentation and conversations to protect wild horses and burros from abuse, slaughter and extinction. “We don’t just take pictures… we act.”