Cattlemen Respond to “Ill-Conceived” Endangered Species Act Lawsuit

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WASHINGTON (April 6, 2018) – Earlier this week, an organization called Friends for Animals launched a misguided lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, asking for the agency to give a herd of non-native, feral horses in Montana protection under the Endangered Species Act. Friends for Animals is proceeding with the lawsuit despite the fact that rapidly exploding feral horse populations are starving on the range, damaging Western landscapes, and causing irreparable harm to native flora and fauna.  
 
“The organizations pushing ill-conceived actions on feral horses are willfully ignoring the facts,” said Dave Eliason, President of the Public Lands Council. “The science is crystal clear: There are no wild horses in North America, and haven't been for 10,000 years. If we continue to allow the least informed among us to lead the debate, the plight facing these feral horses will worsen and the health of our rangelands could be lost beyond repair.” 

Background
On April 3, 2018 Friends of Animals filed a complaint against Ryan Zinke and Greg Sheehan in their official capacities, challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for declaratory and injunctive relief by failing to list the Pryor Mountain wild horse population as threatened or endangered. 
According to the Associated Press:
o “Attorneys for Friends of Animals argued in the lawsuit that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated federal law by failing to act on a petition filed last June seeking protections for the animals. The petition was rejected on a technicality because the group submitted it to the federal agency without first notifying Montana officials as was required.”
 
o “The move comes two years after federal wildlife officials rejected a proposal from the group for protections for tens of thousands of mustangs on federal lands across 10 western states. In that case, officials determined there were no marked behavioral differences between wild horses and their domestic cousins.”
 
While Przewalksi horses have historically been thought to be decedents of wild horse herds, research comparing 46 published ancient and modern horse genomes indicated that Przewalski horses were in fact feral, descending from domesticated horses brought to the U.S. by Spaniards. 

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Photo: BLM


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