For Immediate Release
June 26, 2015
Jenni Barnes, staff attorney, FoA’s Wildlife Law Program 720.949.7791;
Mike Harris, director, Wildlife Law Program; 720.949.7791;


Friends of Animals files lawsuit to stop Pryor Mountain roundup 

(MONTANA)—Friends of Animals (FoA) has filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to stop the round-up and permanent removal of 20 young wild horses between the ages of 1 and 3 in the Pryor Mountain Herd Management Area (HMA) that is slated for July. 

“We spent six hours driving in the Pryor Mountain Range earlier this month in search of wild horses, and were mortified to see only five mustangs among 24, 641 acres,” said Priscilla Feral, president of FoA. “We know that BLM inflates their numbers and undermines the value and rightful place of wild horses on federal public lands to appease the ranchers it treats as clients. This government agency has already ruined the lives of hundreds of thousands of wild horses—it has zeroed out six of seven wild horse Herd Areas in Montana—and it won't be happy until the most famous herd in North America is dead and gone. FoA refuses to go along with the agency’s extinction plan.” 

The lawsuit states that in reaching the Pryor Mountain Removal Decision, the BLM violated the Free-Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act by authorizing the permanent removal of wild horses prior to making a proper determination that the wild horses were “excess”; failing to consider the recommendations of independent scientists in the field of biology and ecology; and failing to recalculate the appropriate management level (AML) for the Pryor Mountain HMA. The defendants also failed to fulfill their obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, consider reasonable alternatives and fully evaluate the impacts and alternatives to the proposed roundup. 

“The BLM has based the Pryor Mountain Removal Decision on an outdated 2009 Herd Management Area Plan that established an AML of 90-120 wild horses,” said Jenni Barnes, staff attorney for FoA’s Wildlife Law Program. “The AML was based on a 2007 range evaluation, which the BLM was supposed to review on an annual basis. It was not intended to be a onetime determination but rather a fluid process where adjustments are made based upon environmental changes and management needs. There is no indication that BLM has re-calculated the AML since its 2009 decision.”

Furthermore, BLM’s Preliminary Environmental Assessment failed to consider the cumulative impacts of this action with other wild horse management activities, such as the use of the fertility control pesticide, which the BLM has been using on the Pryor Mountain mares since 2001.

When the Humane Society obtained EPA registration for PZP in 2012, the organization never provided evidence that PZP doesn’t have negative side effects…it just provided information about the efficacy of PZP and actually requested waivers for most of the studies ordinarily required from an applicant seeking pesticide registration—including a toxicity study, ecological effects and environmental fate guideline study. The majority of research submitted by HSUS was published by Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick, a veterinarian who manufactures PZP, and did not consider the biological, social and behavioral effects the drug can have on wild horses.

More recent research has demonstrated repeated applications of PZP can cause physical damage to treated mares; it is not completely reversible; it can increase mortality in foals post-PZP effectiveness; and it interferes with herd cohesion, which is critical to the overall health of wild horses. In addition, preventing mares from producing foals can create a genetic bottleneck that may ultimately extinguish the species as a whole.

“The BLM has also failed to analyze the concerns of its own geneticist about the declining genetic diversity of the Pryor Mountain wild horses or to consider the positive impacts of wild horses and the benefits of allowing the population to self-regulate,” Barnes said.  


Friends of Animals, an international animal protection organization founded in 1957, advocates for the rights of animals, free-living and domestic around the world.