Here is an excellent article By Andrew Cohen in the Atlantic about the lawsuit that the Rock Springs Grazing Association brought against the BLM at the behest of the Department of the Interior. Our wild horses will be the biggest losers in this lawsuit.
“Say you were sitting in a law school classroom taking an exam, or you were on a panel of experts talking about ethics in government, or you were the Inspector General of the Interior Department or a member of Congress, or you were just a plain old citizen who still believes that public officials ought to be honest brokers in conflicts between competing interests — and the following hypothetical were posed to you. What would you think? What would you say? What would you do?
In 2010, Jane Doe was a deputy assistant secretary at the Department of the Interior. With strong ties to the oil and gas industry, over two separate stints at Interior, she was publicly indifferent and sometimes hostile toward the nation’s wild horse herds, which under federal law are supposed to be protected and managed by the Bureau of Land Management. For her positions, she was sharply criticized by wild-horse advocates.
One day that year, some ranchers and livestock operators met with Jane Doe to discuss their frustration about the number of wild horses living and roaming in and around the “checkerboard” area, a mix of private and public land, in a Western state. The BLM, these folks told her, wasn’t doing enough to remove horses from the land — portions of which they lease from the federal government at well below market rates.
There was a decades-old agreement between them and the BLM, the ranchers told Jane Doe, a deal enforced in 1981 by a federal judge. At the time, the feds agreed to manage the herds and remove most of the horses from the Checkerboard except for those the ranchers reluctantly agreed to allow to stay. The feds have reneged on the deal and the terms of the court order, the ranchers now claimed, and something had to be done about it.
Jane Doe listened to these advocates for an industry the Interior Department directly regulates. And then she offered some advice. If she stridently reminded the ranchers of the BLM’s persistent removals of wild horses from the Checkerboard, roundups of thousands of mustangs over the decades which had angered wild horse advocates in the area, it is not reflected in the record.
Instead, what is on the record, what in fact the ranchers later would include in their court filings, is that Jane Doe told the ranchers that “litigation” against the Interior Department “would be necessary to secure additional funding for wild horse gathers.” She had, in effect, told them to sue her own agency to force Congress to pay the cost of ridding the Checkerboard of most of its federally-protected horses.”
Please go here to continue reading the article:
If the “Consent Decree” is signed by the judge, two wild herds, Great Divide Basin and Salt Wells Creek will have their wild herds entirely removed, and the White Mountain and Adobe Town Herds will be subject to sterilization, which is a slow but inevitable way to completely extinguish wild horse populations in the Red Desert of Wyoming.
What can you do to help?
Two organizations, The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and The Cloud Foundation have legal funds that they are using to intervene in this lawsuit and in any further litigation should the Consent Decree be signed.
Here are the links to the legal funds: