Federal Court Refuses to Oppose Wild Horse Roundup…Because It Already Happened

Thursday, August 18, 2011
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to help animal rights advocates stop a wild-horse roundup by using the argument that the capture had already taken place.
At issue was the 2010 round-up of more than 2,000 wild horses and 200 wild burros along the California-Nevada border by the Department of the Interior, which claimed the removal of the animals was necessary for the health of the herds involved.
In Defense of Animals and DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary filed legal actions beginning in 2009 to stop the capture, arguing that it violated the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
A lower court denied the groups’ motion in August 2010, only days before the roundup took place. They then appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which denied an emergency move for injunctive relief. The latest ruling this month rejected a year-old motion for a restraining order and injunction to halt the round-up.
The appellate panel did state that the plaintiffs’ motion raised “serious legal questions concerning whether the large-scale removal of horses conflicts with the Wild Horses Act and whether an Environmental Impact Statement is required before any action can be implemented.” But the judges weren’t willing to do anything more, such as order the federal government to return the horses to the wild.
Writing in dissent, Judge Johnnie Rawlinson pointed out that, “The horses that were rounded up are currently being kept in various holding areas throughout the southwestern United States. As easily as the horses were transported out of their natural habitat, they can be returned.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Can't Stop Horse Round- Up That's Already Over (by Tim Hull, Courthouse News Service)
In Defense of Animals v. Department of the Interior (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) (pdf)


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