I’m just back from Utah, where we faced off in federal court against 18 ranchers who want wild horses gone from public lands they think of as their own.
Our attorney clearly laid out the legal arguments against the ranchers’ claim that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is legally required to "immediately" remove hundreds of so-called "excess" wild horses from eight Herd Management Areas in southern Utah.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of this case: A ruling from the court in favor of the ranchers could result in the legally-mandated roundup and removal of thousands more wild horses and burros from the range.
This would be a disaster! With holding facilities full, capturing thousands of horses with nowhere to put them could bring us one step closer to the slaughter or mass killing of these cherished animals.
After the hearing, we were accosted by a rancher, who identified himself as a Utah State Representative. This finger-pointing public official excoriated us for daring to challenge the ranchers’ position. He even called us stupid! When we politely reminded him that the public lands belong to all Americans, he angrily disagreed, arguing that the public lands actually belong to the ranchers who have permits to graze cattle on them!!
Not fighting is not an option. The stakes are too high: The freedom and lives of tens of thousands of wild horses and burros are on the line.
Thank you for your compassion and dedication to protecting the majestic wild horses and burros of the American West!
Suzanne Roy, Executive Director
p.s. If you’d like to read more about last week’s hearing, you can do so here.