Warm Springs Horses WIN Round 1 in Court Today

BLM Tries to Get the Case Dismissed, CAES Keeps Fighting to Save Warm Spring Horses From Never being Released

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24 February 2020
©CAES

Citizens Against Equine Slaughter (CAES) has been fighting for the Warm Springs Wild Horses since before the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) gathered them for the purposes of doing a horrendous, inhumane and experimental spay project in October of 2018.

Today we won round 1 of the second case that we’ve filed alleging fraud, theft, and failure to follow several laws. BLM tried to get our case dismissed after alleging we filed the appeal on Monday, January 13, 2020, instead of their deadline which they felt was Friday, January 10, 2020.

The IBLA basically told BLM their interpretation of the law was incorrect and that the game they played in trying to make sure we were not notified was not going to be blindly accepted as BLM giving their word to the Board.

When we first filed suit with the Interior Board for Land Appeals (IBLA), we filed to stop the removal of 97% of the herd and the surgical spay experiments of 200 pregnant mares.

BLM knew we had the law that would stop them from moving forward and has since admitted it. That’s why they tried to get Congress to approve mare sterilizations. That didn’t happen, and BLM is now trying to use private sterilization of wild mares to prove it can be done on the range, but this time it isn’t with the Warm Springs mares because BLM had asked the IBLA to vacate and remand that decision during our appeal. Meaning they told the IBLA nevermind, we aren’t going to do this. IBLA granted that motion and sent BLM back to the drawing board.

However, the horses were already gathered because BLM had broken NEPA laws and gathered the horses using an emergency condition that didn’t meet emergency criteria under their own policy manual.

Then BLM attempted to declare 779 of the horses illegally gathered and removed to holding were excess. We submitted our public comments, following proper procedures. But what BLM did next stole our due process once again.

When BLM was awarded the vacate and remand they removal of those horses was subsequently vacated, they had removed horses with what was then a vacated Decision Record (DR). However, they didn’t return the horses as we thought they would have to.

Instead, BLM a month later they put out this proposed plan to determine 779 of them were excess and announcing they would only return 66 horses. This as we stated above, is something we submitted a comment on, and we were opposed to the removal of so many horses from the herd for genetic issues it would create.

So, knowing we would again file an appeal of this second decision…BLM simply neglected to notify CAES of the final DR. This is the second time BLM stole any chance of due process to fight for the herd to remain on the range.

Now, in this second suit, we have filed, the BLM had issued a third DR claiming that not only were those 779 of the 845 gathered excess, but they were claiming an additional 55 horses were now excess and would not be returned.

Before CAES saw this 3rd DR we had sent in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA request for public records, asking for the current whereabouts of horses gathered from several Herd Management Areas (HMAs) from Oregon that the Burns District Office oversees. Warm Springs was one of those HMAs.

Within a couple days BLM announced this third DR. And a few days later we received the FOIA documents. At that point, we sent a 4 person team to document the horses and their tag numbers at the holding facility. We found that there were not the number of horses there that BLM claimed.

So we filed another suit with the IBLA. This time we alleged fraud and theft because horses are missing and BLM sent us documents claiming horses were released when we found them in the holding pens. At least one such UN-released horse was from Warm Springs. BLM had claimed of the 845 removed a total now of 804 were excess and claimed 11 had been released in October of 2019.

The numbers also did not add up. If BLM had deemed 804 were excess and 11 were released that left 30 horses right? Well according to the FOIA documents 79 of those 845 horses had died. So we studied the numbers and reviewed all BLM documentation.

This led us to an intricate, detailed chart on the numbers that provided no answers. Where were the foals of at least 200 pregnant mares BLM planned to sterilize? Where were all these horses that were supposed to be in the holding pens per the FOIA documents, but not there when our team went one month later?

And once again, BLM did not notify us of this second DR, which didn’t have a comment period for the public (2 violations of NEPA).

So, of course BLM tries to play semantics and claim we filed this suit late. Well, we counted from the day we notice in the mail, which is exactly what the law says we must do. BLM claimed to have emailed it to us earlier but provides no proof that they sent it to us through email. We did not receive the notice until it was mailed to our PO Box.

The IBLA today requested we provide the date we received the notice because that is the date where our 30 days to file an appeal begins! The IBLA additionally is holding our stay in abeyance. Our stay asked that BLM not be allowed to get rid of ANY Warm Springs horse through adoption, sales or transfer until the case has been heard.

BLM, because this DR was not considered effective upon issuance, meaning BLM cannot act on the DR and cannot move those Warm Springs horses until the case is decided. However, BLM has already violated that by shipping dozens of them to Germany and just ONE HOUR after this IBLA decision was made the BLM announced an adoption event from the holding facility in Oregon where the Warm Springs horses are. AGAIN violating the laws.

While other organizations who are allegedly in court over the original DR of this herd, and other who were have given up, we are the only ones who have not given up on this herd, because with our partners, Wild Horse Observers Association (WHOA) we know wild horses can be returned to the range by a court’s ruling. We know that because WHOA has done it.

Call BLM Burns District Office and tell them the Warm Springs horses are in court and cannot be on the adoption online! Keep the Warm Springs horses there and stop breaking the laws!

Burns BLM: 541-573-4400

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