Lawsuit Update from In Defense of Animals

From IDA’s blog

Our lead attorney, William J. Spriggs, delivered a very effective oral argument summarizing our case. Cleverly, he began by telling the judge all the problems with the government’s wild horse and burro management program that we were NOT there to discuss, reciting a litany of BLM’s transgressions resulting from its 30-year history of mismanagement.  Mr. Spriggs said those issues were for another day, then launched into very effective arguments about our case, specifically why the indiscriminate roundup of thousands of horses off of the Calico range was illegal and the mass warehousing of wild horses in holding facilities in Kansas and other non-Western states was never authorized by Congress.

The Legal Team in DC- courtesy IDA

The Justice Department attorney defending BLM countered by attacking our standing, claiming that the plaintiffs would not be harmed by the removal of 80-90 percent of the horses in the Calico range because there would still be horses left in the Complex. He likened helicopters used in roundups to sheep-herding dogs, and said that individualized, on-the-range determinations of the horses’ conditions could not be made because BLM could not get within a mile of them. The DOJ

attorney then claimed that the overriding mandate of the 1971 Act was the maintenance of a healthy range for multiple purposes, and that the BLM was mandated by law to remove horses.  (Mr. Spriggs later remarked to the judge that he wasn’t sure what law the DOJ attorney was referring to, but we were talking about the WILD FREE-ROAMING HORSE and BURRO Act!)

The Honorable Judge Paul Friedman was friendly and engaged throughout the hearing. He asked many excellent questions, and observed that this was an interesting case.

This lawsuit lays bare what we believe are these indisputable facts:

  • The BLM is authorized only to round up horses who are both excess and adoptable.
  • Congress intended for on-the-range management of the horses, with removal as a last resort, only after other methods of population control have been tried and failed. Yet the BLM has thumbed its nose at this mandate, spending three-quarters of its resources to remove and stockpile horses from their home ranges, and less than 3 percent of its budget on range management activities such as water enhancement and field studies to understand wild horse behavior, biology and social dynamics.
  • The long-term holding facilities in Kansas, Oklahoma and South Dakota are patently illegal, because the Secretary of Interior is not authorized to relocate horses to private lands or to lands where they were not found in 1971. The horses in these warehouses have not lost their designation as wild horses nor the federal protections that come with it.

Judge Friedman asked for some additional information on case law, which has been submitted to him, and a decision is expected next week.  The threshold for a preliminary injunction is very high, and even if we don’t succeed on this motion, this hugely important case will likely still go forward (we are seeking both a preliminary and a permanent injunction of the Calico roundup).

Excellent coverage of the hearing was provided  in an Associated Press story and a superb piece on Channel 8 TV in Las Vegas by stellar investigative reporter George Knapp, whose investigative series, Stampede to Oblivion, is a masterpiece exposing the BLM’s 30-year history of malfeasance, mismanagement and cruelty to our nation’s wild horses.

We are deeply grateful to the Herculean effort of our brilliant legal team from Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney — Mr. Spriggs, his partner David Taylor, Ibie Falcuson, Katie Allen, Katie Flood and Marty Scully — launched on behalf of the horses.

We will keep you posted on what happens, and meanwhile — keep your fingers crossed and pray for a good ruling for the wild horses next week!


18 Responses to “Lawsuit Update from In Defense of Animals”

  1. Marilyn Wargo Says:

    With fingers crossed, thanks for this difficult task and what it represents to our nation and all wild horse lovers and advocates and the wild ones you represent. We are with you in spirit! mar

  2. Karen L. Says:

    Thanks to TCF for the update and thanks to Mr. Spriggs for his bold approach! Hopefully this team will become the equivalent of an Innocence Project for equines.

  3. Margaret Says:

    I totally agree–George Knapp is SUPER STELLAR!!!

  4. Ronnie Says:

    Thank you for the update! Knowing what is being said makes me feel a part of the process, as we all have been following this horror of major injustice and cruelty, daily, weekly, monthly…years.

    I have a good feeling about it all. The BLM has pushed to the max, and beyond! I always felt the BLM was “digging their own grave” by each in-your-face brutality, against the law, with no public input allowed.

    I pray Judge Friedman rules in favor of the horses. But if not, the legal process has begun against the DOI, BLM, Czar… The House of BLM just might come falling down…a domino effect.

    The legal team for the horses is right on! Thank you! The Justice Department attorneys defending the BLM? Grasping at straws. And more “fabrications,” i.e., lies.

  5. Janet Ferguson Says:

    I am reading a photographic book about all the different wild horses and ponies in the world. Very interesting. Written by Elwyn Hartley Edwards (English) the editor of Riding magazine for so many years. Sadly, he passed last year, only too aware of the ravages of the Burns Effect. A quote in his book said that the American Mustangs are protected now by law on their lands; sadly, he saw this protection eroded at the end of his life, with no remedy before his death.

    However, he gets all in a snit regarding the Bashkir Curlies and their lack of relation to the American Bashkir populations of the US northwest, claiming no evidence exists; almost shrieking from the pages that horses left the North American continent 8,000 years ago. He seems to have an almost contemptuous view of Americans who think that Bashkirs of the American northwest are related to the Asian horses. Might he have also placed the same stigma on the wild mustang population? If so, having been editor of Riding magazine all those years might certainly have influenced people into considering the horses of North America a “new” introduction. I am just speculating on this and haven’t studied all Mr. Edwards’ last thoughts and writings.

    • Karen L. Says:

      JF, I’m not familiar with this editor or his position on Bashkirs, but as of 2008 there is evidence of America’s wild horses being a native species. Without the sophistication of DNA analysis, such findings were not possible. Here is a fairly concise explanation in this link.

