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Wild Horses Removed, Sterilized Without Public Input: Suit (1)

Nov. 12, 2019, 7:50 PMUpdated: Nov. 13, 2019, 3:27 PM

A federal government plan for managing wild horses in northern California undermines public participation and threatens the health and viability of the herd, a complaint filed in the Eastern District of California alleges.

The Bureau of Land Management’s 10-year plan for the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area authorizes rounding up and permanently removing over 80% of wild horses and burros, using chemical fertility control treatments, altering the natural sex ratio of horses on the range, and castrating an undisclosed number of stallions.

The BLM “has never proposed to continually roundup wild horses for ten-years based on a previously established population target,” Friends of Animals says in its Nov. 11 complaint.

The public wasn’t given a chance to comment on the plan, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, the group says.

But BLM did hold a public comment period, from May 30 to July 1, a BLM spokesman said Nov. 12.

“To improve long-term planning that benefits both herd and land health, the BLM may issue a management decision for a herd that includes needed actions to control population growth over a ten-year period,” he said.

Causes of Action: National Environmental Policy Act; Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act; Administrative Procedure Act.

Relief: Vacate and remand the plan; enjoin the removal of wild horses and burros and the use of population control measures.

Attorneys: Michael Ray Harris of Friends of Animals filed the complaint.

The case is Friends of Animals v. Bittner, E.D. Cal., No. 19-at-827, 11/11/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Perry Cooper in Washington at pcooper@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloombergenvironment.com