We have a cheer for a U.S. federal court judge who handed wild horses in Idaho a great victory—ruling that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated environmental laws in planning to sterilize a herd of wild horses in southwestern Idaho.

“This is another example of BLM’s ongoing attempt to manage wild horses in a zoo-like setting, taking away the very freedoms that have long made these horses a unique part of the western landscape,” commented Mike Harris, director of Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program.

In January 2016, a group of advocates filed a lawsuit in the Idaho District Court against the BLM, charging that the agency’s plan to permanently sterilize the entire herd of wild horses in the nearly 100,000-acre Saylor Creek Herd Management Area violates the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 and the National Environmental Policy Act.

On Sept. 29, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge noted, in his 44-page ruling, that the BLM failed to analyze the consequences of the action, and ordered the agency to reconsider its decision. “The BLM’s decision in this case is arbitrary and capricious because it did not consider the significant impacts its decision may have on the free-roaming nature of the herd nor explain why its decision is appropriate despite those impacts,” Lodge stated.