Judge Rules BLM Violated Grazing Laws in South-Central Idaho

Sources: Multiple/Story by

BLM Breaks the Law for Benefit of Bedfellow Welfare Ranchers

BLM destroying the last of Wyoming's Wild Horses for the benefit of Welfare Ranchers ~ photo taken last week by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

BLM destroying the last of Wyoming’s Wild Horses for the benefit of Welfare Ranchers ~ photo taken last week by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

BOISE IDAHO – A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management once again violated federal laws when it issued grazing permits instead of analyzing how grazing could harm sage grouse in four allotments in south-central Idaho.

In a ruling released Monday, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill found that the BLM failed to consider stopping grazing in any of the proposed management plans in the agency’s Burley Field Office.

The decision is round two of a lawsuit led by conservation group Western Watersheds Project that is challenging nearly 600 BLM grazing allotments spread across southern Idaho.

Winmill agreed that the BLM is allowed to automatically renew grazing permits without conducting lengthy environmental reviews.

However, it must still comply with federal laws requiring the agency to study rangeland degradation.

Latest Roundup in Wyoming Exposes Flaws, Failures in BLM’s Wild Horse Program

by Wayne Pacelle as published on Humane Nation

“As most of you are aware, our Wild Horse Freedom Federation‘s Director of Field Documentation, Carol Walker, has spent the last several weeks observing the destruction of Wyoming’s last wild horse herds at the hands of the BLM.  None of it was, or is, pretty…’disgusting’ is perhaps a better word.  Although no prominent HSUS observers were noted at the roundup the following article by Wayne Pacelle does have some very salient points and is well worth the read.  We concur with the bulk of what is stated…the time for the brutality to stop has long past.” ~ R.T.


BLM terrorizing what's left of Wyoming's wild horses. ~ photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

BLM terrorizing what’s left of Wyoming’s wild horses. ~ photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

At least 10 animals, including four yearlings, are dead after a poorly conducted and strategically suspect government roundup of approximately 800 wild horses in Wyoming. This loss of life, and the stress and trauma for the survivors, could have been avoided had the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) put in place a more humane and economically viable management plan for wild horses throughout the West.

The current roundup is being conducted in the Great Divide Basin, Adobe Town and Salt Wells Herd Management Areas in Wyoming. The BLM’s records show that one yearling was found dead in a holding pen having suffered an acute neck injury, a three-and-a-half month old filly was found dead in a holding pen of unknown causes, and a six-month-old colt died in a horse trailer from pre-existing lung injuries that were exacerbated by the helicopter drive gather.

The HSUS has long argued that the BLM, which conducts these round-ups, should be working with the humane community to manage wild horses using fertility control methods. The broader implementation of this strategy would come with some costs, but those would be offset and then some by reducing the need for removals and the housing and feeding of tens of thousands of horses in short-term and long-term holding facilities. Implementing aggressive fertility programs is a solution supported by most stakeholders and the National Academy of Sciences. It would be much more humane for the horses if the government opted for this strategy.

It is a well-known fact that the BLM’s wild horse roundup program is a case study in mismanagement. There are now more than 40,000 free-roaming wild horses in the United States, most of them in Wyoming and Nevada, and the government has been rounding up and removing them, ostensibly to control these wild populations and minimize their ecological impact. Over the years, they have built up a captive horse population that now numbers in the tens of thousands, at short-term and long-term holding facilities. The cost of the roundups and housing and feeding the animals is now cannibalizing about two-thirds of the budget for the entire program…(CONTINUED)

National group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, has doubts about BLM study on Wild Horses and Burros

By ZACHARY MATSON of TODAY’S NEWS-HERALD

“…more than 95 percent of the negative impact on the bird’s habitat would have been caused by grazing compared to the wild animals.”

wild burro captured by BLM ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

wild burro captured by BLM ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

A Washington D.C.-based nonprofit on Tuesday released an analysis of Bureau of Land Management data that calls into question the agency’s study of the relative habitat impacts of wild horse and burros, and cattle grazing.

The organization, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, argued that the methods the BLM used to study Western range conditions overstates the role that burros and wild horses have on habitat destruction, while understating the impacts of cattle grazing.

“The implication is that if the agency tells us the wild horses and burros have larger impact, they can argue roundups (of horses and burros) will have positive impacts on… habitat and livestock grazing can go unchanged,” the nonprofit’s advocacy director Kirsten Stade said.

Peter Lattin, who used to work as a contractor with BLM but moved to PEER after disagreements with the agency’s methods, said he and the organization have put together a database of BLM grazing allotments by pulling together hundreds records from a Freedom of Information Act request.

The analysis dealt primarily with habitat of the sage-grouse, a ground-dwelling chicken located largely in Nevada that is under consideration for endangered species status, but the organization has compiled data on BLM land management throughout the West. The BLM does not manage for sage-grouse habitat in Arizona.

