Groundbreaking Tenth Circuit Decision Rules That BLM Cannot Treat Public Land As Private Land

For the second time this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has ruled in our favor on a precedent-setting issue concerning wild horse management on public lands.  In 2014, the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) treated more than a million acres of public land in the Wyoming Checkerboard as private land for purposes of wild horse management.  The “Checkerboard” is a large area in Wyoming that consists of alternating parcels of public and private lands.  Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that BLM violated the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act by removing hundreds of federally protected will horses from public lands under the agency’s limited private land removal authority, and in the process ignoring the legal requirements that BLM must satisfy before permanently removing wild horses from public lands.  Because all herd management areas either contain private lands within their boundaries or are adjacent to private lands, today’s ruling has enormous precedential implications for wild horse management throughout the American West.  The ruling can be found here.