"ORDER granting Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order 13 to the extent Plaintiff seeks a TRO enjoining the sale of the horses. Plaintiffs Motion for Temporary Restraining Order 13 is denied to the extent Plaintiff seeks an Order to Show Cause why a preliminary injunction should not be issued. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED a Preliminary Injunction Hearing is set for July 22, 2022 at 1:30 p.m., before the Honorable Judge Steven P. Logan, United States District Judge, in the Sandra Day OConnor United States Courthouse, located at 401 West Washington Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85003, 5th Floor, Courtroom 501. See attached PDF for complete details. Signed by Judge Steven P Logan on 7/12/22. (MJF) (Entered: 07/12/2022)"
In the past couple of weeks the Forest Service made an announcement that they were continuing plans to gather wild horses in Alpine Arizona. And they listed 3 dates the horses were to be auctioned off.
In months past when they made an announcement of an impending gather of this herd they gave the dates they were to begin the gather. This time they did not. In past months they met with opposition from several group and individuals who for many reasons told Forest Service this gather is wrong and illegal.
Some groups started taking photos and having members of the public name the horses while collecting donations to fight for the herd legally. Others got on an email chain with several organizations and people including the Forest Service and fought this case there.
And the gather appeared to have been stopped after that first, and then second round. But then came the third round. So what happened in this third round?
What we know is that FS annouced auction dates...giving the appearance of an imminent gather. Those dates are all removed now. When you call FS, which we did, you are told by Jeffrey Todd who is their public affairs guy, that you need to put your questions in writing. Theresa Barbour, president of OWHO, did have a phone convesation with him. At first Mr. Todd said he could not "comment on a law enforcement action". She said so that means you are still calling them livestock? He said "unauthorized livestock." So FS is still illegally labeling them as livestock.
Wild Horse Observers Association (WHOA) has written 2 open letters, one to FS and the other to AZ Governor Ducey. WHOA pointed out that this will destroy the governor's legacy of protecting the state of Arizona's wild horses and the "blood" would be on his hands.
The organization International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB) filed a lawsuit on this issue. In our research we found that the ISPMB filed an amended complaint on July 11, 2022 with a temprorary restraining order (TRO). The rumor on many social media platforms is that a TRO filed by ISPMB stopped the gather, or that ISPMB has already won ther case. The statement at the beginning of this article is part of the order of the judge on July 20.
The TRO is to stop the sale of 20 horses ISPMB alleges were already trapped and removed from the Forest. They did not provide proof of their claim however the TRO was issued to stop any sale, not to stop gathers.
The problem we see with the ISPMB lawsuit is that if it is won as written it will give the Forest Service jurisdiction over this herd. Then the Forest Service will go ahead with their plans to gather them up and remove them. They will have to go through creating a management plan, and it will take longer than this current plan to call them livestock and get rid of all of them. But it still is not what is best for the herd or what is legal.
The reason WHOA was able to stop them from their plans twice already is that they have proved that this herd does not meet the federal definition of livestock. The Forest Service only has jurisdiction over livestock or federally protected wild horses. These horses in Alpine do not fall into either category. These horses are wild, such they belong to the state of Arizona. These are AZ's wildlife. So currently their management falls to the state of Arizona. We don't want the Forest Service to have jurisdiction because we see how poorly they manage our wild horses, and clearly we saw their plan for the herd.
To read the ISPMB amended lawsuit yourself click the button below.