On Wednesday, March 25, the U.S. District Court District of Utah heard arguments on a Motion to Dismiss a Utah rancher lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) seeking to compel the removal of hundreds of wild horses from public and private lands in the state.
The Motion to Dismiss was filed by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom, Utah photographer John Steele and wild horse advocate and adopter Lisa Friday, who were granted the right to intervene in the case last October.
Earlier this month, the court granted AWHPCâs motion to dismiss a similar rancher lawsuit against the BLM in Nevada. The advocates are also intervenors in the state of Wyomingâs rancher-driven lawsuit against the BLM.
The Utah case was filed by the Western Rangelands Conservation Association on behalf of ranchers who graze livestock on public lands in southwestern Utah. It seeks removal of hundreds of wild horses from the Frisco, Four Mile, Bible Springs, Sulphur, Muddy Creek, and North Hills Herd Management Areas (HMAs) and the Blawn Wash Herd Are (HA).
In response, the government has informed the court that wild horses are not damaging rangelands in this area and that it has made no determination that âexcessâ wild horses exist in the HMAs and HA in question.
Ranchersâ claims that wild horses are overpopulating the state are not supported by facts. In reality, wild horses reside on just 2.1 million acres of BLM land in the state while livestock graze on 22 million acres. There are fewer than 4,000 wild horses on BLM land in Utah, compared to hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep.
About The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.
About The Cloud Foundation
The Cloud Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of wild horses and burros on our Western public lands with a focus on protecting Cloudâs herd in the Pryor Mountains of Montana. Cloud is the subject of Foundation founder Ginger Kathrensâ groundbreaking PBS/Nature documentaries.
About Return to Freedom
Return to Freedom is a national non-profit dedicated to wild horse preservation through sanctuary, education and conservation, and also operates the American Wild Horse Sanctuary in Lompoc, CA. It is also AWHPCâs founding organization.
John Steele is a noted wildlife and nature photographer who frequently photographs Utahâs wild horse herds.
Lisa Friday is a Virginia resident, wild horse adopter and board member for The Cloud Foundation.