The Pauite-Shoshone tribes have once again entered into an agreement with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to remove over 1,200 horses from tribal and federal land.
Citing an increase in unauthorized use of federal lands, and increasing tensions with the tribe, the project is being contemplated as a “cooperative.” Documents were sent by USFS to the public for comment on February 19. These documents outline an ongoing effort to remove horses that will begin in August of 2015 and likely consist of “3-4″ of these removals that will last approximately 4-5 days each. The documents do not outline a strategy for addressing the repeat pattern of the trespass.
In April of this year Wild Horse Education (WHE) President Laura Leigh accompanied representatives of USFS and BLM to the project area. Specific emphasis was on BLM land outside the Little Owyhee Herd Management Area (HMA). WHE has litigated, successfully, on multiple occasions to protections involving wild horses in the Owhyee Complex.
Leigh found the criteria to distinguish tribal horses from federally protected wild horses woefully inadequate on the ground. In fact she found agency assessment of “wild vs. tribal” to actually contradict in practice.
A letter was sent by AWHPC and WHE to the BLM informing them that the proposed project was likely in violation of current protocols for such activity on BLM land. Any horse removed from BLM land (that has no brand), using the criteria set out by the agencies themselves, falls under the classification as “wild.” Therefore any wild horse removed from BLM land should not be turned over to the tribe. BLM must follow regulations and guidelines set out for such removals under their active decision record documents for the Owyhee Complex (a ten year EA that includes the BLM land in the proposed area).
As of today there has been no response from BLM.
In 2013 a removal of tribal horses in this same project area sent 470 horses to an auction house in Fallon Nevada. The sale is a known “kill buyer” sale. USFS dropped out of the formal “cooperative” prior to operations beginning under intense litigation. http://wildhorseeducation.org/?s=mcdermitt . Even announcing that the operation was cancelled http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/aug/8/wild-horse-roundup-is-canceled-amid-outrage/?utm_source%3DRSS_Feed%26utm_medium%3DRSS. The operation continued simply without the official “cooperative.”
Leigh flew the area. Once again the observations confirmed the inability to appropriately assess distinction between tribal and federal horses. Wild horses were seen moving out of the HMA over established trails toward waters inside the project area. There was no distinction between band behavior in every band noted in the area. Trailing in the area was well established in and out of the HMA.
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Categories: Wild Horse Education