Lawsuit Against BLM's latest strategy to remove 50% of wild horses & burros by 2005.

For Immediate Release-September 20, 2001 
Contact: Andrea Lococo, (502) 637-6187
Howard Crystal, (202) 588-5206



Animal Protection Groups File Suit over Bureau of Land Management's Plan to Manage Wild Horses and Burros to Extinction

Washington (September 20, 2001) -- Today, The Fund for Animals, Animal Legal Defense Fund, and several individuals filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for failing to prepare an environmental study (EIS) of its strategy to remove one half of all wild horses and burros from public lands by 2005. Under the guise of restoring threatened watersheds, BLM plans to drastically reduce the wild horse and burro populations to a mere 27,000 and 2,700 respectively (Nationwide).

A 1990 General Accounting Office report (GAO-August 1990...Rangeland Management, Improvements Needed in Federal Wild Horse Program) concluded, 

          "wild horses are vastly outnumbered on federal rangelands by domestic livestock. Even substantial 
           reductions in wild horse populations will, therefore, not substantially reduce forage consumption." In
           addition, despite the (1971) Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act's mandate to manage horses and
           burros as "self-sustaining populations of healthy animals," 

BLM has established population targets for many herd areas that are significantly below the minimum needed to maintain the long-term genetic viability of the animals.

According to Andrea Lococo, Rocky Mountain Coordinator of The Fund for Animals, 
             "Wild horses and burros are convenient scapegoats for habitat degradation. BLM's attempt to
             dramatically reduce wild horse and burro numbers clearly demonstrates that ranching politics are, as
             usual, driving the decision-making process. BLM and the ranching industry will not be satisfied until
            these magnificent animals are managed into extinction."


Added Howard Crystal, attorney for the plaintiffs,
           "BLM's strategy for massive removals of wild horses and burros from public lands is a paradigmatic
           example of what Congress had in mind when it enacted the National Environmental Policy Act
          (NEPA). It is the impacts of precisely this kind of action which must be considered in an Environmental
           Impact Statement (EIS), so the agency makes an informed decision which considers all the impacts of,
           and alternatives to, its action."

During Fiscal Year 2001, BLM received an increase of $9.6 million to begin the removals and intends to request similar funding for the next several years.

The wild horse and burro program has been fraught with abuses since its inception. Last week, The Fund for Animals filed suit against BLM for its failure to release specific records pertaining to wild horses being sold for slaughter over the past two years.

A copy of today's complaint is available by calling (301) 585-2591 ext. 216.

Andrea Lococo  (Continues below)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Andrea Lococo, (307) 859-8840
Howard Crystal, (202) 588-5206

Fund for Animals Goes to Court to Obtain Wild Horse Slaughter Records

WASHINGTON (September 10, 2001) -- The Fund for Animals filed a lawsuit today in U.S. District Court over the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) failure to respond to two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking specific records pertaining to wild horses being sold for slaughter over the past two years. Despite BLM's claims that such information is regularly compiled and reviewed, BLM has withheld a number of materials for more than one year.

Specifically, the FOIA requests seek copies of Private Maintenance and Care Agreements (adoption contracts), copies of applications for and certificates of title, copies of records indicating when and to whom adopters sold their horses, copies of records indicating when the horses arrived at slaughterhouses, and copies of any slaughterhouse logs that summarize information concerning titling, sale or slaughter of these animals.

According to Andrea Lococo, Rocky Mountain Coordinator for The Fund, "BLM would have us believe all is well in its wild horse adoption program, but our efforts to learn what's really happening have been thwarted time and time again. The public's wild horses are still being
sold to slaughter, and the public has a right to know about it." The Fund and BLM reached a settlement agreement in 1997 requiring, among other things, that wild horse adopters sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury (a Class D felony) that they have no intention of selling the
horse to slaughter. Recently, it was discovered that many adopters had not been required to sign the affidavit and that hundreds of wild horses are still ending up at slaughterhouses. Not only have BLM officials failed to enforce the affidavit, but even more shocking is the fact people whose horses have been sold to slaughter continue to adopt more horses.

Added Howard Crystal, attorney for The Fund, "The BLM seems determined to prevent the public from acquiring timely information about wild horses being sold to slaughter, even after a federal judge recently questioned the agency's commitment to implementing the 1997 settlement
agreement with The Fund. While the judge invited The Fund to petition the court to enforce the settlement based on new evidence, BLM's ongoing violations of the FOIA have made collecting that information next to impossible."

A copy of The Fund's five-page complaint is available by contacting
Andrea Lococo at (307) 859-8840 or alococo@wyoming.com.

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Andrea Lococo
Rocky Mountain Coordinator
The Fund for Animals
P.O. Box 11294
Jackson, WY  83002
Telephone:(307)859-8840
Fax:(307)859-8846
www.fund.org