Hello and Happy Monday to everyone!
As promised, we have an advocacy update for you!
Our legal team sent a FOIA request to the National Park Service (NPS). We received an answer, that really did not address the documents we requested. We were told that this was all of the communication we would get regarding this FOIA request and how to file an appeal.
As we previously shared, they did give us a copy of a Categorical Exclusion form that they filled out on 9/8/2020 stating that they would be giving every female horse aged 8 months old and up GonaCona as a method of birth control. We believe that they knew what the public reaction would be, so they chose this method to get approval to administer GonaCon. They informed the public of this decision on their portal on 9/9/2020. Since we know that Colorado State University (CSU) has been or may have already perfected their single dose permanent sterilization of GonaCon, along with CSU & Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s history of not being fully transparent with the public, knowing that this is the method of birth control they have chosen to treat our female horses with is bothersome. We will admit this could be beneficial for older mares. Our fear is that some of the youngest members of this herd may now be permanently sterilized.
Then we made a blog post where we talked about the birth control and our FOIA request. We also shared this information:
“Our FOIA request also asked for records with any data relating to the administration of GonaCon on the horses. Since the National Park Service considers our FOIA request fulfilled, and we did not receive any records of which fillies and mares have been given GonaCon, we have to assume that the management of Theodore Roosevelt National Park is not practicing proper record keeping when it comes to who has been treated with GonaCon since 2020. For clarity: IF the records existed, they would have to release them to us under the FOIA guidelines. If they have them, but are withholding them for some reason, that would have to be explained. Since neither were done, we are left to believe they simply are not keeping track of who they have given GonaCon to and when. You would think that makes it difficult to know when the booster should be given and to which horse.”
A few days later, our lawyer reached out to us. He was a little confused because he received new correspondence from the NPS regarding our FOIA request, after they previously stated that the information we requested was “granted in full”.
This correspondence included the clarification for the following from our original FOIA request:
“(2) Any and all records, including surveys, regarding how NPS determines that an excess number of horses exists on the TRNP such that roundups and removals of those horses are necessary; under this category, Chasing Horses is seeking records matching the above description from 2015 to the present.”
Their updated response was:
“In regards to section 2 of your request, there are no NPS records responsive to the removal of horses from the park.”
First of all, we were honored to learn that the regional office that oversees TRNP is apparently taking the time to read our blogs.
Second, we can’t say that we are surprised to have the park admit there is no logical system for the choices they make to remove the wild horses in TRNP, but there is still an air of shock in their nonchalant admission that they are not doing things according to their NPS or NEPA policies.
Third, of course our lawyers are appealing our FOIA request.
We have more to share on another vein of our advocacy work, so please check back soon!
Please, consider helping support Chasing Horses Wild Horses Advocates (CHWHA) as we continue to fight for the humane treatment of the wild horses in TRNP. We really cannot do any of this without your help and support. We fully believe in our legal team and appreciate their hard work and dedication. That work understandably comes at a cost. Our next round of legal fees is expected to be in the area of $7,000. There are a number of ways you can make a donation to CHWHA listed on our website.
Thank you for your support and check back soon for more updates!