The Casper Star Tribune reports:
A federal court battle over the fate of wild horses in Wyoming’s high desert could have implications for the management of public lands across the American West.
Wild horse advocates claim the Bureau of Land Management has ceded control over public lands near Rock Springs to local landowners. The federal agency claims it is only trying to fulfill its legal obligations to keep the horses off private grazing areas.
The debate centers on about 2 million acres of “checkerboard” land just east of Rock Springs. Created in 1862 as part of negotiations with the Union Pacific Railroad, odd-numbered blocks of public land were sold while the even-numbered blocks were retained by the federal government.
The Rock Springs Grazing Association owns the private blocks and uses the entire checkerboard area to graze sheep. With wild horses on grazing association land exceeding the numbers set by federal policies, the group sued the BLM in 2011, demanding that the bureau remove all horses from private land. The two parties settled in 2013, and the BLM recently announced plans to remove all horses from the private and public lands within the checkerboard area. The first roundup occurred in 2014.
A group of wild horse advocates is now appealing that decision and argued before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver this week.
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Source: Casper Star Tribune
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