Wild Horse And Burro Round-Ups Are Reined In

Responding to a request for an
immediate court injunction from The Fund for Animals and
the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Bureau of Land
Management (BLM) has agreed to rein in its strategy of
removing half of all wild horses and burros from public lands
in the West over the next few years. The agreement affects
eleven horse and burro round-ups that are scheduled
through May.

The organizations filed a lawsuit in September challenging
BLM's new strategy for wild horses and burros, on the
grounds that the strategy violates the federal Wild
Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, and that BLM failed to
consider the environmental impacts of, or reasonable
alternatives to, this strategy, as required by the National
Environmental Policy Act. As a key part of this strategy,
BLM has been removing 40% more horses and burros than
even the agency itself has determined is necessary to
protect rangelands — called "Appropriate Management
Levels" (AML). Under the agreement filed in federal court
yesterday, BLM has agreed to stop this practice for the time

According to Andrea Lococo, Rocky Mountain Coordinator of
The Fund for Animals, "It's bad enough that the agency
charged with the protection of the public's wild horses and
burros has set population targets for these animals at a
fraction of what they are for private livestock, but to
remove 40% more goes beyond the pale. This agreement will
prevent that from happening."

In order to avoid an immediate court ruling on that aspect of
the strategy whereby BLM removes wild horses and burros
to 40% below AML, BLM agreed that it will not undertake
such removals without first giving plaintiffs significant
advance notice, to ensure the court can rule on the legality
of the practice before it happens again. BLM has also
withdrawn its request to dismiss the lawsuit.

Added Howard Crystal, attorney for the organizations, "BLM
saw the writing on the wall. They clearly did not want the
court to look at this most egregious aspect of their new
strategy. We hope BLM will now recognize that the entire
strategy needs a thorough review."

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