Equine Welfare Groups Join in Asking Obama to Stop the Roundups
HOUSTON, (WHFF) – Wild Horse Freedom Federation’s letter writing campaign to President Obama asking him to declare a moratorium on the accelerated Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) roundups of federally protected wild horses and burros on public land has been joined and now supported by Habitat for Horses (HfH) and the Cloud Foundation (TCF).
Last month volunteer president of WHFF, R.T. Fitch, challenged the American public to write letters to the President asking him to stop the roundups so that an accurate accounting of horses on the range could take place and alternative management techniques could be applied. In return Fitch and his wife Terry agreed that they would, personally, hand carry the letters to D.C. and ensure that they reached President Obama.
Virginia Congressman Jim Moran offered to facilitate the delivery of the letters to the White House upon their receipt in D.C. and with his office’s backing the momentum for the campaign has blossomed to include the support and letters from HfH, TCF and thousands of Americans.
“This started out as a campaign where an average American couple would bring the letters of other outraged tax payers to the President for review,” says Fitch, “but over the last month it has taken on a life of it’s own and shows exactly how upset and troubled the American public is over the destruction of the last, few remaining herds of wild horses and burros on their rightful lands.”
“Postcards, petitions and letters have been coming to the Cloud Foundation addressed to President Obama and pleading with him to stop the roundup of the last of the mustangs,” states Ginger Kathrens, Director of the Cloud Foundation, “We’re so grateful that Congressman Moran will bring the plight of our freedom-loving wild horses and burros to the President through these simple, heartfelt messages from adults and children around the country.”
“With slaughter seen as the ‘final solution’ for America’s wild horses,” added Jerry Finch, president of Habitat for Horses, “the need to place a stop on the roundups has become vital. We support everything R.T. has done and added the voice of our supporters to this trip. I will personally join in the delivery of the letters.”
The Fitch’s, along with Jerry Finch, will be keeping their promise to the public and to the supporting organizations by traveling to Washington D.C., at their own expense, Thursday, September 13th where they will deliver the letters to Rep. Moran who will then facilitate their delivery to the White House.
“We certainly appreciate the support of HfH, TCF, the office of Congressman Moran and all of the great people who took a stand and wrote letters to President Obama,” Fitch added. “We are proud to be affiliated with such a great group of true Americans who, like us, hope and pray that the President listens to our pleas.”
Fitch estimates that they will be delivering no less than 12,000 letters and petitions to Washington D.C.
Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) is a registered, Texas non-profit corporation with federal 501(c)3 status. WHFF puts people between America’s wild equids and extinction through targeted litigation against governmental agencies whose documented agendas include the eradication of wild horse and burros from public, federal and state lands. www.wildhorsefreedomfederation.org
Habitat for Horses (HfH) is a registered, Texas non-profit corporation with federal 501(c)3 status. HfH rescues equines from starvation, neglect and abuse. HfH provides equine rescue services to law enforcement, physical and mental rehabilitation, education services to horse owners and potential adopters, and provide opportunities to the public for fostering and adoption. www.habitatforhorses.org
The Cloud Foundation (TCF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wild horses and burros on our western public lands with a focus on Cloud’s herd in the Arrowhead Mountains of Montana. www.thecloudfoundation.org
By SCOTT SONNER, Associated Press
RENO, Nev. (AP) — A federal judge in Nevada is taking the U.S. government to task for misconduct by a helicopter contractor during one of the biggest mustang roundups in the West, granting a rare emergency order sought by wild horse protection advocates who argue all of the gathers on public lands are inhumane and illegal.
U.S. District Judge Howard McKibben denied a request late Tuesday to halt the roundup at the Triple B complex in northeast Nevada near the Utah line. But he did issue a temporary restraining order banning any mistreatment of mustangs like the Wild Horse Freedom Federation caught on camera earlier this month.
The vice president of the Texas-based group that filed the lawsuit against Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar, who oversees the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, said it was a small but important victory in a larger effort to bring attention to what she says is the BLM’s routine violation of federal laws protecting the horses.
“This is significant because the judge saw what we see every day,” the plaintiff told The Associated Press.
“This is a recognition in the federal court system that there is something wrong with not only what is going on out there but something wrong with the justification process.”
BLM officials denied the group’s claims that the helicopter pilot on the video actually struck a horse with a helicopter skid on Aug. 11.
McKibben said it appeared to him the horse was hit with the skid but even if it wasn’t, the helicopter flew “dangerously or unreasonably close” to the animals in violation of the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971.
The roundup of nearly 1,300 horses, which began July 20, is scheduled to end this week.
McKibben said his order didn’t preclude BLM from completing the roundup because Justice Department lawyers representing the agency indicated there would be no further use of helicopters at that roundup.,
“Should the Defendants contemplate the use of helicopters on the Triple B Complex in the future, they will need to address the concerns raised by this court or be subject to possible additional intervention by this court in the future,” he said.
McKibben is the same judge who ruled in July against another horse group, the Denver-based Cloud Foundation, that had sought an order to block the roundup before it began.
BLM officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. The agency says on its website that as of Aug. 29, 1,269 animals had been gathered and 12 killed during the roundup at the Triple B complex southeast of Elko, Nev., and northeast of Ely, Nev.
The lawsuit says the BLM’s helicopter contractor was Sun J Livestock of Vernal, Utah, the same one that was cleared of allegations of wrongdoing in February in connection with the videotape of a wild horse that fell during another roundup in eastern Nevada on Jan. 27.
BLM Director Bob Abbey said at the time that an internal review found that Sun J Livestock did not violate existing agency policy during the ongoing gather of mustangs about 60 miles south of Wells.
A woman who answered the telephone at Sun J Livestock on Wednesday declined to identify herself but told AP, “We don’t have any comment, thank you.”
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