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A federal appeals court has dismissed an effort to allow the sterilization of a herd of wild horses in Idaho.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month granted a request by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to stop the effort.
Documents filed by BLM seeking the dismissal of its own appeal didn’t include a reason.
“This case threatened to set a dangerous precedent for the sterilization of wild horses throughout the West,” said Nick Lawton, an attorney representing American Wild Horse Campaign and other groups.
The BLM in 2015 released a plan to sterilize horses in the Saylor Creek Herd Management Area and replenish the herd with wild horses captured elsewhere to maintain a herd of 50 to 200 horses.
The American Wild Horse Campaign, The Cloud Foundation and Return to Freedom sued in 2016, fearing the case could set a precedent. A U.S. District Court in Idaho ruled in September that the herd had to be able to produce healthy foals, and the BLM appealed last month.
Federal officials didn’t immediately return calls from The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Lawton said federal agencies sometimes file appeals to extend the time they have to decide whether to mount a challenge. At any rate, he said, “it’s all over.”
The federal court in the September ruling said the BLM plan violated a requirement that the herd be able to produce healthy foals. The federal judge also ruled that the BLM didn’t consider “the significant impacts its decision may have on the free-roaming nature of the herd nor explain why its decision is appropriate despite those impacts.”
The BLM says the range can support 50 horses. The herd twice since 2006 has been rounded up and held in the agency’s Boise Wild Horse Corrals after wildfires destroyed rangeland forage.
The agency has said the most recent capture involved 195 horses following a…