Update May 24, 2010: U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman has dismissed this case, entering summary judgment in favor or the BLM. A copy of the opinion is attached below.
The judge found the issues related to the legality of the round up of the Calico Mt. Complex wild horses are moot because the roundup has already occurred.
The judge explained that while he denied plaintiffs In Defense of Animals, Craig Downer and Terri Farley, a preliminary injunction that would have stopped the roundup before it occurred, they should have appealed that denial. Because they failed to appeal the denial of the motion for preliminary injunction at the time, Judge Friedman said he could not now hear their claims.
(There is an exception to the mootness doctrine for claims that are capable of repetition but evading review, meaning acts or omissions which could never be challenged in court because it would be moot by the time the court could reach a decision. That exception would have applied in this case. But, said the judge, for that exception to apply and for the court to be able to review the plaintiffs' claims, they would have had to appeal the denial of the motion for preliminary injunction.)
The judge also dismissed their remaining claims for lack of standing. The judge explained that plaintiffs were challenging the legality of warehousing wild horses in long term holding facilities including as Interior Secy. Ken Salazar has proposed, on "preserves" in the midwest or East. The judge acknowledged that when he denied the motion for preliminary injunction, he did state there was a likelihood of success on that claim. Wild horse enthusiasts, wildlife ecologists, advocates and many other citizens as well as the plaintiffs in the case, hoped the judge's words meant he intended to end the warehousing of wild horses in long term facilities and pave the way for them to remain free roaming on the range.
But now, said Judge Friedman, he does not believe the plaintiffs have standing to pursue that claim. He explained that plaintiffs did not show the injury they would suffer from the roundup of the wild horses was related to placement in long term holding facilities. He said they only established a causal connection between their suffering and the round up and removal of wild horses from the Calico Mt. Complex.
The judge then said they also lacked standing to pursue the claim added by the plaintiffs after denial of the motion for preliminary injunction under the National Environmental Policy Act, ("NEPA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321, et seq. They alleged the BLM had failed to consider the significant environmental impact of holding wild horses in long term holding facilities.
A "procedural injury" such as a NEPA claim was not sufficient to establish standing, said the judge, unless the plaintiff showed a causal connection between the NEPA violation and their injury. The judge found the plaintiffs had not established such a connection.
For more on this case, read Animal Law Coalition's report and update below and for more on the brutal roundup and removal of the Calico wild horses....