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WHE Works, Humane Care

Owyhee

Owyhee

Happy Birthday WHE! As we count down to our fifth year of operations we look back at some of the accomplishments of Wild Horse Education (WHE).

Core to our work is the fight to gain humane treatment of wild horses and burros. Our documentation has been utilized in countless news broadcasts, stories and litigation. One of the milestones of the work of WHE.

Babies run in extreme heat for miles and miles at Triple B

Babies run in extreme heat for miles and miles at Triple B

The story of Humane Care and how it grew.

We were told it was impossible. We were told not to “waste time and energy” trying. We were told this by some of the most expensive legal minds in advocacy. We obviously, did not listen.

In our very first year we won the first court orders against inhumane conduct ever obtained since the passage of the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act. At Triple B in 2011 our cameras covered extensive, almost daily, activities during a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roundup. Driving back and forth across the state we also built a compelling legal argument presented in federal court.

BLM

BLM “acceptable” procedure at Triple B,

In August of 2011 a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) was won.

“I am deeply concerned,” Judge Mckibben stated to Eric Petersen, BLM’s legal counsel, “that declarations presented to the Court by the Agency do not address the issue, but simply deny wrong doing.”

Judge Mckibben went on to recite the only declaration, of the four presented to the Court, that addressed an instance where video taken by Plaintiff Laura Leigh of Wild Horse Education (WHE)  shows a BLM contract pilot coming dangerously close to a horse. Judge Mckibben could see an exhausted animal and the pilot apparently making contact. He said he did not appreciate the “blame the horse” direction of the Defendant’s statements.

“Hope Springs Eternal,” eight month old colt that died after his feet literally began to fall off after Calico roundup 2010. The beginning of the fight for a humane care policy by Leigh

The case remained active in federal court on the underlying Complaint and request for Preliminary Injunction.

  • In December of 2011 the BLM released a report on Triple B that essentially confirmed all allegations in the ongoing court action.
  • In June of 2012 WHE amended the Triple B case to include Jackson Mountain. A “purported emergency” that resulted in BLM rounding up newborn foals in June as private livestock continued to graze public land. WHE won.
  • In June of 2012 the case on inhumane treatment was granted a Preliminary Injunction. This particular win was created based on another win against violations of the First Amendment carried by Leigh and WHE that has just won sound legal building blocks in the Ninth Circuit Court.
  • Continuing the legal battle to gain a humane care policy, in January of 2013 WHE filed against conduct and unjustified removals at the Owyhee Complex. First gaining a TRO.
  • In Feb of 2013 BLM issued a “Memorandum” on humane care after multiple court rulings
  • BLM began working on a mechanism to accept public contributions to create shade structures and windbreaks in holding in 2014.

CAWP includes both the roundup and the facility.

Newborn separated from it's family at Fish Creek, roundup called off early according to law and impending policy

Newborn separated from it’s family at Fish Creek, roundup called off early according to law and impending policy

Fast forward to 2015:

A Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy (CAWP) is to be included in contracts beginning in 2015. As we await the finalization of the first policy in the history of the act, memorandums on protocol remain in place.

The First enforceable policy for humane care during roundups and in holding will be very real, very soon. (Included in all contracts as of fall 2015)

Happy Birthday WHE!

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Related Links:

WildHorseEducation.org remains devoted to gaining protections from abuse, slaughter and extinction for our wild horses and burros.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

Chopper coming in contact with wild horse at Triple B in August 2011

Chopper coming in contact with wild horse at Triple B in August 2011

TRO at Triple B, the first court order in the history of the act against conduct https://wildhorseeducation.org/2011/08/31/pilot-conduct-ruled-inhumane/

BLM Triple B report:  https://wildhorseeducation.org/2011/12/11/analysis-of-blm-report-on-triple-b-conduct/

Jackson Mountain Litigation: https://wildhorseeducation.org/legal-action/jackson-mountain/

Preliminary Injunction at Triple B https://wildhorseeducation.org/2012/06/22/another-win-against-blm-conduct-at-roundups/

TRO at Owyhee https://wildhorseeducation.org/2013/01/04/blm-owyhee-roundup-under-stop-order-from-federal-judge/

Owyhee ruling  https://wildhorseeducation.org/2013/01/10/judge-orders-blm-to-handle-wild-horses-humanely-at-ongoing-roundup/

Snowstorm cancelled: https://wildhorseeducation.org/snowstorm-owyhee/

2013 Humane Handling Memorandum:  https://wildhorseeducation.org/2013/02/01/blm-issues-humane-memorandum-in-the-wake-of-federal-court-actions/

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Antelope 2012

Antelope 2012

WildHorseEducation.org remains devoted to gaining protections from abuse, slaughter and extinction for our wild horses and burros. To support our ongoing work you can contribute here: http://WildHorseEducation.org/donate

