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American Horse Protection Ass'n v. Andrus

Citation: 9 ELR 20075
No. No. R-78-105BRT, 460 F. Supp. 880/(D. Nev., 09/15/1978) injunction denied

In an action for declaratory and injunctive relief under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, ELR STAT. & REG. 41834, the court denies a motion to enjoin the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from conducting roundups of wild horses on public lands in six grazing districts in Nevada. The court rejects the claim that BLM was required to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the roundup programs in each grazing district for several reasons: the large size of each grazing district compared to the relatively small area of each wild horse range, the conclusion of a sister court that each grazing district was not an appropriate unit for preparation of EISs on BLM's livestock grazing program (see NRDC v. Morton, 5 ELR 20327 (D.D.C. 1974); NRDC v. Andrus, 8 ELR 20577 (D.D.C. 1978)), and a previous opinion of this court holding that a roundup similar to those proposed in this case would not have a significant effect on the environment. The environmental assessments prepared by BLM adequately support its determination that full EISs are not required in conjunction with the proposed actions. The court also notes that the Interior Department regulations requiring fencing of private lands have been held invalid and that the Act imposes a mandatory duty on the Department of the Interior to remove wild free-roaming horses from private lands on demand. Finally, the court concludes that the deplorable conditions at the Palomino Valley Holding Corrals, which in the past resulted in cruel and inhumane treatment of wild horses, are not likely to recur, but it orders that any necessary destruction of horses be done in conformity with the regulations and by injection rather than shooting.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Robert C. McCandless, Russell J. Gaspar
McCandless & Barrett
1707 H St. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 223-8440

Murdaugh Stuart Madden, Roger A. Kindler
2100 L St. NW, Washington DC 20037
(202) 833-3360

Counsel for Defendants
B. Mahlon Brown, U.S. Attorney
300 Booth St., Reno NV 89502
(702) 784-5439

Walter J. Postula
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2727