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Federal courts weigh in on horses, grizzlies and sage-grouse


Cara J
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Federal court decisions in three recent cases illustrate the complexity of the intersection between scientific wildlife management, public opinion and the judicial system. The Pryor Mountain wild horses (Equus caballus), Yellowstone area grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) and sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) along the California-Nevada state line have all been mired in court decisions and politics for years, with new developments in the last month for all three circumstances. A federal district judged halted a planned gather of wild horses from the Wyoming-Montana border Sept. 5. Though ecologically feral animals, they are managed according to the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, designating them as “wild.” In response to a lawsuit filed by The Cloud Foundation, the judge ordered the Bureau of Land Management not to go forward with the planned gather and removal of horses from the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. BLM had been planning to remove 17 of the approximately 150 horses from that area and offer them up for adoption. BLM officials have determined the herd is too large for the arid and sparsely vegetated 59-square mile area, while The Cloud Foundation posits that removing the 17 animals would adversely affect the genetics of the herd. [...]

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