Jackson Mountain 2012, foaling season... and another win against conduct

Jackson Mountain 2012, foaling season… and another win against conduct

August 30, 2011

BLM Pilot Conduct Ruled “Inhumane” at Triple B Wild Horse Hearing

Federal Judge “Deeply Concerned” Over BLM Defense

Yesterday, August 30th 2011 in a Reno Nevada Federal Courtroom the Honorable Judge Howard McKibben granted a Temporary Restraining Order against the continuation of documented helicopter pilot conduct at the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Triple B wild horse roundup in Eastern Nevada. Citing his authority as a Federal Judge to enjoin an agency’s conduct where their actions have been demonstrated to be “in violation of an Act” Judge McKibben issued the TRO.

“I am deeply concerned,” Judge Mckibben stated to Eric Petersen, BLM’s legal counsel, “that declarations presented to the Court by the Agency do not address the issue, but simply deny wrong doing.”

Judge Mckibben went on to recite the only declaration, of the four presented to the Court, that addressed an instance where video taken by Plaintiff Laura Leigh of Wild Horse Education (WHE) shows a BLM contract pilot coming dangerously close to an exhausted horse apparently making contact with the animal was in direct contrast to what was recorded. He stated that the declaration by Defendant was not what he observed in the video as he could see an exhausted animal and the pilot apparently making contact. He said he did not appreciate the “blame the horse” direction of the Defendant’s statements.

Although McKibben did not rule in Plaintiff’s favor on other cited alleged violations he did verbally address the Defendants. For example in the insufficient water assertion McKIbben did say that if the horses drain the water they should simply be given more.

Mckibben also noted that if the BLM brings a helicopter contractor back to Triple B, as stated in Alan Shepherd’s (BLM) declaration, “this Court will be watching.”

BLM GATHERS MORE LEGAL ACTION IN TREATMENT OF WILD HORSES

September 9, 2011 by Laura Leigh
(Working VERY hard. …. I promise. note from Laura)

An amended complaint was filed yesterday, September 8th 2011, in Federal District Court Reno, Nevada. The action was filed by attorney Gordon Cowan on behalf of Plaintiff Laura Leigh, Founder of Wild Horse Education (WHE) against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Interior (DOI) asserting allegations of inhumane treatment of wild horses at roundups.

The amended Complaint comes after a Temporary Restraining Order was issued to inhumane helicopter pilot conduct at the Triple B roundup in Eastern Nevada. That decision was rendered more than a week ago by Federal Judge H. McKibben. The BLM has yet to directly address the ruling. Instead the BLM simply released a report completed by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) which claims that conduct is acceptable, but cautions helicopters to keep their distance, on the same day the Court ruled.

On Sept 23, 2011 BLM creates a team to begin to review conduct

http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2011/september/NR_09_23_2011.html

Charter for review  (click text to read full charter)

The Triple B Complex gather was initiated on July 20 and completed on August 31, 2011. The gather was conducted by the Ely and Elko District Offices who manage the herd management areas in the complex. Sun J was the national contractor who conducted the gather. Responsible District Managers are Rosemary Thomas, Ely District and Ken Miller, Elko District. Incident commanders overseeing the gather were Mary D’Aversa, Shell Field Office Manager and Brian Fuell, Wells Field Office Manager. Contract Officer’s Technical Representatives were Ben Noyes, Ruth Thompson, Kristine Dedolph and Bruce Thompson. The goal of the gather was to gather and remove 1,726 wild horses. Gather results were 1,269 captured, four returned to the range, four gather related deaths and eight non-gather related deaths. 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.

Findings of the Review Team at Triple B, BLM “experts” agree conduct was inappropriate but split on judgement of “inhumane.”

“These incidents seemed in part due to a combination of poorly designed loading set up at the trap site, as well as unprofessional conduct by handlers at the trap site. Horses were observed being struck in the face, and often confused due to aggressive loading procedures and excessive pressure by multiple handlers. Several videos reveal that a few horses were repeatedly shocked with an electrical animal prod, sometimes in the face, and in one case, the use of this electrical prod led to a horse becoming stuck in a panel at the loading site. Some videos reveal horses being struck in more than one instance with the trailer gate to induce loading, and in one instance a horse appears to have been kicked in the head by a Sun J employee. In one video it appears that a horse was dragged into a trailer by a rope around its neck.”

Our response to the team report can be read here.

In addition to simply responding in writing, we continued to document and take them to court and to the “court of public opinion.” We continued to win.

Today we have a humane handling policy in it’s first year. The policy is in a “test” phase with a revision team expected to complete and file a review and amendments.

Our work to tighten and refine this policy continues.

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To help us continue our work you can contribute here: http://WildHorseEducation.org/donate

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