By The Cloud Foundation
Washington, DC (Sept. 15, 2015) - Today, Federal Judge Christopher R. Cooper denied a Preliminary Injunction to stop the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from carrying out its decades old quest to remove the entire West Douglas wild horse herd. Tomorrow the BLM will begin a helicopter roundup and removal of wild horses in and around the herd area with the ultimate goal of zeroing out the herd (area).
The lawsuit was brought by The Cloud Foundation (TCF), Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF), The Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition (CWHBC), Dr. Don Moore and Toni Moore of Fruita, CO., and Barb Flores of Greeley, CO, to protect this herd and the neighboring Piceance East Douglas herd. “Sadly,” states Toni Moore, “the courts did not view the loss of an entire herd of wild horses as ‘irreparable harm.’ “
“Wiping out the West Douglas herd erases a whole distinct set of genetics, separate from nearby East Douglas horses,” states Linda Hanick, TCF Board member who testified in the Sept. 11 hearing on the case. “The roundup disregards the importance of the historic recorded documentation of these horses since Sept 1776. This roundup closes the door on an important piece of Colorado’s wild horse history.”
“We’re very disappointed of course,” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of TCF. “Wild horse families that have shared a history with this rugged Colorado landscape for hundreds of years will be swept away, while the real public land destroyers, the thousands of head of welfare livestock remain. It is terribly unfair, but we continue to fight for those wild herds that remain!”
“Rangeland impact of livestock in West Douglas is greater than 10 times the impact of wild horses,” states Barb Flores, plaintiff in the case who also testified in the Sept. 11 hearing. “Both use the area year round. While cattle are moved from pasture to pasture, wild horses migrate throughout the herd area on their own.”
“The BLM does not consider mortality rates in its population estimates,” Flores continues. “While we all expect the death of old, sick and injured wild horses, research shows that foal mortality is often 50%, and in many herd areas it is even higher. This means that less than half the foals make it to their first birthday. Shockingly, BLM's 20% population growth rate assumes all foals live and no wild horses, of any age, die.”
“To add insult to injury, the helicopter contractor chosen to round up the West Douglas herd, is noted for their cruelty,” adds Hanick who personally witnessed a roundup in 2010 conducted by Sun J Livestock in which 12% of the horses were killed. “We will hope for the best and attempt to record what happens this time around if granted adequate access.”
"Sadly, we did not prevail in stopping the BLM from proceeding to zero out the West Douglas Herd,” states Carol Walker, Director of Field Operations for WHFF. “We continue to fight the mismanagement and decimation of our wild horse herds. Our voices count, and are the only hope they have."
R.T. Fitch, President of Wild Horse Freedom Federation responded: "For years the American public has attempted to keep these herds free on their rightful range and with a stroke of a pen their freedom, families and lives have been shattered. Once again American taxpayers have been betrayed by big government, big agriculture and big business; it is shameful."
“I feel a deep sadness for any wild species on the brink of disaster,” concludes Kathrens. “These lovely wild horse families have no idea that the end of their wild lives is coming. They are simply the innocent victims of greed and power.”