Wyoming Authorities To Oppose Mustang Gather Lawsuit

The state of Wyoming will oppose a lawsuit aimed at stopping the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from gathering horses from two ranges in that state.

The BLM is slated to begin gathering approximately 873 animals from the White Mountain and Little Colorado Wild Horse Management areas on Aug. 16. Following the round-up, approximately 177 geldings will be released back to the ranges. None of the gathered mares will be returned to the range.

In a complaint filed on July 25 in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, the Western Watersheds Project and the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), along with Donna and Greg Duckworth and Carol Walker, asked the court to prevent the gather on grounds that the BLM's gather plan will irreparably disrupt the nature and vitality of the herds.

Shortly after the suit was filed, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead announced that he was reviewing specifics of the court action to determine if the cases affects a 2003 consent decree between the state and the BLM is intended to balance public land use in Wyoming. The consent decree establishes herd management areas and appropriate herd numbers for those areas.

Dean Bolstad, acting chief of the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program said no other consent or other similar agreements exist between the agency and other states.

On July 29, Mead's spokesman Renny MacKay said that Wyoming will oppose the lawsuit.

"The state of Wyoming does plan to file intervener status on this suit," MacKay said. "The goal is to defend the consent decree."

Suzanne Roy, AWHPC spokeswoman, said the intervention is rooted in official state policy to support Wyoming's commercial livestock industry.

"Even though Wyoming advertises its wild horses to as a reason for people to visit, Wyoming 's anti-wild horse policy---like BLM policy--is driven by the commercial livestock industry, which views the mustangs as competition for cheap cattle and sheep grazing on our public lands," Roy said.

A hearing date for the case is still pending.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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