BLM Allegedly Attempts to Build False Emergency to Avoid Court and Eradicate Wild Horse Herd
Washington D.C., (WHFF) – On June 22nd, 2012 Wild Horse Advocacy groups filed an “Emergency Motion for Stay of Threatened Emergency Gather” against Director of the Department of the Interior (DoI) Ken Salazar and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in an attempt to “head off” what is believed to be an artificial emergency generated by the BLM in an effort to eradicate Colorado’s West Douglas Wild Horse Herd and by-pass on-going litigation to prevent the agency from doing same.
Plaintiffs Colorado Wild Horse & Burro Coalition, Front Range Equine Rescue, Habitat for Horses, Cloud Foundation, Don and Toni Moore, supported by Wild Horse Freedom Federation, have spent years locked in a legal battle to prevent the BLM from furthering their long standing goal of removing the entire North West Colorado wild horse herd from their native public land. The organizations collectively allege that they have credible evidence to dispute the BLM’s assertion that a drought emergency exists in the area and the horses must be removed for their own safety.
Last week the BLM issued two separate warnings to the court that the horses were in distress but the Wild Horse advocacy groups decry these claims after an intensive on-site investigation and survey of the area in question.
In his declaration to the court, local resident and plaintiff Dr. Don Moore states,
“…in areas where the horses are found there is plenty of fresh water flowing. Some of it flows underground but comes up aboveground in “seeps,” which are areas where water bubbles up from freshwater springs beneath the ground and which wild horses regularly find, access, and drink from. We saw many seeps in the past week with a length and a depth sufficient to support the horses. There is, based on my knowledge and experience of this area and these horses, ample fresh water even though an untrained eye might not appreciate the available water in the area.
He further states:
“I observed fresh feces from the wild horses and determined that the horses were not dehydrated, based on the size and consistency of the samples observed. Visually the horses exhibited no signs of dehydration, which could include thin body condition or emaciation.”
Lauryn Wachs, Associate Director of the Cloud Foundation, also traveled to the area where the BLM claims there is no water for the horses and said,
“In the past week in the West Douglas Herd Area I observed horses accessing natural water from “seeps” where fresh water was flowing. It was also clear there was ample water for the horses as I observed four horses who were wet, obviously from rolling in mud, a sure sign of available water.”
R.T. Fitch, volunteer president of WHFF one of the funding organizations added,
“This is an old Mustanger trick used by the BLM to circumvent the courts and accomplish what they have always wanted to do, wipe out this entire herd.” Fitch continued, “Once again it appears that the BLM is using backroom tactics in an effort to serve their special cattle grazing interests who have joined them in this fight. Private cattle stay, public wild horses go; it’s nothing short of insanity.”
The battle over the West Douglas herd is nearly two decades old, and only through the efforts of concerned citizens and organizations have the horses been saved from the BLM’s desire to remove them all from their homelands. In 2009, concerned citizens and organizations won the first case in the United States against BLM’s practices of eliminating wild horse herds when Judge Collyer set aside BLM’s 2008 roundup plans. In 2010 advocates again sued the BLM and the BLM withdrew its plans to decimate the herd. Likewise, in 2011 the BLM was held at bay by the advocacy groups.