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Justice For Fish Creek

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After the county and ranchers lost litigation, Fish Creek wild horses were returned home to begin a darting/data collection program. Instead BLM began backdoor deals with livestock.

On September 6, 2019 the BLM will decimate the population of wild horses at Fish Creek. BLM plans to remove 500 wild horses, over 70% of those that live in the area.

BLM plans on doing no fertility control, no release.

The Fish Creek herd, and it’s unique genetic make-up, support some very special DNA. A curly horse gene, found nowhere else, is maintained through the uncommon genetic equation that is “Fish Creek.” BLM is on the verge of destroying a herd that is so unique it would qualify for “special status,” like the Pryor Mountain Range. 

Fish Creek has a long and twisted history. In a few short weeks BLM is planning to decimate this herd. 

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“Julia” and colt, Winter 2014. Julia died in holding after the county and ranchers filed a protest against fertility control and she was taken into “custody” during the hearing phase. The county lost, but it was too late for Julia and many other wild horses from Fish Creek that paid with their lives.

In 2015 BLM did a removal and treatment of fertility control (PZP-22). They planned to go back each year to monitor and dart the wild horses with native PZP. The data collected was intended to fix flaws in management. The “plan” was modeled around the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) review of 2013, A Path Forward. A moderate removal would occur to comply with existing land use plans. The data would proceed in process to fix the deficits and manipulations of history.

BLM stated they could not simply begin a darting/data program and needed to remove some of the wild horses. They planned to capture of 500-549 wild horses and remove 200. Approximately 300-349 wild horses would be released back to the range.

BLM captured 424, 8 died during capture. 162 were released after a long and drawn out legal battle, many died in holding due to the delay.

Counties and ranchers had filed litigation against fertility control and only wanted all the wild horses removed (and even killed if BLM claimed no space in holding). Their litigation lost in court.

The county continued to pressure BLM, created online harassment campaigns that caused volunteers to receive death threats, after their legal action lost and wild horses were returned.

From BLM website:

April 7: 82 mares and 80 studs were released south of U.S. Highway 50 in the Antelope Valley area west of Eureka. “Release horses” are normally turned back to the range after gather operations conclude. In this case, an Appeal and Request for Stay with the Interior Board of Land Appeals was filed trying to prevent the release of the horses. BLM agreed to hold off on the release and shipped 102 mares and 81 studs to temporary holding facilities until the IBLA judge ruled on the Stay. The judge denied the Stay on March 30. Since the gather ended, 5 mares died and 1 stud with a bad infection was euthanized while at temporary holding facilities. The 14 identified deaths include 8 animals from gather operations, and 6 animals while at temporary holding facilities. Another 15 mares and their newborn foals are being held for later release when the foals are stronger.

The 15 mares and their foals never went home.

The darting/data program evaporated under pressure.

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Many of you remember the fight to get the Fish Creek wild horses, including Sarge, released back to the range. Many of you remember how violent the reaction was when the wild ones finally went home. We are still fighting for justice for Fish Creek wild horses. The betrayals run deep. (click image to read about the deep flaws in management, Sarge is a poster child for it all)

Waters historically used by wild horses have been dismantled. (Waters that were one of the subjects of the article “All the Pretty Horses Must Die,” by Christopher Ketcham in the Daily Beast, 2017).

BLM and the county appear to have made secret deals and have refused to release information under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

Fish Creek was once a place where there was a “path forward.” A path to move into a science based approach to management: minimize any need for removal and protect the herd for generations to come. It vanished under intimidation and manipulation.

Fish Creek now represents a fast track backwards. 

BLM knows the boundary lines are wrong for this area. BLM knows that the Appropriate Management Level, AML, is wrong. BLM has said they would fix it in land use planning and never have. BLM knows this herd should be “special status.”

Essentially, everything the county asked for in a suit that lost in court, is now BLMs plan for this herd. 

Instead of protecting this herd, BLM will decimate it. 

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One of the most unique curly horses in the world, a Fish Creek wild horse

BLM has, once again, shirked responsibility to public resources and set the wild horses up for failure.

Our legal team is hard at work.

  • BLM must not be allowed to hide information involving wild horses and their habitat.

  • BLM must not be allowed to make “backdoor deals” that destroy public interest and public participation.

  • BLM must not be allowed to throw away 2 million dollars of tax-payer funds used in 2015 to create a data based plan to correct management flaws, just to satisfy the county.

  • BLM must address the boundary lines and AML they know are incorrect.

  • BLM has changed waters used by wild horses and even reclassified one as “outside HMA,” but includes it as “inside” the HMA in the 2015 EA. BLM should maintain the protocol outlined in the 2015 EA for water, create a new EA for any other action and open it to public comment.

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Our field team has been documenting Fish Creek, including the waters they have allowed to go into disrepair, for years. We have a long paper trail of attempts to address these issues with BLM that went ignored. We even tried volunteering inside a BLM office to address these issues.

Fish Creek is also where the “Stewart Alliance, Ten Years to AML” backdoor betrayal of organizations began. Instead of fighting, some joined in and sold our wild horses, like those at Fish Creek, right down the drain. This “alliance” has history at Fish Creek. (more on that soon)

We have built an informed and engaged interest at Fish Creek.

Now our legal team has taken the lead. Information has been provided to  Congressional Oversight, including the Office of the Inspector General and key House Investigative committees. Our legal team is preparing the next wave; engagement and, if no resolution, litigation. 

Help us get justice for Fish Creek. We must stop BLM from kowtowing to the wishes of livestock, even when they lose in court. If BLM did create a settlement on a losing legal action? They left off a legal interest of record, a voice that represented the interests of the wild horses, WHE.

This dangerous practice of backdoor deal making must come to an end. It lies at the core of all that is wrong with the entire Wild Horse and Burro Program.

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Please, help us stay in this fight. 

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More about Fish Creek: https://wildhorseeducation.org/page/12/?s=fish+creek

Join our Justice for Fish Creek rapid response action team below. You will be sent information on direct actions you can take to support our legal team. 

 

Categories: Lead, Wild Horse Education