Join us as we stand up for the future of wild horses in Wyoming and across the West!
Return to Freedom (RTF), along with Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER) and individual plaintiffs, photographers Meg Frederick and Angelique Rea, filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on May 17 to stop the illegal roundups of wild horses from the Checkerboard area of Wyoming and the stripping of 2 million acres of public land from wild horse use.
RTF has been involved with advocacy and litigation in the Checkerboard area for more than 10 years, as it fights for the protection of the horses living there.
Now, things are escalating and we need your help!
An influential local ranchers’ group, the Rock Springs Grazing Association (grazing association), has been trying to rid the Checkerboard area of all wild horses for years, and also sued the BLM this year, to try to convince the Wyoming court to force the government to empty the Checkerboard of wild horses.
RTF and FRER have now entered the lawsuit filed by grazing association, so we have a seat at the table and in the courtroom to prevent RSGA from getting what it wants.
We are now litigating two different lawsuits in Wyoming to protect those horses. This of course increases the resources we need to divert to this fight. We will not give up and intend to put all our best efforts into protecting the Checkerboard, but it will definitely require everything we’ve got in terms of our legal efforts.
We need your support if we are going to continue this fight.
On on May 17, 2023, Return to Freedom announced that it had filed suit in federal court to stop the BLM from stripping about 2 million acres from wild horses in southwest Wyoming for the benefit of private livestock ranchers.
RTF is joined in the lawsuit by plaintiffs FRER, a Colorado nonprofit organization, as well as wild horse photographers and advocates Frederick and Rea.
Under the BLM’s changes, finalized on May 8, 2023, the agency will:
- remove 1.95 million acres from wild horse use by converting the Salt Wells and Great Divide Herd Management Areas to inactive Herd Areas not managed for horses;
- slash its population target for the 478,000-acre Adobe Town Herd Management Area from a range of 610-800 wild horses to just 225-450 horses; and
- potentially engage in illegal and unnecessary surgical sterilization of wild horses.
The BLM says that it amended its Resource Management Plan based on an agreement it entered into in 2013 with the grazing association.
The ranching group sued for the removal of all of the wild horses from the 2-million-acre Checkerboard region, an unfenced area of alternating, one-mile-square blocks of public and private land set up in the 1860s as part of negotiations with the Union Pacific railroad.
BLM’s reason for removing land from wild horse use: complying with its legal obligations to America’s wild horses is too much trouble for it.
The announced changes demonstrate explicit bias and violation of federal law. And during a $1.1 million, three-month-long helicopter roundup from late 2021 to early 2022. the BLM set the stage for the changes by capturing and removing 3,502 wild horses from their home ranges in Southwest Wyoming. Thirty-seven wild horses died during the roundup.