The planned federal roundup of more than 800 mustangs in Wyoming has been delayed pending the outcome of a legal challenge by wild horse advocates.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has agreed to delay the proposed roundup to allow the court time to rule on a motion for a temporary order stopping the roundup.
The application for the injunction was filed late last Friday by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, the Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom, and wild horse photographers Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl.
They have requested a decision by August 29.
The motion seeks to halt the roundup in the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Divide Basin Herd Management Areas (HMAs), which includes a significant area of the so-called checkerboard lands in Wyoming – alternating public and private land parcels.
The roundup was to have started around August 20, but the bureau has agreed to delay it at least until September 1 to give the court time to rule on the motion.
“This proposed roundup threatens to permanently remove all of the wild horses from the private and public checkerboard lands within the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek, and Great Divide Basin herd management area,” the motion states.
“BLM authorized this drastic management action without analyzing any of the environmental consequences of a wild horse roundup of this magnitude, or reasonable alternatives to this action, as required by [the National Environmental Policy Act],” it continues.
“Nor has BLM even purported to make certain statutory determinations required by the [Wild Horse Act] prior to the permanent removal of any wild horses from the range … These clear-cut legal violations demonstrate that BLM’s decision is nothing more than a flagrant attempt to skirt the procedures dictated by governing law in a rush to permanently extirpate nearly a thousand horses from the range, including from public lands.”
The plaintiffs say they will suffer irreparable harm if the roundup takes place and are asking the judge to stop the BLM from removing the horses until after the merits of the case are heard.
The motion is the latest in the ongoing legal battle about the future of wild horses in the Wyoming Checkerboard, a more than 2 million acre swath of public and private land where more than half of the state’s remaining wild horse herds reside.
In 2013, the BLM entered into a consent decree with the Rock Springs Grazing Association agreeing to remove all the wild horses from RSGA’s private lands on the Checkerboard and to consider, through the appropriate public process, zeroing out the wild horse populations in this area.
The advocates say these actions will essentially turn the public lands over to ranchers who graze livestock on these lands at taxpayer-subsidized rates.
The plaintiffs are represented by the public interest Washington D.C. law firm of Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal.