In Defense of Animals v. Dep’t of the Interior (No. 12-17804, 2014)
The panel affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of federal defendants in an action alleging that the roundup, or gather, of wild horses and burros from the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area on the California-Nevada border violated the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Pursuant to its authority under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (the “Act”), the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) establishes Appropriate Management Levels for populations of native species – including wild horses and burros – and introduced animals, such as livestock. The BLM removes animals from the Herd Management Area when the population exceeds the established Appropriate Management Level. The panel held that the BLM acted within its authority under the Act when it implemented the 2010 Gather Plan on the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area.
The panel also held that the BLM’s decision not to prepare an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) was not arbitrary and capricious because the BLM provided a convincing statement of reasons why the gather’s environmental effects would not be significant. The panel also held that the BLM did not act arbitrarily and capriciously under NEPA when it responded to comments highlighting the possibility of scientific dissent regarding the administration of the immunocontraceptive PZP. Judge Rawlinson dissented because she did not agree that the roundup of the wild horses by the BLM complied with the Act.
- This summary constitutes no part of the opinion of the court. It has been prepared by court staff for the convenience of the reader.↵