Today, the Tenth Circuit issued a resounding victory for wild horse conservation organizations in a case raising important questions of first impression.  In 2014, the State of Wyoming brought a federal lawsuit asserting that the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) must permanently remove all federally protected wild horses from seven herd management areas located in Wyoming that were above the respective population minimums set long ago in outdated resource management plans.  Wyoming argued that once wild horse population herds exceeded these outdated population minimums, BLM lacked all discretion to determine whether action is needed to permanently remove the animals from the range.  In 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming dismissed the State’s case, finding that the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act vests BLM with broad discretion in determining, based on current data and information, whether action is necessary to remove wild horses from public lands even when they exceed the “Appropriate Management Level.”  Today, the Tenth Circuit affirmed that ruling, holding that the statute clearly affords wide latitude to BLM in determining whether, and when, action is needed to permanently remove animals from the range.  This decision – the first of its kind to be resolved by a federal court of appeals – should have important ripple effects in helping to defeat pending lawsuits filed by other States, municipalities, and livestock grazing associations seeking similar relief in Utah, Nevada, and elsewhere.  The Tenth Circuit’s ruling can be accessed here.