We often get asked, why don’t you sue? And the answer is, we do!
When considering potential litigation, there are many factors our expert legal teams consider, including the viability of legal action, and the precedent the lawsuit will set if we win and if we lose. We take on litigation that will have the biggest impact on our wild horses for years to come.
Right now, we have two major lawsuits in federal court. One is against the alleged illegal implementation of the Adoption Incentive Program, and the other is to protect Wyoming's cherished wild herds.
Recently, on behalf of AWHC and our co-plaintiffs, our lawyers at Eubanks and Associates, PLLC filed an opening brief in our Wyoming wild horse litigation.
This case is the culmination of a decade-long battle to defend the wild horses of the Wyoming Checkerboard against demands by the Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGA) to remove these animals from more than 2 million acres of land in the southwestern part of the state. RSGA members graze private livestock on the public lands within the Checkerboard (and on solid public land blocks outside the Checkerboard) and view wild horses as competition for cheap forage available through tax-subsidized grazing fees.
WHAT THIS MEANS
Our opening brief is the second step in the legal process. First, our attorneys filed our complaint on May 10, 2023. Now, we’re moving into the merits phase of the litigation. The Opening Merits brief lays out our argument, based on the agency’s decision-making record, ultimately for the court to decide the merits of the claims raised in the complaint.
WE HAVE A STRONG CASE
The heart of this case lies with the irrefutable fact, cemented into law by Congress, that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) cannot eradicate wild horse herds merely because it's inconvenient to manage them or because private landowners adjacent to or within Herd Management Area (HMA) boundaries demand their removal.
“Because BLM has completely disregarded Congress’s unambiguous limitations on the agency’s public land removal authority, that alone is fatal to BLM’s decision to eradicate these wild horse herds, adjust their AMLs, and remove more than a thousand horses from the range.” - Petitioner’s Brief
WHAT’S AT STAKE
If the court permits the BLM to eliminate long-standing wild horse herds in Wyoming at the behest of private landowners or lessees, it would establish a dangerous precedent that could jeopardize herds across the West, as the majority of HMAs are adjacent to or intermixed with private lands.
AWHC has joined forces in this litigation with: The Animal Welfare Institute, The Western Watersheds Project, photographer Carol Walker, photographer Kimerlee Curyl and Dr. Chad Hanson.
Stay tuned for more updates on both these cases as they come!