BLM rounds up 300 wild horses from 3 HMAs after Soda Fire (35 wild horses died)

The BLM claims it will return 200 out of the 300 wild horses rounded up from 3 HMAs.  (Note that Sands Basin “maintains” only 70 wild horses, and Black Mountain “maintains” only 80 wild horses.  These are NOT viable herd numbers to begin with.)  BLM claims that 100 out of the 300 removed will either go to adoption or holding facilities.   35 wild horses died in the fire and “aftermath.”  My guess is (this is the same old story in the case of fires) – the rain will begin in a month or so, and new grass will be seen all over the burned areas, and after the first few blades of grass pop up, the livestock will be grazing away in perpetuity.  Meanwhile, many wild horses were permanently removed from their HMAs.  – Debbie


BLM gathers 300 wild horses after fire destroys habitat


Just over two weeks ago, the Soda Fire sparked and quickly grew to more than 283,000 acres. The massive wildfire devastated habitat for a number of wildlife species throughout Owyhee County, and it tore through three Wild Horse Herd Management Areas. (Photo:

by Emily Valla, KTVB

OWYHEE COUNTY, Idaho — Just over two weeks ago, the Soda Fire sparked and quickly grew to more than 283,000 acres. The massive wildfire devastated habitat for a number of wildlife species throughout Owyhee County, and it tore through three Wild Horse Herd Management Areas.

These HMA’s, as the Bureau of Land Management calls them, are thousands of acres each. Sands Basin is the smallest of the three and maintains about 70 horses. Hardtrigger HMA has 150 horses and 80 horses call the Black Mountain HMA home. Sands Basin and Hardtrigger are both considered 100 percent burned in the Soda Fire. Just small islands of unburned land remain and that’s where the horses have grouped.

Those islands, though, won’t support the herds through the winter. Too much forage has burned. So, the BLM decided to move all of the horses away from Sands Basin and Hardtrigger, and about a third of the horses at Black Mountain. The emergency horse gather began Thursday in the Sands Basin HMA.

Just after sunrise, a helicopter buzzed over an unburned island of land about one square mile in size. Dozens of wild horses started to trot, as the helicopter herded them towards what BLM officials call a “trap.”

“The wings of the trap are sort of set up like a funnel, so when they come in to the wings of the trap they go into the corral. We then sort them and they are transported to the Boise Wild Horse Corrals,” said Heather Tiel-Nelson, public affairs specialist for the BLM.

A veterinarian will check out each horse. The fire and aftermath killed 35 horses, and officials hope they won’t lose more.

“These horses have been through a lot. The Soda Fire that came through here really stressed the horses, the lack of forage, the fire suppression activity also can play a role in stressing out the horses,” said Jason Lutterman, public affairs specialist for the Wild Horse and Burro Program.

Read the rest of this story HERE.


An Uncertain Future for Ft. Polk’s Horses

By Elsa Gillis as published and seen on

“It hurt my heart because I couldn’t imagine these majestic herds of animals being rounded up…”

FtPolkFT. POLK, La. – Fort Polk, Louisiana is a sprawling, 240,000 acre army post where wild horses have been running free for decades.  But that could soon come to a halt.

The army wants them gone. It says the horse population has grown too big and is creating a safety hazard. But the army is meeting resistance from people who say the horses have played too big a role in our nation’s history to be gotten rid of.

After being alerted to this story, we went to the community where the horses roam – to speak with concerned citizens.

“It hurt my heart because I couldn’t imagine these majestic herds of animals being rounded up, shipped out of there,” says board member of the Louisiana Horse Rescue Association Mary Brocato.  “And I knew that many of these horses were going to die.”

Brocato first saw the horse population in may, during a tour with a Fort Polk Commander and local historian.

“We were told that they were descendants of cavalry horses that had been injured or were lame during training exercises during World War II in 1941, and instead of treating the horses, they turned them loose.”

A local historian who has studied Ft. Polk’s cavalry history writes… “Beginning in 1941, the US Army held the largest maneuvers ever held in the history of the army here in Louisiana. Camp Polk was built to support this large maneuver and training area.  An important part of this maneuver…was 2 divisions of mounted horse cavalry.”

The says they were eventually turned loose – and over the years have run wild along with horses that are descendants of what are called heritage families. Those are people whose lands were seized by the army years ago, and had to leave behind their animals.

“They’re a treasure, they’re not a pest to get rid of. These horses are part of the heritage, the culture and the history of that area. And they need to stay where they are, they’re not hurting anyone,” says Brocato.

