Legal Battle Continues; a herd in danger

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Winter Velvet; His herd is in serious danger

(Informal short update on the legal fight against mine approval). Reading list at the bottom of the page.

UPDATE: 5:00 PM pacific. BLM appears  really anxious to move this Canadian mine forward. They have filed another brief in reply to one we filed Friday. AGAIN BLM is not arguing the merit of our argument but asserting that the obstacles they created led to justified disregard of the law. We will file another brief in the morning and are preparing (already) to take this action to a higher court if necessary. This is so blatantly wrong.

This is the type of work we do that is often the most difficult to explain. This piece is written informally with the hopes that we can create a path to understanding; the threats to your voice and the land the wild horses stand are creating a danger, not only in this area but all over the West. This threat is “code red” in the fight to protect and preserve wild horses.

This summer many of you remember the way we found out about the Canadian Fiore Gold project? It was a bit of a shock after BLM announced an “emergency” that would afford absolutely no transparency of the removal of wild horses in a subset population of Pancake.

We had to engage legally to simply be able to observe wild horses held at temporary, that BLM placed on reservation land (always makes me suspicious and can often indicate some other project where a bit of “cash in pocket” can create a more conducive climate for agreements). Then BLM cancelled the operation and was supposed to notify if it resumed. BLM did not notify. BLM did not create a tour of the Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes) facility to see which horses were captured before assimilating into the general population. BLM was making a lot of effort to hide this.

Those are the types of things that really grab my attention. I found a gold mine that involved an impact to some of the most critical habitat for the Pancake horses. I found that at no time during the approval process did BLM reach out, notify, inform any wild horse interest.

The project was just weeks away from approval. There is absolutely no analysis of how the wild horses in that part of the HMA will be effected; zip, zero, nada, nothing.

We crafted comments asking BLM to create a supplement and allow appropriate engagement. They simply approved the mine.

This specific spot, the exact location, has become precious to us at WHE. We even held a portion of our yearly board meeting there, the exact location. We had been trying to get a monitoring/fertility program for those exact horses into discussion with BLM and at no time was the mine mentioned.

Legal cases are not a filing of one sentence or claim; declarations, historical reference, active reference, pertinent law must be presented in brief after brief as each side creates an argument.

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In truth BLM knows very little about his herd and how their actions will effect his ability to thrive. BLM is selective in what, who and how they operate in their “friends and family club.” That is not public land management, that is not the law.

In this case BLM is not arguing that the data is not vacant. or that there was no notification during the preliminary process, they are arguing that somehow specific parties (all of our board members are listed as distinct individuals and the organization is listed) either simply added a name to the org comment letter or did not include specific comments in their individual letter. A semantics game is the argument. (most in the public sphere do not understand that “orgs” only have legal standing because of the individuals that participate, the orgs stand on the individual).

They are also arguing that, even under the lack of notification of the process and a private return address on the decision (in an envelope with no markings that it contained a government document) and BLM in writing conforming a date for filing of the legal action… that the action is not “timely” on our part.

This is simply “crazy making.” BLM can fail, again and again, set up a situation and then defend themselves through exploitation of their failure. We will take it up the legal food chain if this action does not produce an appropriate action from BLM; create the Supplement and include a legal, established, interest. All we are asking is for BLM to follow the intention of law. The intention of the law would allow for interests to speak, add info and create a plan to protect their interest. BLM did not afford that opportunity to one interest only; wild horse advocacy. 

But that is not what BLM is even defending… it is “crazy making.” 

This area is not simply getting hit with one mine. There is another in the works and yet another massive oil and gas lease sale pending. The heart of this herd will be decimated. 

WHE is taking our arguments into the realm of those other projects; more framework and legal team strategy work. However for the other projects we do have more time as we found those early enough.

One of the reasons this area is precious is that even though half this HMA was battered and bashed by decades of livestock use, water contaminated in places by old mines, this spot… this specific spot… is still wild. You can sit and watch wild horses, mule deer, pronghorn, elk, badger, sage grouse. This area is truly an area where the “wild” of the wild horse still exists. 

BLM is derelict in it’s responsibility to the public and to the wild horses… the sage grouse, the mule deer, the pronghorn, the badger, the wild itself.

Often the BLM likes to point at advocates and claim they know nothing about land use planning and are simply looking for a “money shot” to fundraise at a roundup.

We did not “make money” as we litigated and litigated to force a humane handling policy; we created a policy. Now it is about enforcement and refinement when we go.

We know about land use planning. We know BLM makes it extremely difficult for any environmental interest as it caters to profit driven exploitation (mines can even write their own EISs).

A journalist could only make it for three days; the day I had a legal brief due. I had to obligate myself to get her back to the airport; 26 hours driving in 3 days.

WHE is not an org with lawyers on retainer, company vehicles or any form of bankroll. Under the pressure of that schedule, that I felt would even be too hard for my aging dog, we got our brief on file. Our truck is now in the shop and I am crafting the next round, the next project, as the threats to the wild places come at a head spinning rate.

We do not have what we need, we have the equivalent of a “slingshot and a rock.” We do have an incredible track record. We do have knowledge of the range. We do have heart, mind and soul dedicated to preserving and protect wild horses.

We are fighting for them, have no paid PR staff to “get this out in press blast.” But we have taken more than a handful of journalist to see “the land they stand on” that will. literally, not be there is three years in we can not get this fight going “long before the chopper flies.”

I have a stack of EISs, EAs and a truck I need to address today so I can get back on the road. Apologies for this informal notification. You make this work possible… and you need to know that we are fighting. Thank you!



Without the “wild” there is no wild horse. That story is a “code red.” We are doing our best to get that urgent truth understood. 

Litigation is expensive. Please help if you can.


5 days left to buy a shirt and show your support, “Freedom and Justice.” Click image.


Original filing against the mine: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2018/11/01/legal-action-filed-against-blm-mine-approval/

Gold Rock; the Destruction Begins https://wildhorseeducation.org/2018/09/14/gold-rock-the-destruction-of-a-wildhorse-herd-begins-blmnv/

How we found out https://wildhorseeducation.org/2018/08/21/blm-fails-wildhorses-in-nepa-threatening-entire-herd/

On another note, the Silver King roundup? You see the roundup, do you know how it all happens and where we need this fight to go today?

WHE and WildLands Defense have filed a legal protest to grazing decisions https://wildhorseeducation.org/2018/11/24/cow-it-happens-or-where-all-the-catch-phrases-come-from-in-wild-horse-advocacy-with-a-look-at-the-silver-king-capture-scheduled-next-week-part-one/

More in the “backstory” of advocacy: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2018/11/30/backstory-its-all-in-there/

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Little one keeping an eye on me as his herd moved closer in the snow as they grazed. I love our wild, wild ones. We still have places that are beautiful and amazing. Our wild, wild horse still exists.

Categories: Lead, Wild Horse Education