(Reno) On Friday, August 9, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) told the federal court that “nothing” is planned at Snowstorm (Owyhee) after an amended complaint and TRO motion were filed by Laura Leigh, President of Wild Horse Education.
The amended complaint addresses issues begun in the first complaint filed at Owyhee earlier this year to the ten year plan. A hearing is set for Preliminary Injunction in that case later this month. Inhumane conduct and inappropriate removals are further addressed adding information contained in the newly released National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report and fears concerning accountability during bait trapping to handling of animals.
In addition the amended complaint addresses violations of the First Amendment as bait trap operations are set to begin without public observation in the area already contested on inhumane conduct issues.
The TRO asks several forms of relief and can be read here>>> (Doc31-0)MotTROSnowstorm entire amended complaint will be loaded shortly.
BLM immediately responded to the court claiming “nothing” is happening at Snowstorm.
“Plaintiff’s motion should be denied – and any ruling postponed – for one simple reason: there is nothing in this case for the Court to enjoin. Although the news release attached to Plaintiff’s motion does indicate that a gather for the Snowstorm area was planned as of July 19, the release also notes that the gather schedule is “subject to change.” Pl.’s Ex. 2 at 1. In this case, no gather for the Snowstorm complex has been authorized, and no gather-related activities have begun or are even scheduled to begin. Indeed, Defendants anticipate that any emergency gather on the Snowstorm complex would be authorized by a publically available decision and supporting documentation distinct from that challenged by Plaintiff in this case. Absent such a decision, there is no reason whatsoever to believe that the activities and harms alleged by Plaintiff will come to pass by August 10, 2013, and the Court should therefore deny Plaintiff’s motion outright.”
note: BLM is referring to the “gather schedule” posted late July 2013.
Leigh’s Declaration in a response to the court included the following statement:
DECLARATION OF LAURA LEIGH
LAURA LEIGH, plaintiff, declares under penalty of perjury, the following:
1. The Defendants just completed the Kamma Mountain Roundup in the same district as the Snowstorm operation.
2. I was present the day prior to operations and the first day of capture and removal of Kamma horses. I was there August 1 and 2, 2013. The BLM created an observation day there, the day before operations at Kamma (Blue Wing) for the Travel Chanel.
3. We, my assistant Jessica Gardner and those from the Travel Channel, were offered opportunity on that first day (August 1) to observe panels being set up to begin the Snowstorm HMA roundup. This offer was provided by Mark Turney (BLM public relations), John Neill (BLM “IC” or incident commander) and Melanie Mirati who was waiting in Snowstorm for us.
4. I was informed at that time that it would take about a week to acclimate horses to be rounded up at Snowstorm, to the panels and that the contractor had been chosen, and removals would begin as soon as horses acclimated.
5. This interview with BLM can be confirmed by Travel Channel producers and cameramen and may even be available on video.
6. It is my sincere belief that BLM intends to remove horses at any time, based on my conversations with them (above).
7. No public comment period will be given. BLM need only put out a press release and take horses following the finalizing of the ten-year EA back in November 2012.
8. I am informed and believe the roundups at Snowstorm could begin any day.
So we pose a question to you: If BLM chose the contractor and set panels August 1, do you think the BLM is removing horses from Snowstorm? Are they telling the court the truth?
It appears that at least for this weekend, the wild horses at Snowstorm may be safe from removal. Or are they?
Please note that the removal planned by Forest Service of horses from Ft. McDermitt is just to the West of Owyhee. That removal has been “postponed” awaiting further discussion. It is interesting that the contractor assigned the bait trap at Owyhee id the same doing the helicopter removal of McDermitt. OH wait a minute… BLM just told the Judge that nothing is planned for Snowstorm (Owyhee). This might get very interesting. We will keep you updated.
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