Owyhee Complex: Legal Action


MINUTE ORDER IN CHAMBERS of the Honorable Judge Miranda M. Du, on 2/25/2013. By Deputy Clerk: Peggie Vannozzi. RE: [14] MOTION for Preliminary Injunction Motion Hearing set for 4/18/2013 09:00 AM in Reno Courtroom 3 before Judge Miranda M. Du.(no image attached)(Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF – PAV)

On November 26 BLM began the Owyhee Complex (5 HMA’s) roundup in Northern Nevada. The Little Owyhee HMA (Herd Management Area) was the first “phase” in a ten year plan by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to remove animals in a “Complex” that spans over 1,000,000 acres.

The first phase of operation ended on December 20th in a “break” for the holidays. (note: BLM had scheduled the phase one and two in authority to operate until January third with “scheduling” at district level to have both phases completed by Dec. 23). The first phase removed almost half the number of wild horses BLM claimed were over “AML” in the entire Complex, targeted in a ten year plan, removing 819.

The public (and Wild Horse Education) actively engaged the agency in many attempts to address issues arising on the ground (as BLM ignored comments to the EA on these very issues) as they occurred. Wild Horse Education (and the public) continued over the holidays to attempt to address the actions it found offense during the break.

On January 3rd of the new year BLM announced that it would begin the second phase (Owyhee HMA) and planned to remove 50 and PZP treat, sex skew and release the remaining 150 targeted for “roundup.” Yet that failed to address any concern nor admit that any changes in operation were required.

On January 4th Laura Leigh, founder of Wild Horse Education (WHE) filed a Complaint addressing the ten year plan at the Complex. Later in the day they filed an Emergency Motion to restrain activity (at the Owyhee HMA) until a conversation could begin to address the serious  issues at the Complex.

Federal Court Judge Hon. Miranda Du found the material presented to her compelling to issue an order stopping the second phase of the operation to hear the matter.

Wild Horse Education (WHE) continued to file supporting Motions and documents, including a claim for Preliminary Injunctive Relief to the removal activities in the Complex. The date for the Injunctive hearing has not been set as parties must file supporting briefs in that action. The hearing is expected to take place shortly.

During an unusually long hearing on a TRO, the Judge lifted the Order to operations continuing (ie transporting horses from the range to Litchfield and the birth control portion of the operation to continue). However the Judge issued a warning to conduct.  (More details on the content of the hearing will be published).

Within hours of the end of the hearing the Judge issued an Order outlining expectations. The Order contains specific language addressing the Courts expectations as the Complaint and the Motion for Preliminary Injunction move forward.

As with all court actions a series of motions, replies and responses are filed along with declarations and exhibits. WHE has included first hand observations and documentation as well as declarations from equine professionals and administrative documents. WHE is obtaining further professional documentation to support claims.

Complaint(Doc1-0)-2013-01-04-Complaint1 and Preliminary Injunction Motion(Doc14-0)PrelimInjMot (please note that these are public filings but content is under copyright) These documents before the court deal with inaccuracies of “excess animals” and inhumane treatment.

The removal operation at the second phase of the roundup is in progress. Yet the Order from the Judge is in effect. The “conversation” is not over as the Injunctive Motion will be heard as well as the underlying Complaint. This is a ten year plan in progress by the BLM at the Owyhee Complex.

Website and Blog will continue to update the issues as they arise.

WHE has another active suit to Inhumane treatment (Triple B) and well as a very “large” access case heading into hearings early this year.

Current ORDER:


The Injunction issued by this Court on January 4, 2013, IS HEREBY LIFTED, in accordance with the following terms:

1. Defendant may conduct the planned wild horse gather and transport at the Owyhee HMA.

2. Defendant must conduct the gather and transport in a humane fashion pursuant to 16 U.S.C. § 1333 (b)(2)(iv)(B) and 43 C.F.R. § 4700.0-5(e)-(f).

3. Defendant cannot use “hot shot”/electric prod treatment on the 14 weanlings it plans to transport.

4. Defendant cannot routinely use “hot shot”/electric prod treatment during the planned gather and transport of the adult horses. Defendant may only use such treatment as necessary to ensure the safety and security of the horses and handlers.

5. Defendant cannot conduct the gather or transport in a manner where the horses are driven through barbed wire fences.

6. Defendant must conduct the gather and transport in a manner ensuring that all foals are able to keep up with the drive, and none are left behind from the herd.

7. To the extent Defendant uses such methods, Defendant cannot conduct the gather or transport in a manner where the horses are treated with rushed and aggressive loading tactics from the trap sites into the trucks.

8. To the extent Defendant uses such methods, Defendant cannot conduct the gather or transport in a manner where the horses are rounded up from unsafe trap locations.


DATED THIS 10th day of January


These cases, investigations and supporting documentation, are supported solely by Wild Horse Education, a registered Nevada non-profit.  http://wildhorseeducation.org/