On Friday Wild Horse Education (WHE) sent a packet of information off to the House Committee on Natural Resources, and key Senators, containing documents regarding policy changes that took place in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Program under William Perry Pendley.
A lawsuit from Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) successfully challenged Pendley’s tenure as acting BLM Chief. Judge Brian Morris ruled that Pendley “served unlawfully as the Acting BLM Director for 424 days.”
The Judge has since invalidated 3 land use plans in the state of Montana. He ruled that environmental organizations, that compiled a list of over 30 decisions similar to the ones the court has vacated, must file individual claims.
Pendley has led the bureau in a temporary capacity since July 2019.
“Wild horses and burros are a mess,” stated Laura Leigh of Wild Horse Education, “The secrecy and private deals have driven this program like an exclusive club under Pendley. Finding the specific name or number to a policy, in order to succinctly file a court action, has become a near impossibility. It can take months to get an answer to the most simplistic of questions, far too late to stop the rapid destruction of a herd after the specifics demonstrate a valid challenge. We have reached out to the House Committee, and key Senators, for assistance.”
Actions that, once done can not be undone, have been accelerating in the wild horse program under Pendley. The program is stretching the budget to find funding to do the largest roundup of wild horses in history, in a state Pendley served as an attorney on multiple lawsuits trying to force removals and/or to gain monetary compensation for his clients for the grass a wild horse might eat. BLM intends to begin highly contentious and brutal surgical spaying of mares in Utah next month. BLM has stopped issuing documents that state adequacy to existing NEPA, as they hit herd after herd with roundups, citing an internal memorandum that does not not state they no longer need to issue such documents. BLM employees then state you need to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for additional information.
“Under Pendley we have FOIA requests outstanding over 365 days. By the time we receive any response, to determine the framework of a legal action, the damage will be irreparable. Wild horses are dying after water deals shut off their sources. We wont get those herds back once rounded up and those mares wont get their ovaries back. We wont be able to retrieve the lives lost.” Leigh stated.
A new bill from Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and other lawmakers would bar the Appeal of the ruling by Judge Morris seeking to overturn the ruling ousting William Perry Pendley from his role as the de facto director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). If the ruling stands, it could have major environmental consequences, giving groups a precedent for fighting other plans.
The focus of legislators is to stop opening large swaths of public lands to fossil fuel development.
“There is more to public lands than the fight against fossil fuels,” stated Leigh, “Our public lands are home to Americas wild things. Our wild horses have been under assault. That assault has escalated under Pendley. Hiding the crime has also accelerated; turning field offices into accomplices helping to conceal wrongdoing. The American people need help, now. Congress must step up and halt this travesty. By the time the bill is debated, and the decision on the Appeal arrives, it will be too late for thousands of our cherished wild horses.” Concluded Leigh.
What you can do
Please take action to demand Congress defund any roundups where the BLM has failed to create open and transparent management planning. Click HERE.
Call the Senate switchboard and ask for your rep. Demand that all actions against wild horses and burros halt until William Perry Pendley leaves the BLM. His tenure was ruled illegal and BLM is still moving an agenda forward for Pendley’s former law clients. Switchboard (202) 224-3121
Help us stay in the fight.
Categories: Wild Horse Education