Friends of Animals has filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management for its decision to rip more than 900 wild horses from their families and home on the range in California’s Twin Peaks Herd Management Area in September. The lawsuit states that the agency broke the law when it issued its plan because it did not solicit public comments and consult with experts or consider new environmental conditions and scientific studies as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

“While we are hopeful we can put this fire out and save California’s beloved wild horses, overall there needs to be a major overhaul of the Department of the Interior, which oversees the BLM, so that its decisions are no longer based on pressure from the meat industry and others who profit from exploiting public lands,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “Cattle and sheep ranchers won’t be happy until wild horses are completely wiped out. The Dept. of Interior’s complacency is a betrayal of wild horses and a national disgrace.”

The proof of BLM’s ongoing mismanagement of wild horses is in the numbers. A staggering 10,000 sheep and 3,730 cattle are allowed to graze in the Twin Peaks HMA, which is comprised of approximately 800,000 acres near the Nevada border in northern California. However, a sparse 448-758 wild horses are allowed to eke out a life there based on land-use decisions made 23 years ago.

“BLM keeps trying to paint wild horses as an abundant population that is damaging to our public lands, when the culprits are doomed cattle and sheep,” said Jennifer Best, direct of Friends of Animals Wildlife Law Program. “There is emerging evidence that wild horses can contribute to a healthy environment, mitigate the effects of climate change and reduce the risks of wildfire, yet BLM thinks it’s above the law and is relying on outdated analysis from a previous decision made in 2019.”

BLM’s decision also puts the agency on a path to continually harass and remove wild horses for years to come.

“It is undeniable that rounding up wild horses and sending them to off-range holding facilities is cruel and results in the gruesome deaths of many wild horses. Freedom of Information Act records indicate that at least 100 wild horses died during, or shortly after, the 2022 Twin Peaks roundup of 2,111 wild horses,” Best said.