Thursday, May 10, 2012
Judge Says “Neigh” To BLM’s Refusal to Consider Expert Declarations about Wild Horse Gelding
A federal judge ruled yesterday that the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) should have considered the declarations of four leading wild horse scientists who criticized the agency’s new radical approach to wild horse management, which involves castrating male horses and returning them to the range with unknown, and likely severe, impacts to individual horses, their herds, and the public’s ability to view these horses in their natural “wild” state. In making its novel decision to castrate hundreds of male horses at the Pancake Complex in Nevada, BLM studiously avoided considering these declarations, despite the fact that they had been submitted to the agency in a prior challenge to the same “pilot” program by conservation organizations in a case that the BLM mooted out by withdrawing the gelding proposal. The court has now ordered the parties to re-commence summary judgment briefing on whether the use of gelding required an Environmental Impact Statement and was consistent with the mandates of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, and whether the agency complied with its legal duties by proposing to permanently remove thousands of horses from the public lands on the grounds that the horses were damaging the range, while leaving tens of thousands of cattle to graze the same lands. The decision can be found here.