Victory! Appeal To Sterilize Wild Horses In Idaho Is Dismissed


A controversial effort to allow the sterilization of a herd of wild horses in Idaho, which threatened to set a dangerous precedent throughout the West has been dismissed by a federal appeals court.

The move follows the approval by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month of an obscure request by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to stop its own appeal.

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC), one of the groups that had planned to fight the move in the appeals court, had BLM not withdrawn its appeal, called the outcome “another significant legal victory in the fight to protect mustangs and burros” as it affirmed that the “BLM has a legal mandate to manage wild, viable herds.”

As per a post on the organization’s Facebook page: “An Idaho court ruled that: a.) BLM has a legal mandate to protect wild horses’ free-roaming behaviors and manage them in self-sustaining herds; b.) Sterilizing wild horses impacts the herd’s social structure, wild horse behavior and the public’s interest in observing natural wild horse instincts and behaviors; c.) The BLM must consider these impacts; and d.) Cannot ignore the results of the National Academy of Sciences report, which affirmed the impacts of castrating wild stallions and surgically removing the ovaries of wild mares.”

As noted on its websiteThe American Wild Horse Campaign, The Cloud Foundation and Return to Freedom, previously sued the BLM in 2016 following the department’s release in 2015 of plans to sterilize horses in the Saylor Creek Herd Management Area and replenish the herd with wild horses captured elsewhere to maintain a herd of 50 to 200 horses.

A U.S. District Court in Idaho ruled in September that the herd had to be able to produce healthy foals, and the BLM appealed it last month.

The goal of the American Wild Horse Campaign is to protect America’s wild horses and burros by stopping the federal government’s systematic elimination of these national icons from public lands in the United States.

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