Friends of Animals has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. challenging two of the Bureau of Land Management’s 10-year management plans that authorize fertility control and ongoing multiple roundups and removals of wild horses from Nevada’s Pine Nut Mountain and Utah’s Muddy Creek herd management areas (HMAS).

“BLM desires to take this type of long-range, but short-sighted, approach to manage wild horses for nearly all HMAs to avoid further scrutiny of its plan to virtually zero out wild horse populations on public lands,” said Michael Harris, director of Friends of Animals Wildlife Law Program. “It is no coincidence that the move toward these 10-year plans, without any need to collect new data or engage the public, comes on the heels of the agency’s May 25 decision to sell off dozens of horses to get around a Congressional ban on slaughter.”

FoA challenged the May 25 decision earlier this month. 

In its current lawsuit, FoA states that in adopting the Pine Nut 10-Year Plan, which identifies an initial roundup of 600 or more horses, and the Muddy Creek 10-Year Plan, which authorizes the roundup of approximately 148 wild horses, BLM has disregarded its statutory and regulatory obligation to undertake roundup-specific analysis of the horses and their habitat. The BLM is also ignoring its responsibility to ensure public participation in such decisions.

It also states that in adopting these plans, BLM has significantly increased the likelihood that future wild horse removals and fertility control treatments will be based on obsolete forage data and outdated appropriate management level data.

Adding insult to injury, both plans conclude that PZP contraception appears to be temporary and reversible. However there are several studies demonstrating that fertility control treatments may cause irreversible sterility in mares as well as out of season births, band instability and general decline in immune function.

BLM is proposing similar longterm roundup plans in several other HMAS.

“The BLM feels more emboldened than ever because of the Trump administration to completely disregard the Wild Horse and Burro Act, which requires the agency to protect and manage wild free-roaming horses in a manner that is designed to achieve and maintain a thriving, natural ecological balance on public lands,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “The only thing this administration cares about is courting oil and gas drillers and selling off public lands, and the only thing the BLM cares about is treating ranchers as clients. It’s a deadly combination for wild horses on public lands and we won’t stand by and do nothing.”