(RENO) Today Wild Horse Education (WHE) President and founder Laura Leigh filed documents requesting court permission to intervene in a legal action aimed at all of Nevada’s wild horse population. The Complaint, brought by the Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) and the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation, makes broad allegations asking for wild horse removals statewide and the destruction of what they call “excess” horses in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) facilities.
“We have to try all that we can to defend wild horses against this suit,” stated Leigh “BLMs lack of proactive action to correct flaws made in historic wild horse management has created a situation where our ‘living symbol of the pioneer spirit’ is again the target of private profiteers because of fictional population numbers that are set as ‘appropriate,’ (or what BLM calls AML) and in many cases were set under direct influence of livestock boards.”
In her Declaration to the court Leigh writes: “The broad claims made in this NACO suit that because the National Academy of Sciences or “NAS,” (that Plaintiff references as the “American Academy of Sciences”) report says there is a lack of data utilized in the BLM program somehow justifies broad scale removal is extremely upsetting for me. The same lack of data was used in determining “AML,” making that number as inaccurate as anything else in the program.”
In 2012 the BLM created drought action plans to deal with issues that were arising on the range. A handful of livestock permittees faced restrictions where the length of time or numbers of animals they could graze on public lands were limited. These restrictions created a domino effect of outrage among Nevada livestock producers, counties and state Department of Agriculture.
Leigh writes: “The NACO suit would have you believe that wild horses are responsible for the restrictions to livestock producers. The only specific example they note to support their claims is of the “Diamond Complex.” The Diamond Complex is a group of wild horse herd management areas located in a three district cluster. It is of note that livestock restrictions were also put into place under the Battle Mountain “Drought Plan” in areas of the district that do not have wild horse populations. Wild horses were not responsible for the restrictions nor the condition of the range. The drought conditions and continued livestock production were.”
The NACO suit not only requests the court to remove all wild horses in populations that exceed the inaccurate “AML” or stray onto “private property, but goes as far as requesting that horses in holding facilities nationwide be destroyed or sold “without limitation,” or to slaughter. The suit cites the 2004 “Burns Amendment” that allowed wild horses to be sold for slaughter for the first time since the 1971 Act to protect wild horses and burros was passed. The Amendment was slipped into an Omnibus spending bill prior to Thanksgiving recess. Americans, and several Congressmen, were surprised the language existed at all in the bill. Funding for BLM to destroy wild horses or sell them for slaughter has been repeatedly denied in subsequent appropriations bills including again in 2014.
“This is ‘true colors’ time,” stated Leigh “all pretense of respect for any other use of public land besides the subsidized use of your public land by the livestock industry is evident in this suit. This suit is retaliation for finally creating valid restriction to livestock use. I have every expectation that tensions will increase as drought conditions repeat this year. It is more than past time for the BLM to begin to admit the mistakes of the past in the wild horse and burro program, stop catering to livestock producers and give wild horses the rangeland and resources they actually need to survive as ‘wild and integral’ before private profiteers destroy what is left of our living symbol of freedom and our public rangeland.”
Wild Horse Education is dedicated to gaining protections for wild horses and burros from abuse, slaughter and extinction.
Wild Horse Education Website: http://wildhorseeducation.org
links of interest:
2012 Diamond Complex Drought Assessment: http://wildhorseeducation.org/2012/07/16/diamond-drought-report-issued-by-whe/
Roundup of wild horses from the Diamond Complex January 2013: http://wildhorseeducation.org/2013/01/30/new-video-from-blm-diamond-wild-horse-roundup/
Nevada Department of Agriculture meeting July 2012 where wild horses are blamed for livestock restrictions: http://wildhorseeducation.org/2012/08/03/ndoa-meeting-and-action-request/
Welfare Ranching: http://wildhorseeducation.org/welfare-ranching/