Animal Welfare Groups Respond to Federal Ruling that Fails to Protect Colorado Wild Horse Herd
NEW YORKThe ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), along with Habitat for Horses, the Cloud Foundation, and Dr. Don and Toni Moore, today responded to a federal judge’s ruling that declined to issue an injunction preventing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from continuing its inhumane and illegal roundup of wild horses from Colorado’s North Piceance herd area. The case, brought against U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in New York, charged that the BLM’s ongoing treatment of America’s federally protected wild horse herds violates the National Environmental Protection Act, as well as the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.
The BLM had dropped its immediate attempt to relocate the case from New York to Colorado or Washington D.C., making this the first case against the BLM to be heard in New York. “While we are disappointed by yesterday’s ruling, we are encouraged by the court’s acknowledgment that the removal of these iconic horses impacts all Americans,” said Matt Bershadker, senior vice president of ASPCA Anti-Cruelty. “The ASPCA is committed to protecting our nation’s wild horses.”
U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley acknowledged that the plaintiffs would undoubtedly suffer irreparable harm from the roundup of the wild horse herd. The court further acknowledged the permanent injury caused to Dr. Don Moore, a Colorado veterinarian who has personally known the Piceance-North Douglas Herd for decades. "Although we did not get the win that we were aiming for," stated Jerry Finch, founder and president of Habitat for Horses, “we stood fast in a contested venue and got the court to agree to the damage done to American citizens when the BLM pulls our wild mustangs from their rightful land. That in its own right is huge.”
"I would be lying if I said that I am not disappointed," said R.T. Fitch, volunteer executive director of the funding HfH Advisory Council, "but it's not about me, you or anything else other than the horses. That's where my feelings reside. It's time for the American wild horse to catch a break, and we intend to see that promise through."
More than 19 million acres originally designated for wild horses have been slowly whittled away for cattle grazing, making the horses both the victims and targets for removal. The use of helicopters to run the terrified horses over miles of scorching desert has resulted in serious injuries and several horse deaths throughout the summer, as well as one-half or more of the wild horse population languishing in long-term holding pens.
"The fight to save the last of the mustangs is just beginning,” said Ginger Kathrens, director of the Cloud Foundation. "We will continue to take our message to Congress, the courts and to an increasingly concerned public."
For more information on the BLM’s mismanagement of America’s wild horses, please visit www.aspca.org. To learn more about the Habitat for Horses Advisory Council, please visit www.hfhadvisorycouncil.org, and for information on the Cloud Foundation, go to www.cloudfoundation.org.