Litigation Update

Wild Horse Education has been very busy dealing with wild horse and burro issues. This includes work on some of the active litigation that we are engaged in. In scanning through social media it appears that there is some confusion about the issues currently in federal court.

Each case has a “history.” That history includes the events that lead to filing, filing, Motions granted/denied in the Temporary Restraining Order phase, continued motions and pleadings and on and on. To try to make this post as concise as possible we will link to some of the history instead of reiterating it.  Some of what we are currently working on is as follows:

Young filly heads to water  , Snowstorm (Owyhee) still on the range and needing our help

Young filly heads to water , Snowstorm (Owyhee) still on the range and needing our help

1. The Owyhee Complex case:

This case deals with inhumane treatment, First Amendment issues and removing wild horses without justification.  This case was filed after the first phase of he Owyhee Complex roundup had ended and as the second phase was announced (the roundups operates under a ten-year plan and covers 5 herd management ares). BACKGROUND HERE including roundup, TRO, and what the case covers

Yesterday we had to answer a government Motion to Dismiss this case. This is our filing from last night: (Doc74)OpposMot2Dism To understand this Motion in it’s entirety you need to read the Amended Complaint BLM is trying to get dismissed: (Doc52-1)2ndAmendCompl(Prop)

Owyhee Complex (first phase)

Owyhee Complex (first phase)

In a nutshell BLM basically says they have the authority to remove horses without supporting data for the removals and can do it in any manner that they choose to. BLM claims that the actions are humane citing protocols used for years even those the identical protocols were used while horrific acts were conducted at other roundups and BLM was subjected to a TRO and Preliminary Injunction after a horse was hit with helicopter skids (Triple B) and BLM admitted other conduct did occur that included a horse kicked in the head by a wrangler, horses dragged by the neck, babies hotshot, etc. BLM also claims that their removals are justified even though the National Academy of Sciences says they have no accurate data to support claims and the large removals actually increase population growth rates. BLM then says they need “no data.” That is why this case is still active and we are still devoting time to this effort. This precedent can not stand.

Stallion "Silver King" moments after steeping off a trailer on his way to "rescue"

Stallion “Silver King” moments after steeping off a trailer on his way to “rescue”

2. First Amendment (Silver King)

The background on this case (all the motions, hearings and incidents) spans over 3 and a half years. The case itself, when you stand the stacks of paper together, stand about 4 feet high. The case resulted in a published opinion by the Ninth Circuit (a win) in 2012 that has been cited in First Amendment press freedoms cases beyond wild horses.  The case was joined through Amicus briefing by over 15 press organizations nationwide. There are some links to background on this case HERE: More information including what the suit “asks for” HERE:

This case was ordered into Mediation to attempt to resolve access issues by the Ninth Circuit Court on December 9th, 2013 (after yet another hearing). We are currently engaged in that process.

Cattle watching as wild horses are loaded for shipment to holding facilities

Cattle watching as wild horses are loaded for shipment to holding facilities

3. Filed for Intervener status on the NACO action

On January 27, 2014 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. You can read about our filing HERE:

We are currently awaiting NACO opposition to our request. The BLM has taken “no position,” (neither for nor against) our Motion. 


McDermitt horses at the Fallon livestock auction

McDermitt horses at the Fallon livestock auction (she look familiar?)

Dawn, sweet little one that has lost home and family

Dawn, sweet little one that has lost home and family

To keep this post brief we outlined just three of the projects we are currently engaged in. Our action against Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge managed by USFWS is still “active.” We are awaiting to see if there is any follow through on current investigations by USFWS and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. We are moving efforts forward to assist with impending drought issues. We are working with our rescued horses that include the McDermitt “orphan girls” that were rounded up and sent to slaughter auction before losing their mothers. We have several other projects we are engaged in as well.

We are a bit behind on our correspondence. Please be patient as we try to catch up on emails and requests. ~ Thank you


We need your support now more than ever….


Categories: Legal, Wild Horse Education

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