In the BLM’s study of impacts on sage-grouse habitat, they measured all acres that had burros and wild horses but only the grazing allotments that had scored poorly on habitat health assessments, Lattin said. As a result the BLM reported nearly twice as much of the sage-grouse habitat is negatively impacted by burros and wild horses as by livestock grazing.

“They used the same term but treated them with entirely different methods,” he said.

Lattin said that if BLM had used the same methods, more than 95 percent of the negative impact on the bird’s habitat would have been caused by grazing compared to the wild animals.

Stade said that by downplaying impact that cattle grazing has on sage-grouse habitat the BLM makes it more difficult that the species could become listed and distorts policymaking as land managers set out to protect the species…(CONTINUED)

Video: Kitten and Donkey Smooch on Camera

Video by Johnny Bomblast

“I have to confess, I am caught between a crazy Cat Lady (Terry, my wife), who is about only one horse away from being called the Nutty Horse Woman and a Donkey/Burro Advocate (Marjorie Farabee) who both of which are always after me about saying ‘Wild Horses AND Burros’ instead of just Wild Horses.  Well, in an effort to satisfy both camps I render, this day, a video that pulls both the feline and equine souls together…please enjoy our ‘Feel Good Sunday’ installment and enjoy your day of peace, relaxation and renewal.  To all my friends; Keep the Faith!’ ~ R.T.

Pictorial: Day 12 Wild Horse Checkerboard Roundup ~ Lost Freedoms, Families and Futures

Eye Witness Observations by Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“Today was a very tough day for me for a number of reasons. But no matter how tough it was for me, I always keep in mind, it is a thousand times tougher for these horses who lose everything dear to them, their families, their homes and their freedom all at once.”

Waiting to head out to the next observation point for the Checkerboard Roundup. It is a little later in the morning. I will be posting updates if I have cell service out there.

We have been waiting for almost 2 hours at the Point of Rocks exit for the Cattoors to come and set up the next trap site. Now we moved to Bitter Creek Road and the helicopters are looking for a trap site for the last few horses in the Great Divide Basin Checkerboard area. I was told they are waiting for an archeologist to come and clear the site and it may be another 2 hours before the helicopters fly driving the horses into the trap. We are headed to a coal mine where apparently about 16 horses have been living for many years within the fenced area around it. Why on earth I wonder, do they have to remove these horses? How are they disturbing the operation of the mine? It is a huge area.

The BLM vehicle speeds up Bitter Creek road so fast that dust billows up in spots, because it is so dry here. Several times I slow, and fall way behind the vehicle in front so that I can see. The road is so dusty following the BLM to the trap. I am concerned I might lose them because I have no idea where we are going, but I am more concerned that I do not fly off the road into the steep ditch next to it because I cannot see it. At one point I could not see anything at all except the boiling dust, so I stopped because I was afraid of going off the road into the ditch, and suddenly there is a bang, and the Ranger’s truck behind me rear ends my car. We stop and get out to see the damage. We keep going to a junction in the road where we still have cell service and then wait for the county sheriff to come and file a report on the accident. This was not at all how I thought this day would go.

We headed finally to the trap in the mine area. We missed 4 horses coming in while meeting with the county sheriff but there are at least 12 more they are trying to get. It is wild and beautiful and quiet out here with gorgeous view of Black Rock and the surrounding mountains.

After we arrived to our observation point a half mile way but with a view of the trap for a change, I observed the longest chase I have ever seen, over an hour, of 8 wild horses by the helicopter in the coal mine area. These eight wild horses including a foal were running up and down steep hills and ridges in the hottest part of the day. They finally went into the trap with lots of close pressure from the helicopter at the very end. He had to circle back to get a line black horse trotting slowly who almost ran back out but finally went into the trap. By this time I was pulling for the horses to finally be caught and end this for the sake of their health. Never before in all my years as an advocate and in the 10 years I have been observing roundups have I been pulling for the horses to go INTO a trap, just to make it stop.

There seems to be a major problem with this trap, despite the fact that the archeologist Ok’d it, the Cattoors don’t seem to have selected it wisely to conform to the landscape and make it easy for the horses to enter as they usually do. The hills are so very steep, and the horses are heading up this one ridge which overlooks the trap, and naturally when they see the trap, they do not want to go in, they run off, and then the helicopter has to chase and chase and chase to get them to approach it and go in.

Helicopter just drove in a family of 6 the brave red stallion in front who kept looking back at his family and three foals and two mares came in after going up hills down in the mine up ridges down valleys and up on a really scary ridge where luckily they stopped then turned around. The red stallion finally led his family into the trap and I sighed with relief I did not want to see them run any more when the intention is to get them all.

We are told they are leaving the two horses who are still in the mine there, and we think they might be done for the day.

