In 1979, in one of its first lawsuits, MSLF, on behalf of the Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGA), sued the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for its refusal to obey the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act by its refusal to remove wild horses from grazing lands used by RSGA members.
In March of 1981, the Wyoming federal district court entered an order requiring the BLM to remove excess wild horses to permit RSGA members to use their lands and engage in livestock grazing. In March of 1982, the court issued another order setting new limits for wild horses and ordering that the BLM comply by September of 1984. When the BLM failed to comply with the order, MSLF sought a show cause order; the BLM confessed error and then entered into a stipulation agreement: it would remove excess wild horses. Within a decade, however, the BLM was again out of compliance with federal law, the Wyoming district court’s orders, and the BLM’s stipulation agreement. In 2003, the State of Wyoming sued. The BLM confessed error and entered into a Consent Decree. In time, the BLM’s compliance with the decree suffered from poor management and inaccurate methodologies.
In 2009 and 2010, the BLM removed no wild horses and refused to comply with the court’s orders; rather, the BLM demanded that livestock grazing end. Then, on August 29, 2013, by its own terms, the 2003 Consent Decree with the State of Wyoming terminated.
In August of 2014, Wyoming demanded that the federal government comply with the law and noticed its intent to sue within sixty days. On December 8, 2014, Wyoming filed its lawsuit petitioning the federal district court to review the BLM’s final decision not to remove excess wild horses in accordance with the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Various wild horse advocacy groups moved to intervene, and were granted intervention.
On February 23, 2015, the BLM moved to dismiss Wyoming’s petition for failing to plead that the BLM failed to take a discrete agency action it was required to take, as well as improperly requesting broad programmatic relief. On February 27, 2015, the wild horse advocacy groups also moved to dismiss the petition. On March 27, 2015, Wyoming filed its brief in opposition. On April 2, 2015, MSLF moved for leave to file an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association in support of Wyoming. On April 3, 2015, the motion was granted, and on April 6, 2015, MSLF filed the amicus curiae brief.
On April 21, 2015, the federal district court issued an order granting the motions to dismiss and entered final judgment in favor of the BLM. On June 19, 2015, Wyoming filed a notice of appeal. On December 7, 2015, Wyoming filed its opening brief. On December 14, 2015, MSLF filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association in support of Wyoming urging reversal. On February 12, 2016, federal appellees and the wild horse advocacy groups filed their response briefs. On February 29, 2016, Wyoming filed its reply brief. On September 19, 2016, the Tenth Circuit heard oral argument. On October 11, 2016, the three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court.