Cheyenne, WY (April 21, 2015) . . . Today, the U.S. District Court in Wyoming dismissed a lawsuit filed by the State of Wyoming against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) seeking the removal of wild horses from public lands across the state. Earlier this year, the Court granted intervenor status to the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom, and wild horse photographers Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl. Intervenors promptly filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against the BLM.
The Court stated in its decision that “the Court agrees with BLM and Intervenors. At this time there is no discrete action required by BLM and the management of wild horses on federal land throughout Wyoming is properly left to the sound discretion of BLM without judicial entanglement.”
“We are pleased that the Court declined to allow this blatant attempt by the State to scapegoat the small number of wild horses that remain in Wyoming to benefit ranchers. The Court reaffirmed the BLM’s discretion to determine what actions are needed to achieve the agency’s objective to maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and that removing horses is not mandated,” said Caitlin Zittkowski of Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal, the Washington, D.C. public interest law firm which represented AWHPC, The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom, Ms. Walker and Ms. Curyl in the case.
Just last month, the Federal Court in Nevada granted AWHPC’s motion to dismiss in a similar lawsuit filed on behalf of ranchers that sought the removal of thousands of wild horses from public lands. That case was dismissed with prejudice.
The State of Wyoming lawsuit sought the removal of hundreds of wild horses from public lands in Wyoming, a state in where fewer than 2,500 wild horses remain. Statewide, Wyoming’s wild horse population levels are far below the high “Allowable” Management Level of 3,722 wild horses, a number established by BLM land use plans.
National opinion polls indicate that 72 percent of Americans support protecting wild horses on public lands while just 29 percent want public lands used for livestock grazing.
In Wyoming, wild horse numbers are dwarfed by the number of livestock grazing on public lands at taxpayer expense. Fewer than 2,500 wild horses remain on just 3.2 million acres of public rangeland, while hundreds of thousands of livestock graze 18 million acres of public land in the state. Put another way, wild horses are present in Wyoming on just 2 percent of the BLM land grazed by livestock.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is a coalition of more than 50 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.
The Cloud Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of wild horses and burros on our Western public lands with a focus on protecting Cloud’s herd in the Pryor Mountains of Montana. Cloud is the subject of Foundation founder Ginger Kathrens' groundbreaking PBS/Nature documentaries.
Return to Freedom (RTF) is a national non-profit dedicated to wild horse preservation through sanctuary, education and conservation, and also operates the American Wild Horse Sanctuary in Lompoc, CA. It is also AWHPC’s founding organization.
Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl are renowned wild horse photographers who regularly photograph the wild horses of the Adobe Town, Great Divide Basin and Salt Wells Creek HMAs. Walker is also a board member for the Wild Horse Freedom Federation.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom, John Steele, and Lisa Friday are being represented by the public interest Washington D.C. law firm of Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal.