On August 18, Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These agencies are legally mandated under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act to protect and preserve wild horses and burros. FRER”s lawsuit outlines violations of the Wild Horse Act with regard to the Spring Mountain Wild Horse & Burro Complex Herd Management Area (“Spring Mountain HMA”), which is located in Nevada’s Spring Mountain National Recreation Area (Spring Mountain Herd).
FRER’s lawsuit alleges that in violation of those core responsibilities, in the BLM’s May 10, 2022 Decision Record and the USFS’s August 2, 2022 Decision Notice, the interdisciplinary Proposed Action includes dangerous surgical sterilization of both male and female wild horses and burros.
The USFS/BLM’s plans to conduct experimental sterilizations on the Spring Mountain Herd are unjustified, unsupported, unnecessary, and will cause unacceptable harassment, harm, and potentially death of the very animals that the agencies are statutorily obligated to protect.
The lawsuit also states that the “USFS/BLM’s decisions to employ such population growth suppression methods as surgical sterilization are arbitrary and capricious* and in violation of federal law. Alternative, nonsurgical, less invasive, and less risky fertility control tools are available, and already have proven successful in managing wild horse populations throughout the United States.”
Plaintiff Front Range Equine Rescue seeks a declaration from the Court that the decisions to use certain population growth suppression methods that include surgical sterilizations are arbitrary and capricious* and should be set aside for violating the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) and the Wild Horse Act.
* arbitrary and capricious conduct is willful and unreasonable action without consideration or regard for the facts and circumstances.” Arbitrary and capricious is a standard for judicial review and appeal, often seen in administrative law.
FRER further seeks an injunction to prevent the USFS and BLM from moving forward with any wild horse and burro sterilization program.
Finally, FRER seeks a declaration that the USFS’s and BLM’s failures to adequately consider the environmental impacts of surgical sterilization violate the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”).