There is a lot of confusion as to the timeline of the “Humane case, Triple B” so we have included this here to clarify.
IMAGES THAT HAVE SHOCKED THE PUBLIC ABOUT HOW OUR WILD HORSES AND BURROS ARE TREATED HAVE SURFACED TIME AND AGAIN IN THE HISTORY OF THE WILD HORSE AND BURRO PROGRAM. SO WHY ARE THINGS DIFFERENT NOW?
“I have tried to explain to people that it is not just the photo’s and videos,” said Laura Leigh of Wild Horse Education “It is that this time those images made the courtroom of a Federal Judge that truly paid close attention to our documentation and the excuses made for such conduct by BLM. I am not the first one to capture an animal being hit by a helicopter, but this is the first time BLM had to answer to someone that has the power to enjoin the agency, the Judge”
At the Antelope Complex roundup the conduct that was documented included images that included inappropriate pilot conduct, lathered animals, overcrowding of alleys, etc. The BLM would not address the conduct. The local Sheriff was contacted. As the infractions occurred on Federal land, under the authority of the Federal government, the local authority passed the “investigation” over to the Federal government that turned it back to the BLM to investigate.
Ms. Leigh and others were interviewed by BLM. BLM had Ms. Leigh’s photos but wanted her raw files. She refused to turn over the chip as the images were readily available and she felt the questions were leading to a justification process, not a solution to repetitive conduct.
The BLM in house investigation cleared the personnel and contractor of any inappropriate conduct. Several groups continued to pressure the Sheriff. The Sheriff said it was not his jurisdiction. Documentation was taken to the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board and sent to Congress. Nothing happened.
At the very next operation in the same district, same personnel, same contractor the same conduct was repeated. This roundup took place at the Triple B Complex. Ms. Leigh took her documentation, that included a helicopter apparently hitting a horse with it’s skids, into Federal District Court in Reno.
In August of 2011, the Honorable Judge Howard McKibben granted Ms. Leigh a TRO to pilot conduct and referenced the agencies justification a “blame the horse affront.” The Judge said he did not appreciate the agency simply denying what he could see with his own eyes. The agency then created the “Triple B Review Team.” The “team” then created a report that actually admitted to the conduct alleged in the suit and created a series of recommendations.
The Jackson Mountain roundup in the Winnemucca District was scheduled in June during BLM’s prohibited “foaling season.” BLM only has authority to use helicopters during foaling season in extreme emergent situations. BLM used a pending emergent situation in a small area in the SW of Jackson to create a Record of Decision throughout the HMA. Only a small portion of the HMA had any drought issues. BLM claimed it would use extreme care in operations during foaling season.
WHE again filed suit and again won a TRO holding BLM accountable to it’s own policy. The Judge ruled that words like “might” or “may” did not constitute a fulfillment of authorized action and granted the TRO to WHE until after foaling season.
Issues such as these are the subject of ongoing legal conferences and court actions.
No policy for humane handling has come forward from the agency.
Leigh’s case moved forward and gained an Injunction to the conduct cited in the TRO this last June 2012. Identical conduct was documented yet again at Antelope.
The case moves forward.
UPDATE: We continue actions for humane treatment of wild horses and burros. We filed for Owyhee, against BLM’s ten year plan, and gained more language in the fight. READ about Owyhee under Legal Actions. That case is also ongoing!