“WHOA Special Edition” Spreads Misinformation

pinocchioMany Placitans received in the mail yesterday an 8-page newsletter, “WHOA Special Edition” from Wild Horse Observers Association. The banner headline on page 1 reads, “WHOA Wins vs NMLB in NM Supreme Court.” This is not true. Here are the facts.

WHOA’s Claim: “The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled 4 to 0 against the NMLB…”

The Facts: The WHOA v. NMLB case has not been heard by the NM Supreme Court. Petitions (called petitions for a writ of certiorari) were submitted to the Supreme Court last fall by the defendant (NM Livestock Board) and the 12 Placitas residents who are Defendants by Intervention asking that Court to review an earlier Court of Appeals ruling. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case. Turning a declined petition for a hearing into a 4-0 Supreme Court ruling in WHOA’s favor is a lovely fantasy for WHOA, but didn’t actually happen. As the Supreme Court docket is public information, anyone can verify that this case has never appeared on the Court’s docket.

The Facts: The WHOA v. NMLB suit is still in progress and the outcome pending. The Court of Appeals issued an opinion, overturned the District Court’s dismissal of the case, and sent the case back to District Court for further proceedings. The District Court must take into account the Court of Appeals ruling as it proceeds with the case. In fact, a hearing on the case was held in District Court just yesterday, a hearing attended by WHOA president Patience O’Dowd. So O’Dowd is fully aware the case is still wending its way through the lower court.

WHOA’s Claim: “Wild horses in NM are not livestock as contended by the New Mexico Livestock Board (NMLB). Hence they cannot be treated as trespass livestock on BLM lands.”

The Facts: There was no ruling by either the District Court or the Court of Appeals that the Placitas horses are “wild horses”. The Court of Appeals ruled that a Placitas horse that is proven to be “unowned and undomesticated” is not livestock and therefore is not subject to NMLB estray livestock procedures. It also ruled that NMLB is the appropriate agency to test the DNA of any horse that must have its DNA tested under NM state statute 77-18-5. That’s it. And the Court of Appeals ruling has absolutely no bearing on horses on BLM or other federal lands.

We won’t waste our time countering the rest of the misinformation presented by WHOA. When the case is settled, we’ll provide an accurate summary of the outcome on this blog.

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Full disclosure:  The editors of this blog are among the 12 Placitas residents who joined the “WHOA v. NMLB” lawsuit as Defendants by Intervention in support of NMLB, private property rights and public safety.