Animal advocacy group files lawsuits against wild horse muster

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A legal challenge has been filed against the plan by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to remove 20 young wild horses from the herd in the Pryor Mountains.

Friends of Animals has declared its opposition to the roundup schedulated for July, in which horses aged 1 to 3 will be targeted in the designated herd management area on the Wyoming-Montana border.

“We spent six hours driving in the Pryor Mountain Range earlier this month in search of wild horses, and were mortified to see only five mustangs among 24,641 acres,” said the advocacy group’s president, Priscilla Feral.

The lawsuit argues that the bureau’s planned roundup violates the Free-Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act by authorizing the permanent removal of wild horses prior to making a proper determination that the wild horses were “excess”. It asserts the agency failed to consider the recommendations of independent scientists; and failed to recalculate the appropriate management level for the Pryor Mountain HMA.

“The BLM has based the Pryor Mountain Removal Decision on an outdated 2009 Herd Management Area Plan that established an appropriate management level (AML) of 90-120 wild horses,” said Jenni Barnes, staff attorney for the group’s Wildlife Law Program.

“The AML was based on a 2007 range evaluation, which the BLM was supposed to review on an annual basis. It was not intended to be a onetime determination but rather a fluid process where adjustments are made based upon environmental changes and management needs. There is no indication that BLM has re-calculated the AML since its 2009 decision.”

“The BLM has also failed to analyze the concerns of its own geneticist about the declining genetic diversity of the Pryor Mountain wild horses or to consider the positive impacts of wild horses and the benefits of allowing the population to self-regulate,” Barnes said.

The lawsuit further alleges the agency failed to fulfill their obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act to prepare an environmental impact statement, consider reasonable alternatives, and fully evaluate the impacts and alternatives to the proposed roundup.

The group argues that the BLM’s preliminary environmental assessment failed to consider the cumulative impacts of other wild horse management activities, such as the use of the fertility control agent, PZP, which the BLM has been using on the Pryor Mountain mares since 2001. It expressed concerns over its use.

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