One of Friends of Animals’ New Year’s resolution is to continue going to the wall for America’s wild horses—and staff from our Wildlife Law Program is more energized than ever as we come off the heels of a number of victories in 2015.
Most recently, because of ongoing Friends of Animals’ litigation (other groups bailed and dropped their lawsuits), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) filed a declaration with the court to withdraw its July 31, 2015 notice, which classified wild horses in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona as “unauthorized livestock” and authorized their “impoundment”— so they could be auctioned off, sold privately or disposed of. Our Wildlife Law Program Director Michael Harris said about the case: “Friends of Animals is able to dismiss this case because we have been able to achieve a legally binding withdrawal of the roundup notice. This is huge. We feel that it was important that it was legally binding because we wanted to make sure that Friends of Animals, and our members, could rest easy that the U.S. Forest Service wasn’t just going to go in at another time and round these animals up under that notice.”
Friends of Animals had filed a lawsuit in August against the USFS to stop the round-up and permanent removal of wild horses in Tonto National Forest in Arizona. Earlier in 2015, Friends of Animals intervened in a State of Wyoming case on behalf of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and won. In this case, the state had decided to sue to force BLM to remove more wild horses from public lands, claiming that wild horse populations exceed appropriate management levels (AML) in seven herd areas. The Court granted BLM’s motion for summary judgement finding that the BLM did not have an obligation to remove horses as soon as the population exceeded the AML.
And in February of 2015, U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks granted Friends of Animals a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) round-up and permanent removal of 200 wild horses in the Pine Nut Herd Management Area (HMA) and the round-up of another 132 wild horses so that an estimated 66 mares can be given the fertility control drug PZP.
Hicks said that with the proposed Pine Nut roundup, which was slated to begin Feb. 20, 2015, the BLM had failed to satisfy the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and other federal laws that are applicable. Shortly thereafter, BLM conceded and cancelled the roundup of Nevada’s beloved Pine Nut Herd.
FoA also has ongoing litigation for the Pryor Mountain wild horses in Montana as well as the West Douglas herd in Colorado. In addition to our litigation, no other group has been on the front lines raising awareness about the plight of America’s last wild horses like FoA. In 2015, we disrupted two BLM meetings in Nevada, staging a die-in at one, and when the Billings, Montana, Field Office asked for comments in June about its proposed roundup and removal of at least 25 “adoptable” “excess” horses between the ages of 1 and 3—nearly all of the youth of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd—FoA, delivered comments in person and presented the “Worst Government Agency” award to the Billings’ staff for treating wild horses as pests that need to be controlled.
In September FoA flew to Oklahoma City disrupt the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting to denounce BLM’s plan to spend millions of dollars on research aimed at developing new fertility control measures to use on America’s wild horses. Speaking of fertility control, Friends of Animals is the only wild horse advocacy group challenging its use on America’s wild horses. In May, the organization filed a legal petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requesting the agency consider new scientific evidence demonstrating the need to cancel the registration of porcine zona pellucida (PZP) for population control of America’s wild horses and burros, which was issued to the Humane Society of the United States in 2012. Information is now available to the EPA regarding the unintended—and previously undisclosed—side effects on both targeted mares and wild horses in general. It not only shows unreasonable adverse effects, but also indicates the use of PZP on wild horses likely violates the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971.
And finally, in October, we welcomed three wild horses, Comanche, Bindi and Moxie to our sanctuary in Texas. They had been stolen from their homes in Nevada and Colorado—and the sanctuary will provide a place for them to live out their lives with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Please support this far-reaching, successful work by donating now. So many wild horses still need our help. Click here to become a member.