The American Wild Horse Campaign and photographer Kimerlee Curyl today filed suit in U.S. District Court in Nevada challenging a ten-year plan by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to round up and remove nearly 10,000 federally-protected wild horses from the Antelope and Triple B Herd Management Area (HMA) complexes in southeastern Nevada, and to manage wild horses that remain on the range by castrating stallions and using an unproven birth control vaccine on mares.
AWHC and Curyl maintain that due to the scope and scientific controversy surrounding these management decisions BLM is required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before moving forward with this approach, particularly when gelding and one of the fertility drugs to be used on mares, GonaCon, may drastically impair the wild horses’ natural behaviors when they are returned to the range and destroy the social organization of the remaining herds.
The BLM plans to reduce the breeding population of wild horses in both Complexes to near extinction levels – 227 in Antelope and 272 in Triple B – by gelding 50% of the returned stallions, skewing the sex ratio of these wild horse populations to 60% male/40% female, and treating all the returned mares with fertility control – either PZP or GonaCon, a vaccine that the National Academy of Sciences said required further research before implementation on wild horse herds.
“This is the quintessential agency action that cries out for an Environmental Impact Statement– BLM is undertaking a decade-long management plan with many highly controversial effects on the natural behaviors of wild horses, and an action that could clearly set a precedent for how BLM manages wild horses in the future,” said attorney Katherine Meyer of Meyer, Glitzenstein and Eubanks, which filed the suit on behalf of AWHC and Curyl. “There is no question that an EIS is required.”
Last week, BLM began implementing the plan by rounding up 900 wild horses from the Triple B Complex. Every one of the horses removed is in danger of being killed if Congress grants BLM’s recent request to destroy or sell for slaughter tens of thousands of wild horses in holding facilities and on the range. 80 percent of Americans-- including 83 percent of Trump voters and 77 percent of Clinton voters-- oppose the BLM’s lethal plan
“With the pending roundup of 8,000 additional wild horses from these complexes over the next several years, and the castration of wild stallions and use of an unproven birth control vaccine on the line, it’s important to take a stand now,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of the American Wild Horse Campaign. “BLM must not be given carte blanche to implement a ten-year plan that will destroy these unique, federally-protected wild horse populations. ”
Photograper Kimerlee Curyl stated, “The wild horses of the Antelope and Triple B Complexes in Nevada are a magnificent natural resource and historic symbol of the wild West. Our government should be protecting and nurturing these incredible national treasures, not destroying them with a ten year plan that will reduce their population to extinction levels.”
AWHC and Curyl said that the real reason the horses are being removed is to maximize taxpayer-subsidized livestock grazing on the public lands in the area. The BLM authorizes up to 17,638 cow/calf pairs or 88,190 sheep to graze in the Antelope and Triple B Complexes each year, while restricting the number of horses to a maximum of 1,678 wild horses, or one horse per 2,324 acres. This week the government announced it was reducing the livestock grazing fee on public lands to $1.45 per Animal Unit Month – far below the market rate of $20/AUM/month for grazing on private land in the West.