We defend wild horses and burros from government actions that violate federal law and harm these iconic wild animals. AWHC serves the majority of Americans who value wild horses as national treasures and want to see them preserved and protected as mandated by the unanimously passed Wild Free-Roaming Wild Horses and Burros Act of 1971.
A strong record of successful litigation.
With a thoughtful approach to pursuing no-nonsense lawsuits, we collaborate with NGO partners, individual citizens, and the legal team at public interest firm Eubanks and Associates to win the cases we pursue against injustice.
We set legal precedents.
Our victories in federal court include three significant legal precedents at the Ninth and Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. These legal victories have affirmed that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management cannot turn public lands over to private interests and has broad discretion to manage wild horses and burros without rounding them up and removing them from their homes on the range.
Cases and accomplishments by year:
- Joined with Skydog Sanctuary, and its founder, Clare Staples, Evanescent Mustang Rescue and Sanctuary, and wildlife photographer Carol Walker, to challenge BLM's creation and implementation of the controversial Adoption Incentive Program for wild horses and burros.
- Secured, with wild horse photographer Rob Hammer, protection for wild mares in the Confusion Herd Management Area in Utah from the BLM’s plan to subject them to barbaric surgical sterilization surgeries which would have removed their ovaries.
- Fought to keep wild burros in the Centennial, Slate, and Panamint Herd Areas in the Mojave Desert in California wild by filing an appeal with the Interior Board of Land Appeals.
- Defended, with Rob Hammer, wild horses in Utah from the BLM’s plan to subject wild mares in the Confusion Herd Management Area to barbaric sterilization surgeries to remove their ovaries.
- Filed a series of Freedom of Information Act litigation seeking information that will shed light on the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program.
- Joined with Animal Legal Defense Fund and Carla Bowers to challenge the decision by the U.S. Forest Service to sell federally-protected wild horses “without limitation" on slaughter.
- Joined with photographer Kimerlee Curyl to challenge the BLM's plan to remove over 9,000 horses from the Antelope and Triple B Complex in Nevada over the next ten years. A major focus of the case is the BLM's plan to castrate hundreds of wild free-roaming stallions and use an unproven birth control vaccine, on wild mares living in this 3.8 million-acre public lands complex.
- Teamed up with The Cloud Foundation and Western Watersheds Project to defend the wild horses living on BLM lands in the Caliente Complex in Nevada. We are challenging the BLM's plan to eradicate wild horses from these public lands while continuing to allow intensive commercial livestock grazing in the area.
- Won a Preliminary Injunction to halt BLM's plan to subject wild mares to barbaric sterilization surgeries to remove their ovaries. As a result, BLM then chose to abandoned the experiments all together.
- Defended wild horses in Idaho from the BLM’s plans to destroy the wild free-roaming horse population in the Saylor Creek Herd Management Area by converting it to a non-reproducing herd of surgically sterilized stallions and mares.
- Defended wild horses in Utah from a rancher lawsuit seeking the removal of thousands of mustangs from public land in that state.
- Fought at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a lower court decision to toss a rancher lawsuit seeking the roundup and slaughter of thousands of wild horses from public lands in Nevada.
- Stopped the U.S. Forest Service from eliminating more than 25,000 acres of prime Wild Horse Territory with a win in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
- Scored two major, precedent-setting legal victories at the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Overturned a lower court decision that put wild horses at the mercy of private landowners and ranchers who want to eradicate these animals from our public lands.
- Stopped the BLM from treating the public lands in the Wyoming Checkerboard as private.
- Forced BLM to cancel the roundup of hundreds of horses from Checkerboard lands.
- Held that states and ranchers cannot sue the government to remove wild horses just because their population numbers exceed BLM’s arbitrarily imposed limits.
- Affirmed that BLM is not required to remove horses from the range, but rather has broad discretion when managing horses, including the use of humane fertility control.
- Stopped BLM’s plans to conduct barbaric sterilization experiments on wild mares.
- Our First Amendment lawsuit demanding the right to observe and document these gruesome experiments caused BLM to cancel them, sparing 200 mares and their unborn foals pain, suffering, and high-risk death.
- Intervened and won in a lawsuit filed by ranchers in Nevada seeking mass removals and slaughter of wild horses and burros. Case dismissed with prejudice (meaning it cannot be re-filed) by the lower court.
- Intervened and won in a lawsuit filed by the State of Wyoming on behalf of ranchers seeking the mass roundup and removal of thousands of wild horses from the state. Case dismissed as meritless by the lower court.
- Stopped the BLM from “zeroing out” (eliminating wild horses from) the Jakes Wash Herd Area in Nevada and from castrating wild free-roaming stallions in the Pancake Herd Management Area, also in Nevada.
- Stopped the BLM from surgically sterilizing wild free-roaming mares and stallions in the White Mountain Herd Management Area in Wyoming.
Active on Appeal
Appellate Court Victories
- DC Circuit Find Forest Service Violated Law in Reducing Size of Devils Garden Wild Horse Territory (2017)
- Ninth Circuit Tosses Nevada Rancher Lawsuit (2017)
- Tenth Circuit Tosses State of Wyoming Rancher Lawsuit (2016)
- Tenth Circuit Affirms BLM Cannot Treat Public Lands as Private In WY Checkerboard (2016)
- IBLA Appeal
- Confusion HMA Surgical Sterilization
- Devils Garden Intervention
- Beaver County Utah Intervention
- Wyoming Checkerboard III
- Devil's Garden Wild Horse Territory (AWHPC et. al. vs. U.S. Forest Service)
- Saylor Creek - Jarbidge RMP
- Litigation: Utah Ranchers vs. BLM
- Litigation: NACO vs. DOI (Intervention)
- Wyoming Checkerboard 2016
- Wyoming Checkerboard 2014
- State of Wyoming vs. DOI (Intervention)
- Oregon Sterlization Experiments
- Wyoming RSGA vs. DOI (Intervention)
- Wyoming BLM White Mountain Sterilization Plan (AWHPC et. al vs. DOI)
- AWHPC et. al. vs. DOI (Pancake (NV) Complex)
- Devils Garden Sale "Without Limitation"
- Caliente 'Zeroing' Out
- Mare Ovariectomy Experiments
- Antelope Triple B Ten-Year Plan