The purpose of the press conference and rally are to better inform the public of the costs and risks of ongoing wild horse roundups which have already eliminated wild horses from 20 million acres designated for their use. Of the 339 herds originally identified for protection, 179 remain on only 11% of public lands and the BLM seeks to remove most of the horses in Southern Wyoming in September.
The Cloud Foundation, American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, Return to Freedom, Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the BLM and its plan to roundup over 800 horses from Adobe Town, Salt Wells and Divide Basin Herd Management Areas (HMAs) known as the Wyoming Checkerboard. The lawsuit alleges that the BLM violated the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (Wild Horse Act) and the Administrative Procedure Act, by authorizing the permanent removal of hundreds of wild horses from public and private lands within these three HMA’s, without conducting any environmental analysis, engaging the public during the decision-making process or making certain statutorily required determinations under the Wild Horse Act. In response to the lawsuit, the BLM has agreed to delay the roundup which had been scheduled to begin on August 20, to at least Sept. 1.
“Adobe Town, Salt Wells and Great Divide Basin are home to the largest free-roaming wild horse herds left in Wyoming,” states Carol Walker, director of field documentation and board member of Wild Horse Freedom Federation. Walker has a bond with the Wyoming herds she has been photographing for the past 10 years. “To lose the wild horses in this vast landscape, known by local residents as the ‘Big Empty,’ would be to lose touch with our western history, heritage and the untamed spirit of the West.”
BLM claims that wild horses need to be removed from public lands to protect rangeland health. However the vast majority of public lands are open to livestock grazing, which causes enormous damage to the land. In most cases, even in the wild horses’ own HMA’s, livestock far outnumber wild horses. According to the BLM’s own data, on average, 68,740 cattle and 10,741 sheep occupy the three HMA’s targeted for roundup, compared to 1,912 wild horses.
“Instead of protecting wild horses, the BLM’s roundups threaten the ongoing survival of wild horse herds in the west,” states Simone Netherlands, President of Respect4Horses added. “Eerily similar to the rainforests of the Amazon, our public lands are being exploited for the benefit of profit driven business.”
“BLM must begin to manage wild horses ‘on the range’ with the goal of balancing reproduction and mortality. Over 70% of our wild horse herds are not large enough to be considered genetically viable, sustainable herds," states Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation "The Wild Horse and Burro Act mandates that the BLM manage wild horses at a sustainable level, which is essential if we are to preserve wild horse herds for future generations of Americans.”