In December of 2014, the governor of the state of Wyoming, Matt Mead, tried to sue the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to force the agency to round up hundreds of wild horses from public land in the state, and yesterday, a federal appeals court basically told him to pound sand by dismissing the lawsuit. Friends of Animals intervened in the case to support BLM’s decision to reject the governor’s request, and while we see this as a positive step, we are still appalled and concerned by the anti-wild horse attitude of the governor and the state of Wyoming, which are beholden to cattle and sheep ranchers.
We cannot forget that in September and October of 2014, BLM rounded up more than 1,200 wild horses from the Checkerboard lands within the Great Divide Basin, Salt Wells Creek and the Adobe Town HMAs, to satisfy a Consent Decree BLM signed with a private ranching organization in 2013. Friends of Animals could not stand back and do nothing. We engaged in a civil disobedience action on Sept. 22 outside the Rock Springs Holding Facility. We then descended upon the BLM’s Rock Springs Field Office with banners and posters and made speeches through a megaphone. We were disgusted that there were a measly 1,912 wild horses within the three HMAS targeted for roundup, yet 356,222 cattle and 45,206 sheep were allowed to graze there.
The state’s case really didn’t stand a chance in court, and American taxpayer should be angry that the anti-horse element in Wyoming brought such a frivolous lawsuit to court and wasted their money on such ridiculous claims. The Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 does not define appropriate management level (AML), and this case underscored that BLM has no duty to roundup wild horses if the AML is exceeded.
Of course the truth is, wild horses are not overpopulated—doomed cattle and sheep are overpopulated and degrading the land, and should be removed from Herd Management Areas altogether.