The battle to see our horses continues, as horses continue to die behind closed doors
Wild Horse Education is continuing the legal battle for transparency against the Department of Interior (DOI) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Because the public is continually denied consistent access to roundups and holding facilities that house the American public’s wild horses, taken from public land with public funds, this action is gaining increasing importance.
On February 14, 2011 Plaintiff Laura Leigh filed for permission to appeal her First Amendment Rights case against the BLM to the Ninth Circuit Court. Her plea was based on the fact that there had been no ruling by the Federal Court in Reno to her request for Emergency Injunctive Relief in a case she had filed five months previous. Her request cited that “no action” in a case requiring emergency relief was an essential denial of her motion.
Judge Larry Hicks of the Federal District Court in Reno has now denied Leigh’s motion as “moot.” However in his ruling he does allow written testimony to stand in the record that had been objected to by the BLM.
“Basically this is good news,” said Leigh “What the Judge has now given me is an opportunity to present this case without first going through the process of gaining the Court’s permission. He has also ruled that the entire record of the case remains intact and that is vital to demonstrate the repetitive behavior that has precedent in higher Courts as not moot.”
Leigh has spent the last year observing more roundups than any government personnel and bringing the public daily reports. The suit she brought earlier last year, to the same Court over closure of public land and a roundup during the heat of summer for the Owyhee Herd Management Area, bore fruit for public observers. That suit found that closure of public land was a prior restraint to First Amendment Rights, creating the beginning of a daily observation platform for the public.
“The current suit is NOT about observing a single roundup,” Leigh stated “The emergency relief requested extends to the repetitive battle for observation. We have a right to know how our money is spent in the hands-on management of our horses throughout the process. From roundup through holding and their ultimate disposition, wherever that may be, it is our right to see it.”
This winter horses from the Eagle Complex joined those named in Leigh’s suit from the Silver King Herd Management Area behind the locked doors of the BLM Indian Lakes (Broken Arrow) facility in Fallon Nevada. Horses continue to die and suffer disease out of sight of public scrutiny. Horses in that facility continue to die at an alarming rate as indicated in the weekly reports.
Last spring the BLM closed the doors of the facility, which had previously offered weekly public tours, because of the intensity of public outrage. In an email from Dean Bolstad, of the Nevada state office in Reno to his superiors, dated May 25 of last year he writes: “The impact of stopping the tours pales in comparison to the impact to our employees and BLM’s image.”
Is this a reason to deny the public basic rights guaranteed in the Constitution? Or is this a reason to “clean up your act?”
The full Appeal is expected to be filed by Leigh and her attorney Gordon Cowan of Reno soon.
The legal efforts are supported solely by Wild Horse Education, a registered non-profit in the state of Nevada.
Personal Note: This suit has been a tremendous effort. You can ask anyone that has travelled with me how many hours I spend researching and crafting documents. Researching and collecting evidence and data in the field daily. The “concept of law” in this country is a complex process and the learning curve is steep.
Yet historically the evidence points to the fact that documentation and exposure changed practices that occured in the past. Documentation is creating a broader base of exposure throughout the world for what America is doing to it’s own symbol of Freedom.
We need to push this program into the light. The closed door facilities need to open. Meaningful observation MUST be allowed at roundups and facilities.
But I need your help. Support this action that benefits YOUR right to know.