      • Janet Ferguson Says:

        oh, that’s great. Thank you for the link!!

      • Janet Ferguson Says:

        Am reading the replies to the above article. Just this a.m. was re-reading my Elwyn Hartley Edwards and have found some useful info there which I shall formulate into a reply.

        E. H. Edwards, in his book, “Wild Horses” states that there is a form of horse which emerged as the savannahs of North America were evolving following the “lush” stages and that a form of horse developed along with the savannah stage. I think he names the Latin name, too.Will go find out.

      • Janet Ferguson Says:

        OK, here it is: (book, Wild Horses, a Spirit Unbroken by Elwyn Hartley Edwards, 1995) (p.7)
        “. . . .By the Pleistocene period, some six million years ago when secondary forest-type vegetation had given way to a savannah environment supporting wiry grasses, an animal recognisable as a horse was becoming established in the North American continent. This was “Pliohippus,” and was distinguished by being the first animal in the progression leading to “Equus” that had a single hoof. “Pliohippus” represents the lead-in to “Equus” proper and also for the sub-generic group of zebras, asses and ‘hemionids’, the “half-asses.’ . . .
        Five million years after the prototype “Pliohippus,” “Equus caballus” in possibly as many as 20 forms, as well as its related Equidae, had spread from North America over the connecting landbridges into Asia, South America, Europe and Africa.”

      • Janet Ferguson Says:

        P.S. Cannot “sign up” to comment on that article for some reason. If anyone wishes to use the above from Mr. Edwards to comment on the article you certainly may do so.

  6. T.A. Paxton Says:

    I can’t help think the reason for these massive roundups increasing in speed and number is because they KNOW in the long run, legally, they can’t win. They have to do the damage before it’s too late! Could they really think anyone concerned with humane treatment of animals wasn’t going to raise a fuss about running horses down a mountain in winter?
    I recall a story from years ago, regarding a some kind of juvenile detention center that was mistreating the kids. The community found out and fought, using bake sales and car washes to pay legal fees against government agencies with deep pockets. Government LOST! The detention center still housed kids who caused trouble, but it was no longer a warehouse. Instead the kids got an education and help as well as punishment.
    It’s a good thing to remember: Expensive as it is, if one is stubborn enough, determined enough, the good guys can beat deep pockets.
    I just wish they’d make the ruling soon. Kind of damping my holiday spirit thinking of this round up.

    • kas0859ohio Says:

      Everything I’ve read about the BLM and slaughtering mustangs, the proposed slaughter plant in Montana, “shopping” them to out of country buyers to ship overseas, leads me to think they are trying to capture as many horses as possible as fast as possible so there will be no alternative but to slaughter them. Makes me sick to think this but what else are we to think?

      • Janet Ferguson Says:

        I have read that PZP is allowable for animals who are going to be consumed for human consumption. Don Hoglund, “Nobody’s Horses” book.

        This fact, together with the speculation on the slaughter issue, would seem to point to the fact that funding for research into better types of contraceptive methods may not be in the pipeline, since they have now everything they need to “keep their options open” in the near term.

        However, the “need for contraception” seems to have been also “created” by the BLM in making these herd areas smaller and smaller. It’s a broken system.

      • Janet Ferguson Says:

        PZP doesn’t enter the “food chain.”

  7. Susan - NY Says:

    How very odd… how often nowdays it’s the people suing our own government for our rights, for our land, for common sense. While the gov’t uses our taxes to pay lawyers to work against us, to control our resources, and take away our property rights. We never willingly ceded our power or land to the BLM, and we will never give up fighting for the rights of the American people against this preposterous, corrupt, cruel puppet.

    For a look-up of a BLMers salary – by name – to learn what the American people are paying to be lied to, to have our resources ‘managed’ to enrich the corparateers, to eradicate native species – please visit:

    For example, Lili Thomas, who’s been with the BLM for years, and was at the Lorton VA “adoption” day in Sept, made $98,386 base salary for 2008.

    In addition to defending why the BLM won’t allow citizens to actually see (and count!) our wild horses in holding pens – because the taxpayers are paying private “contractors” to house them – ! – the BLM staffers there defended Dave Cattoor, saying he only pled guilty to “misdemenors.” That was a plea bargain agreement. He was originally charged with multiple counts of Federal crimes, conspiracy to steal horses from public land, and sell them to slaughter in Texas.

    The BLM has been investigated over and over again. They keep
    proving they need to be out of the horse business. They can’t be trusted with our land, our animals or our money. The BLM’s arrogance is backfiring; the people won’t back down, not now, not ever.

    I pray the judge sees the common sense here, and agrees that the damage of the roundup should not happen. I hope he sides with the People, to protect this herd – now living peacefully, in good health, and legally – on land belonging to the American people.

  8. Janet Ferguson Says:

    There’s a new article on Animal Law Coalition website, “A Preliminary Injunction for Christmas.”

  9. isopod Says:

    Federal Judge Paul Friedman needs to take some form of action, stance on BLM. I wish he’d tune in to Nancy Grace…’look-out should someone step on her toes’ !!! After all. . . He is a Federal Judge of this uSa, our country & if it were me, I’d most definitely be obeying him! He’ll be a shrinking violet should he let the BLM over ride his decisions again! My opinion is….He won’t do anything of much help, nothing impressive, ….It’ll be a 1st, if he does. besides….He’s done absolutely NOTHING for over 6 months..since last court IDA / blm / jpf. nothing of good will come out of it for the Wild Mustangs of the West. ADOPT all you can, is all Wild Horse lovers can do. Gov’t is not on their side, has never truly been & will never be. GET CLOUD & his family onto ‘anywhere’…because BLM/FRiEdman will kill or disease him too!

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