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Terri Farley
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Twin Peaks Mustangs in Court: IDA, Rachel Fazio Have Their Backs

Today in Sacramento, California, wild horse advocates crowded one side of Courtroom 7, United States District Court, presided over by Judge England.
 The lopsided crowd was the opposite of that at the attorneys’ tables. For the wild horses, Rachel  Fazio, attorney for In Defense of Animals, sat alone. Her four opponents, included representative of the Department of the Interior and the Safari Club.
The verdict will be announced in the next 10 - 14 days.
This case examines whether BLM acted in accordance with the 1978 laws determining how wild horses must be gathered, before and during the Twin Peaks round-up last year, near Susanville, CA.  Many of those in the courtroom were present for several days of the round-up.
This is the first time I’m seen Ms. Fazio in action, and she was articulate, level-headed and unshakable.
My legal credentials, even as an observer, are limited, but I took notes & will share some highlights. 

Wild horse deaths were approximately 1%  during the round-up. BLM said this was  expected 

The judge asked about a division of opinions among experts. Ms. Fazio said that BLM “utterly failed to address” the information that was submitted; BLM said they didn’t recognize the information as relevant. 

  The studies submitted dealt with the negative effects of PZP and gender skewing as means of limited wild horse populations.

  Ms. Fazio put the BLM’s responsibilities in perspective, by briefly reviewing the 1978 regulations which were intended to reestablish rangeland health after decades of over-grazing by many species, including livestock.

  Judge England asked if IDA would accept “euthanasia or re-programming” for wild horses and Ms. Fazio responded that would be acceptable only after BLM acted on all of its responsibilities and made the information available to the public ; at present, she said, it’s clear that BLM is violating the law and its intent, and (based on BLM documents) plans to continue doing so 

BLM’s responsibility to identify and euthanize sick, lame and old animals on the range before they are stampeded to the traps was highlighted. BLM countered that this was unreasonable and they would continue to do that in captivity. 

Safari Club contends wild horses hinder their right to “hunt and enjoy” wildlife and said “our colleagues, the government” were right to disregard and minimize the studies submitted by IDA

 Ms. Fazio thanked Judge England for following up on this case. “After forty years of avoiding scrutiny” she said, BLM must face questions and wild horses have their day in court.

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Posted by Terri Farley @ 7:34 PM

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Comments: One thing that struck me was the Safari Club complaining about advocates filing lawsuit after lawsuit.

Actually not only inappropriate but Erik Ptersen the DOJ lawyer for BLM was in Judge McKibenn's court when the Judge told Mr. Cowan at Laura Leigh's last hearing that WE had to file each individual case for him to judge on. That he would nor rule on "the People" vs. BLM a once and for all kind of suit.

And I know Erik saw me and he knows I heard that statement made.

Bully for the BLM!
  Nicejob Terri thank you so much for being there when so many of us couldn't and thanks for the update as well. I appreciate you and so do the horses.
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