Conservation Groups Once Again Go To Court To Protect Wild Horses In The Wyoming “Checkerboard”

The “Checkerboard” is a large area in Wyoming that consists of both public and private lands.  Under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, Congress imposed far more stringent requirements for the removal of wild horses from public lands than private lands.  Nonetheless, the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) has recently adopted an interpretation of the Act under which BLM can remove horses from public lands in the Checkerboard using only the agency’s authority for private land removals.  Although the legality of that interpretation is presently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in a case we brought on behalf of wild horse advocates, without even awaiting a ruling from the Tenth Circuit BLM has announced another permanent removal of approximately 500 horses based on the same interpretation that we contend is fatally flawed.  Accordingly, we filed suit today in federal court in Wyoming requesting that the court temporarily enjoin BLM’s actions until the Tenth Circuit can resolve the pending appeal, which will determine the limits of BLM’s authority in a situation such as this one.  Because BLM intends to proceed with permanently removing wild horses from these lands in less than two weeks, we are seeking emergency injunctive relief.  The case is American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign v. Jewell, No. 16-cv-246, and the Petition for Review filed today can be found here.