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The Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) and the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation have filed suit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) against wild horses.
The legal action asks that BLM remove all wild horses to “Appropriate Management Level,” (AML, or number of horses the land can sustain as defined by BLM) and claims severe detriment to the range, livestock operators and the wild horses themselves as BLM does not maintain this number of wild horses. The suit even goes so far as to ask that all horses in long-term holding be sold or destroyed. We say the suit is retaliation for livestock restrictions.
“We have to try all that we can to defend wild horses against this suit,” stated Leigh “BLMs lack of proactive action to correct flaws made in historic wild horse management has created a situation where our ‘living symbol of the pioneer spirit’ is again the target of private profiteers because of fictional population numbers that are set as ‘appropriate,’ (or what BLM calls AML) and in many cases were set under direct influence of livestock boards.”
In her Declaration to the court Leigh writes: “The broad claims made in this NACO suit that because the National Academy of Sciences or “NAS,” (that Plaintiff references as the “American Academy of Sciences”) report says there is a lack of data utilized in the BLM program somehow justifies broad scale removal is extremely upsetting for me. The same lack of data was used in determining “AML,” making that number as inaccurate as anything else in the program.”
The NACO suit not only requests the court to remove all wild horses in populations that exceed the inaccurate “AML” or stray onto “private property, but goes as far as requesting that horses in holding facilities nationwide be destroyed or sold “without limitation,” or to slaughter. The suit cites the 2004 “Burns Amendment” that allowed wild horses to be sold for slaughter for the first time since the 1971 Act to protect wild horses and burros was passed. The Amendment was slipped into an Omnibus spending bill prior to Thanksgiving recess. Americans, and several Congressmen, were surprised the language existed at all in the bill. Funding for BLM to destroy wild horses or sell them for slaughter has been repeatedly denied in subsequent appropriations bills including again in 2014.
We have been granted status to speak for the wild horses in Nevada. Documents filed in this case will be loaded soon. Status of the case is active.
This suit by NACO is what is called a “programmatic challenge” to the way BLM operates. As wild horse advocates are well aware this type of challenge should not stand under the scrutiny of the court. However we must be ready to fight the specific decisions or actions that threaten our wild horses and burros. We also must be ready to address any of the additional requirements of the court as efficiently as possible.
We have been asked many times why we file in court so often. Challenges under law require that they be made in a specific fashion. Filing on “humane issues” at “Triple B” or “Owyhee”have gained legal precedent through the orders of the court that can be applied to other decisions or actions that threaten the treatment of wild horses. We must be ever vigilant in our mission.
video below is of a meeting of the Nevada Department of Agriculture. Showing the preferential treatment that the livestock industry has repeatedly received by the BLM we have Boyd Spratling (a member of the Nevada Department of Ag AND the chair of the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board) asking for removal of wild horses across the state.