Judge Allows Wild Horse Advocates to Join Wyoming Case

A Wyoming U.S. District Court judge has granted intervenor status to wild horse groups in connection with a lawsuit brought by the Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGA) against the U.S. Department of Interior earlier this year. The judicial order allows the groups, which are not parties to the original lawsuit, to join the case.

In July, the RSGA petitioned the court to enforce a 1981 court judgment directing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to remove all the wild horses that had strayed onto private lands within a specific block of land spanning 40 miles wide and 80 miles long and covering approximately 2 million acres. The area is home to the BLM's Salt Wells Creek, Great Divide Basis, White Mountain, and Little Colorado Herd Management Areas.

Prior to the 1981 order, the RSGA agreed that 500 BLM mustangs could remain on the private lands. The July 2011 lawsuit claims that the BLM has not adhered to the previous agreement. The lawsuit seeks the removal of wild horses residing on public lands that lie adjacent to the private lands.

Subsequently three wild horse advocacy groups--the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB), and The Cloud Foundation--sought intervenor status in the case.

On Nov. 2, U.S. Magistrate Judge Scott W. Skavdahl, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming granted the groups intervenor status on grounds that the groups' interest in "preserving the wild horses in their current habitat are directly threatened by this lawsuit."

Karen Sussman, president of the ISPMB, said the order allows the groups to represent mustangs' interest in the lawsuit: "As a party to the original agreement establishing population levels in this area, we will vigorously defend the Wyoming 's wild horses and work toward an agreement that keeps them free where they belong on our public lands."

BLM Spokesman Tom Gorey declined comment on the order.

The lawsuit remains 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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