The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

Observations: Tuscarora Court Ruling, by Willis Lamm

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on July 17, 2010


Wild horses have had a pretty good day today.

The judge in the Tuscarora roundup case ruled that BLM’s policies
regarding the press and observers at gathers were unconstitutional and
that their designations of closed areas were too large and too vague.

The judge did lift the stay on the roundup, however given that this
roundup has been allowed to evolve into a true emergency, that was an
appropriate decision.

There are people from the other side already claiming that the original
stay increased the death and suffering of Tuscarora horses and therefore
it is the plaintiffs’ (advocates’) fault that they weren’t brought in
sooner. However here is what appears to have really happened.

It appears that BLM had no clue as to what was going on out there and
they failed in their Congressionally mandated responsibility to protect
the horses. Since BLM supposedly surveyed the area being gathered, they
should have recognized there was a problem. In the words of one
rancher, “Those ponds don’t dry up overnight.”

It is my understanding that BLM’s initial arguments did not mention
emergency conditions in the gather area. As a result the plaintiffs
could not be expected to have any knowledge of those conditions, and
therefore they did not have the opportunity to adjust their position
regarding a temporary injunction based on knowledge that BLM should (and
possibly failed to) have acquired. However when BLM finally revealed
that they had a true emergency, the judge made the right call and caused
no further impediment to BLM’s getting these horses secured. Horse
safety trumps legal wrangling. Therefore it is BLM that is fully
responsible for the outcome of this tragedy, as it should be.

BLM is required by law to protect, manage and control wild horses. The
law doesn’t say that they are mandated only to round them up, or that
they can fail to protect them because they are too busy removing
“estrays” for the state, or that their management and control activities
can be conducted in ways that diminish their protection.

The Animal Law Coalition quotes BLM’s Gene Seidlitz as stating, “We are
not the bureau of horses”. Maybe we should send Mr. Seidlitz a copy of
the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

“:O) Willis

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4 Responses to “Observations: Tuscarora Court Ruling, by Willis Lamm”

  1. Jan said

    so this means the blm will use helicopters and chase horses in 100 degree heat and more will die – in a rescue attempt – why cant they go in and drive out by horseback at a slower pace – in stead of running them to death – i think that judge shd be one of the observers and see how the blm does treat the wild horses

  2. SHIRLEY LE GARDE said

    VERY GOOD MR. WILLIS NOW YOU ARE REPORTING LIKE SOMEONE WHO REALLY CARES FOR THE HORSES AND SEES BOTH SIDES. THE BLM IS NOT DOING ITS JOB. THEY SET IN WASHINGTON AND GIVE ORDER BUT MORE THAN LIKELY THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO RIDE,FEED OR TAKE CARE OF A HORSE. HOW CAN ANYONE MAKE A DECISION ON THE CARE OF A HORSE WHEN HE HAS NO EXPERIENCE. ONE THING FOR CERTAIN SALAZAR MAY CLAIM TO BE A RANCHER BUT HE CERTAINLY DOES NOT ACT LIKE ONE.

    • Shirley,

      I spend at least 200 days a year out on the range working with wild horses, most recently hauling water up to where springs have given up the ghost during this heat wave and hauling panels out to Fallon for the Pilot Valley horse rescue project. Some of us do this stuff nearly every day and have done so for years. There’s no “now” involved with it.

      Your point about Salazar is very intriguing. I agree that “Cattleman Ken” would have gone bust if he looked after his private livestock like his agency looks after the wild free-roaming horses.

      The problem with Tuscarora is that BLM was so asleep at the wheel and the situation was allowed to become so bad that there are few options to bringing the horses in. Most of them will probably require veterinary attention or suffer the effects of “water intoxication.” My opinion is that this whole tragedy could have been prevented had a couple of people at BLM done their jobs, and you can bet BLM knows my feelings about this.

      My message is to stay on BLM like stinging bees on a bear until BLM determines who was responsible for this mess and holds him/her/them accountable. By all accounts Bob Abbey is mad and we advocates need to keep our cool so that Abbey stays mad at the screwups in BLM and doesn’t redirect his focus towards us. But that doesn’t mean that we should let up pressing Congress and President Obama for an overhaul of BLM’s horse program.

      Also we need to stay clear headed and wait for the Review Team to finish their investigation. It’s headed up by Robin Lohnes, a horse person, so there’s a fair chance that the team will get to the bottom of this mess.

      I’m hearing intel that the next “crisis” could be at the Six Mile Allotment where there are too many horses for the remaining resources. I’d bet that if they were Cattleman Ken’s cows, he’d be providing water and supplementary hay until the situation could be evaluated.

      By the way, there have been rumors going around the internet about cattle being seen out at Tuscarora. When I last looked at the grazing permit summary, I recall all the permit seasons ended months ago. However there are lots of sections of private lands up there. If a private landowner wants to feed and water cows on his/her private property, it’s really none of our business and doesn’t relate to the horse crisis.

      I have been told by multiple sources that some of the private landowners are letting horses drink from their private stock sources, however apparently most of the horses are not near those water sources. But perhaps a few of these horses will be spared this misery.

      “:O) Willis

      • Willis, Since we could not observe we speculate. Why would these horses be hauled off on long, waterless truck journeys if they have been through so much?? This seems to be a bit quick and very rough. mar

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