U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly delivered a victory to Friends of Animals by ruling that the Bureau of Land Management does not have authority to issue wild horse roundup decisions that are in effect for 10 years. Sadly, she is still allowing the agency to move forward with harassing and removing some of Northern California’s beloved Twin Peak wild horses and burros from their families and home on the range.
“It’s gratifying that the judge recognized these long-term plans are not lawful. It is huge victory. However, I am extremely disappointed that the judge did not stop the roundup and removal of the Twin Peaks wild horses and burros,” said Jennifer Best, direct of Friends of Animals Wildlife Law Program. “These plans allow BLM to torment and harm wild horses and burros with little transparency or accountability and should be halted. BLM could essentially wipe out wild horses from public lands to placate the interests of the meat industry.”
FoA filed a lawsuit in 2018 against the BLM for its decision to reduce the size and slow the growth of the Twin Peaks wild horse herd over 10 years. The plan calls for several detestable approaches, including rounding up by helicopter-drive trapping and bait-and-water trapping, as well as fertility control and castration to reduce the herd to the low end of its so-called appropriate management level (AML) of 448 wild horses on approximately 800,000 acres.
“It is critical to remember that Congress enacted the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 to protect wild horses, and BLM is failing miserably at that job,” Best said. “The agency continues to falsely claim wild horses are overpopulated because the agency uses arbitrary population targets despite the National Academy of Sciences determining that BLM’s AMLs are not based on science.”
BLM keeps trying to paint wild horses as an overabundant population that is damaging to our public lands, when the culprits are cattle and sheep. In the Twin Peaks grazing allotment, 1,060 cattle and 13,000 sheep are allowed to graze and fatten up before being slaughtered.
“Friends of Animals hopes the ruling will rein in BLM’s abuse and stop them from harassing Twin Peaks wild horses for the next 10 years,” Best said.