BLM facilities

First Amendment and Wild Horses, Case Moves Forward

Laura Leigh and BLM's Dean Bolstad on a tour of the Broken Arrow facility that has been closed to the public except two contained tours a year. No tour took place in 2013. (photo by Cat Kindsfather).

Laura Leigh and BLM’s Dean Bolstad on a tour of the Broken Arrow facility in 2010 that has since been closed to the public except two contained tours a year. No tour took place in 2013. (photo by Cat Kindsfather).

First Amendment and Wild Horses, Case Moves Forward

(San Francisco, CA) The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has granted a motion to put Wild Horses and the First Amendment on the “fast track” with the court. The case is against the Bureau of Land Management, BLM.

The Order states: “The briefing schedule is amended as follows: the answering brief is now due November 18, 2013; and the optional reply brief is due within 7 days after service of the answering brief. The Clerk shall place this preliminary injunction appeal on the first available calendar upon completion of briefing.”

Laura Leigh, founder of Wild Horse Education and journalist for Horseback Magazine, has been attempting to document wild horses in BLM “hands-on” management of wild horses and burros on the range and in holding facilities. She has found herself in a four year long chess game trying to actually see what happens to wild horses once they are removed from the range.

“This case has been up and down the courts since 2010,” stated Leigh,”I am happy to see that we may finally get a ruling to protect the public’s right to know about government actions and the wild horse and burro program. This has been truly the marathon of my life.”

This case involves documentation that demonstrates how access to witness the hands-on management of wild horses from range through ultimate disposition has been restricted after reports and images were released that portrayed the program in a negative light.

In a recent hearing in this case author Terri Farley stated that when she began to observe roundups to assist her in creating the children’s novels, The Phantom Stallion series, that she had much greater access. “I even dedicated my first book to BLM staff,”she said,”that would not happen today.”

“This was a simple case that involved a journalists right to document and report on wild horses. This is not an issue of National security or a war zone,” said Leigh’s attorney Gordon Cowan, “The case is still a simple issue, the public has a right to know.”

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WildHorseEducation.org is a Nevada non-profit devoted to gaining protection for wild horses and burros from abuse, slaughter and extinction.

Links of interest:

Wild Horse Education Website: http://wildhorseeducation.org

Press Organizations Join Journalist in wild horse case: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2013/09/15/press-organizations-join-wild-horse-journalist-against-blm/

National Press Photographers Association on last the Ninth Circuit ruling of 2012: http://blogs.nppa.org/advocacy/tag/laura-leigh/

Recollections on the case by Gordon Cowan: http://horsebackmagazine.com/hb/archives/14151

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