For Immediate Release
March 25, 2015
Jenni Barnes, staff attorney, FoA’s Wildlife Law Program 720.949.7791; email@example.com
Mike Harris, Director, Wildlife Law Program; 720.949.7791; firstname.lastname@example.org
BLM concedes, cancels roundup of Nevada’s beloved Pine Nut Herd following FoA’s and Protect Mustangs’ court victory
(NEVADA)—Following U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks Feb. 11 decision to grant Friends of Animals’ (FoA) and Protect Mustangs’ a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the proposed roundup of more than 300 wild horses in the Nevada Pine Nut Herd Management Area (HMA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced it has officially canceled the roundup.
“BLM’s mismanagement of wild horses has been exposed by Friends of Animals with this victory,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “We had our boots on the ground in Nevada in February and spent an entire day out in the Pine Nut Range looking for the beloved wild horses who live there. We were lucky if we saw 20 horses. FoA is committed to challenging any future BLM data collection in all Herd Management Areas. In Nevada, we have already commissioned a wildlife ecologist to conduct field research in the Pine Nut Range. This is just the beginning.”
The BLM had abruptly decided to round-up and permanently remove 200 wild horses in the Pine Nut HMA and round-up another 132 wild horses so that an estimated 66 mares could be forcibly drugged with the fertility control pesticide PZP, blaming them for range degradation that is really caused by cattle and sheep grazing. The BLM, which treats ranchers as clients, claimed it documented 332 wild horses in the Pine Nut HMA in August of 2014, and that the Appropriate Management Level for the HMA is 119-179 wild horses.
“The BLM relied upon a stale Environmental Assessment from 2010 and did not meet its duty to fully inform the public about the impacts associated with its roundup plans, which included dosing dozens of mares with the fertility drug PZP,” said Friends of Animals’ attorney, Jennifer Barnes. “Because of new research, there are rising concerns about drugging wild horses with PZP. This case highlights some of the deficiencies with BLM’s current management of wild horses, and I hope that in the future BLM considers its obligations to involve the public on decisions that affect our public lands. Friends of Animals will continue to demand justice for wild horses so that they can roam freely on the range where they have established strong family units and a beneficial connection with land.”
Before the roundup was scheduled to begin, FoA and Protect Mustangs filed a case in the District Court of Nevada, arguing that BLM violated its duties under the National Environmental Policy Act by relying upon a stale Environmental Assessment from 2010 and a preliminary injunction was necessary to stop the roundup. U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks agreed. Hicks decided on Feb. 11 that the plaintiffs showed they were likely to succeed on their legal claims and granted FoA’s request to postpone the roundup.
“While we are thrilled by these victories, our hearts break for the Virginia Range wild horses, who we were awestruck by when we were in Nevada,” said Feral. “Return to Freedom, the founding organization of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), betrayed the Virginia Range wild horses by signing a cooperative agreement with the Nevada Department of Agriculture to begin forcibly drug the mares with the fertility pesticide PZP. They may want to stick their head in the sand and use this as a fundraising opportunity, but the harsh reality for wild horses is that research shows PZP has long-term detrimental effects on wild horses. Roundups and PZP are part of the BLM’s extinction plan for wild horses, the same plan ranchers who graze their cattle and sheep on public lands subscribe to.”
In Nevada, in the 75 allotments overseen by the Sierra Front Field Office, there are 15,540 cattle and 22,685 sheep grazing throughout the year. That same field office oversees four herd management areas—including the Pine Nut HMA where Friends of Animals and Protect Mustangs stopped the roundup in February —and the combined Appropriate Management Levels of all four HMAs, is a paltry 337 wild horses. This is a shocking 114 to 1 ratio of cows and sheep to horses.