Monday, July 29, 2013

Update - Wild Horse Education – By guest blogger Marta Williams on behalf of Laura Leigh

Howdy Folks,

Today we have a guest blogger, Marta Williams of the Wild Horse Education organization sharing an update on their continuing battle to help save and protect our wild horses. There is much formation here, and it is important to note, the horrible suffering continues. Even though WHE has won cases in court against the BLM there is much more that is needed if the suffering is going to be stopped. "WHE is not seeing a “meeting of the minds” in terms of their federal law suits against BLM." Please read, share and consider helping. There are a few important links in the story, too.

Update - Wild Horse Education – By guest blogger Marta Williams on behalf of Laura Leigh

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roundup schedule for this season includes upwards of 1,300 horses and burros to be taken within the next eight weeks alone. Most of them are healthy and don’t need to be removed from the wild. Wild Horse Education (WHE) has been in the field documenting the situation at areas on the target list, and the group is gearing up to go back in the field to document the inhumane treatment that has become a signature of BLM roundups. 

BLM chasing foal in the heat of summer at Jackson Mountain roundup.
WHE has also been documenting the condition of the animals in short and long term BLM holding  (read more) and is urging BLM to halt all roundups except those that are absolutely necessary if animals are starving or the range is irretrievably degraded. Some of the removals of healthy herds in Nevada have been dropped in favor of more necessary removals – that is progress! WHE just completed a written field assessment of Gold Mountain and Fish Lake Valley  (see report) and plans to do more such assessments as time and funding permits.

Light skin horse with critical sunburn in BLM Holding facility.
However, WHE is not seeing a “meeting of the minds” in terms of their federal law suits against BLM. A Reno judge has remanded the WHE First Amendment Case back to the Ninth Circuit Court. This means that WHE has had to put in more long hard volunteer hours to revise the case, and pay for more filings, more records and more printing. The first Amendment Case originated during a roundup in Silver King in 2010 when WHE founder, Laura Leigh, was restricted by BLM and denied access to what was really happening. The Ninth Circuit Court heard this case once already,  when a Reno Court initially dismissed it, and the Ninth Circuit ruled that Leigh’s and the public’s right to know and see what the government is doing were violated. WHE is confident of finally winning the First Amendment case in a return to the Ninth Circuit Court. This will assure that the public has access to what BLM is doing to our wild herds at all roundups and holding facilities, many of which are now off limits. 

WHE has also had to scramble to amend the other two cases pending in federal court against BLM to include First Amendment components. These two cases, Owyhee and Triple B, concern BLM’s observed inhumane treatment of our wild horses and burros.

Horses run into barber wire fence at Owyhee Roundup.
If you have ever read through a legal brief, you will understand the incredible amount of work involved for Plaintiff Leigh and WHE attorney, Gordon Cowan, working on a shoestring budget under the intense pressure of court-designated deadlines. If WHE is successful in these cases it will mean that BLM will have to adhere to a court-dictated humane treatment standard from roundup to final disposition for all our wild horses and burros. 

The Owyhee case goes further into outlining BLM’s flawed method of determining what they call “excess” animals. The BLM claims horses move between five separate Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in the Owyhee Complex of HMAs, yet there is no data to support this claim. WHE has pointed out this lack of adequate data for years. The  recent National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report (read more), commissioned by BLM to evaluate the Agency’s wild horse and burro program, corroborated this lack and recommended, among other things, that the BLM stop all roundups until adequate data is acquired. The NAS report cited a lack of any scientific method employed in the government roundup machine and asserted that current BLM roundup activity may actually be increasing the reproduction rate of wild horses and burros due to the intense stress on the populations.

WHE has recently set up a volunteer program called Keep Them in the Wild, to explore all possible avenues for creating a sane management program for wild horses and burros in the wild. If you want to volunteer you can go to the Keep Them in the Wild website.

Amidst all this intense activity, Laura Leigh was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has undergone surgery and is doing well with a good prognosis.

Laura Leigh with captive wild horses at BLM Holding Facility.
Even though she is supposed to be conserving her energy, she and Attorney Cowan have filed seven briefs in the last 30 days with no sign of the pressure letting up. With all that is going on and all they are doing for the wild herds, this tiny group could really use your support right now; please stand with them to secure a future for the wild horses and burros. Wild Horse Education website. 

Please help us help the wild horses - Marta Williams.

Thank you Marta, Laura and WHE for all you do, and folks if you can help by spreading the word, volunteering or donating, please do. 

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry 


  1. The power of one can inspire others. The public has so little awareness of everything that the media chooses not to cover. It is up to the rest of us to pass the word and do what we can even if it is just to click the 'share' button.

    1. You are so right, Carol. And thank you for all you do to help the voiceless ...