But suddenly the helicopter flies out in a direction I have not seen him head, behind us, and we see a family of four pop up over the ridge. The bay stallion is in the back, sorrel mare and foal in the middle, with a black mare leading, and they are running very fast. They fly across the terrain. They are finally driven on top of the ridge near the trap, and they run right by it. The helicopter chases them around the ridge and finally at the top of the ridge they wheel and turn, the helicopter wheels too and from our angle it looks as though it might hit them, but our perspective is distorted, and it is hard to see in the dust. It looks as though they were all going in the trap, but it is only the elegant black mare, who trips somehow and flips over. She gets up and continues into the pen at the end of the trap. On the other side of the hill the foal pops out, and I wonder if he has become separated from his family, but no his mother joins him. The stallion runs as fast as he can in the opposite direction, and I hear that they are letting him go. The helicopter pulls up and flies off, and the exhausted mare and foal slow to a walk, and we wonder, is it really over? Can they actually go free? Down below the Cattoors are packing up the trap, which seems to be answer enough. We watch the bay stallion top a ridge, and pause, looking down, as if he is wondering if it is safe. He trots down to his mare and foal, and they trot up to join him. It is such a very bittersweet moment. I am feeling joy for this small family, that at least the three of them are reunited and will live at least for now in their home in Great Divide Basin. But it is a harsh and cruel reminder of all the horses like the black mare in their family who will never roam free there again.

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Checkerboard Wild Horse Roundup Day 11: The Carnage Continues

Eye-Witness Report by Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“The rider throws a loop and catches the foal, who bucks when he feels the rope then as it grows taut he is thrown to the ground…”

We are about 20 miles in from I80 on County Road 19 and about 1/2 mile from the trap which is on public land for a change. We can see the trap from here the back of it anyway but not the approach to it, that is on the other side of the ridge from us. They caught 105 horses here yesterday so just expect to get stragglers today. This area is so remote there is no cell service.

It is a beautiful day, we can see the mountains clearly, and we spotted a small band of horses just across the ridge, peacefully grazing , with no idea what fate awaits them. One helicopter flew over starting the search for horses.

Soon I hear a helicopter in the distance, behind the ridge that hides the trap. He goes back and forth several times, leading me to believe that he is having trouble getting the group he is driving into the trap. Suddenly, a lone black stallion pops up over the hill. Apparently he escaped the group, and he runs over the hill ignoring the helicopter, in the direction of the small group we saw on the hill.

Then finally the helicopter pushes the group behind the hill into the trap – I see many horses running to the panels, and then being moved into the adjoining pen with lots of dust. I see some greys but mostly bay, black and chestnut, typical for horses from Great Divide Basin.

Meanwhile the other helicopter is following another group that cuts across the hill right in front of us. We see a beautiful grey stallion bringing up the rear, and one foal in the middle. They disappear over a ridge, going away from the trap. I am thinking we will most likely see them again, and we do a few minutes later and they have gained more horses behind them. They are in dramatic silhouette, lots of dust boiling up and two foals now. They head down the hill toward us but the helicopter stops them, heading them the long way around the ridge to the trap, out of sight.

About an hour later we see another group head up a ridge with a sorrel stallion in front and a white mare moving more slowly than the rest of the group. Then we suddenly see a sorrel foal all by itself, come over the hill pursued by the helicopter. At first he is running, but slows to a trot then a walk, and seems bewildered. He stops and I notice that a rider is heading down the hill toward him. When he sees the horse and rider he starts running toward them. Clearly he wants to be with another horse and not stay all alone! The rider throws a loop and catches the foal, who bucks when he feels the rope then as it grows taut he is thrown to the ground, he gets up and goes along with the horse and rider very quietly all the way to the trap.

We are told that the roundup is over for the day, and they are loading the captured horses onto 3 small trailers and one large one and as the trailers drive down the road I see their faces in the trailer – they have no idea what awaits them at the end of their journey.

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Israel Bans Horse and Donkey-Drawn Carts

by Joan Reddy as published in ecorazzi.com

“The decision taken today is an important landmark in the process of revolutionizing society and making the world more compassionate.”

Cart HorseIsrael has become the first country in the world to ban horse-drawn and donkey-drawn carts. These carts had “no place in a modern country like Israel,” said officials at the Israeli-based animal rights organization, Hakol Chai.

The campaign against the use of horse-drawn and donkey-drawn carts was launched over a decade ago by Hakol Chai, which translated means “Everything Lives.” Hakol Chai is the sister organization of the US-based organization Concern for Helping Animals. The newly approved regulation materialized from a Hakol Chai appeal to the Transportation Ministry and mayors throughout the country, as well as the Tel Aviv-Jaffa City Council.

“Carts with animals harnessed to them on Israeli roads constitute a significant danger to drivers and pedestrians, and they often cause traffic delays and unnecessary traffic jams,” Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz told the newspaper, Haaretz.

The ban prohibits alte zachen, – which means “old things” in Yiddish – peddlers, from using horses, or donkeys to pull carts full of repurposed second-hand items. Peddlers used to navigate through the city streets collecting residents’ garbage, including anything from appliances to clothing and furniture, presumably for resale, scrap metal or junking. While some environmentalists praised the reuse of old items, animal activists argued that the horses were paying the price…(CONTINUED)