But the army sees it differently.  We spoke with Col. Brian Sullivan, Fort Polk’s Chief of Staff.

“They currently present a training distraction to our rotational units going through the training center and a safety hazard,” says Col. Sullivan.  “The training distraction is real  in terms of the efforts we have to make in order to move the herd to either conduct an air land, or air assault, or airborne assault, into these large open areas where the herds congregate.”

He says there have not been any documented accidents or safety issues related to the horses at this point.

Col. Sullivan says there are an estimated 700 wild horses on or near Fort Polk, a that number’s expected to double in 10 years.

KTBS 3 went out to see if we could find some of the horses, and we did.  Right near Ft. Polk property, a small group ran by.  All involved parties agree that something needs to be done about the horse population, but the disagreement comes over the solution, and origin of the problem.

First disagreement – whether they are wild horses, protected by federal law from branding, harassment or death.  The army considers them “trespass” horses, and not protected.

A federal appeals court has sided with the army.

Second disagreement:  where these horses come from.

“There’s no lineage to WWII or connotation associated with heritage horses. Most of these horses are horses that have simply been abandoned on our training area,” says Col. Sullivan.

“There’s a lot of talk about there being dumped horses, and they probably, in all fairness take up a small percentage of the herds..but from photographing them and interviewing other people, a majority of these are wild horses that have been there for years and years,” says Teresa, a Leesville resident and animal lover who’s gotten involved in this situation.

We asked Col. Sullivan how the army knows the horses are not descendants of cavalry horses or heritage family horses.

“Again what’s most important is that they’ve been determined trespass horses by the court and any protection provided by the act does not apply.”

We also asked what happened to the cavalry and heritage family horses.

“We don’t know, but again, it’s trespass horses we’ve had the courts help us categorize these particular animals,” says Col. Sullivan.

While the army has decided to get rid of the horses, a public comment period on how to do it ends the first week of September.  And that’s where the real concern comes in.

“These are wild horses. These are not horses that can be domesticated, they can’t be trained, they can’t be broken, they’re not for pets, they’re not for riding,” says Brocato.

Mary and Teresa are concerned some of the horses could end up at slaughterhouses, something we asked Col. Sullivan about.

He says they currently give out permits for people to capture horses on the post—but there is a four horse per year limit, and they must sign an agreement that prohibits slaughtering the animals.  But there’s no mechanism to track what happens after they’re sold.

He says capture permits and attempts to sterilize the horses have not controlled the horse population.

Still, Teresa says there are too many unanswered questions to come up with a solution just yet.

“It’s hard to pin down the number of horses, where they came from….you can’t solve a problem if the waters all muddy.”

One thing both sides agree on is the safety of soldiers. How to get there is where they differ.  Advocates for the horses would like to see the abandoned ones adopted out, and find a way to keep the wild horses away from training grounds.  After the public comment period ends, Fort Polk officials will present options to the Commanding General.  He will announce his decision in January and it will be followed by another public input period.

Feel Good Sunday: Tiny Horse Bringing Bales of Joy

Source: Sterling Barlow on You Tube

“We lost our ‘Feel Good Sunday’ last week due to a pressing news story that needed to be shared.  But not so this week.  Albeit diminutive, this moment will hopefully bring a ray of sunshine into you day.  One tiny, 3 day old miniature horse is your ticket to a few giggles and grins this day.  Enjoy.” ~ R.T.

BLM to Decimate Americas most Accessible Wild Horse Herd

By Arlene Gawne – President, America’s Wild Horse Advocates (AWHA) – the Spring Mountain Alliance

“…stable wild horse family groups self-limit birth rates, but roundups destroy the family groups.”

Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation photographing members of the Cold Creek Herd, Sept. 2012 ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation photographing members of the Cold Creek Herd, Sept. 2012 ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has announced a gather of up to 200 wild horses in the Cold Creek area of southern Nevada – about 30 miles west of Las Vegas. They say horses are suffering from extreme drought conditions and lack of forage. Local wild horse observers agree that some wild horses – perhaps up to 70 (but not 200 that the BLM intends to remove) have stopped migrating up to summer forage higher in the mountains until mares, particularly old ones, with foals are either in poor condition or starving.

However wild horse advocates once again disagree vehemently with the BLM as to the cause. They say the lack of forage may never have happened if the BLM and USFS had not delayed for 2 years in permitting trained volunteers to apply reversible birth control to the wild horses in the Spring Mountain range. And – to be fair – if some of the public had not fed Cold Creek wild horses to get close-up photos.

In June 2013, the US Forestry service (USFS) and BLM proposed a management plan based on  roundup and removal of  so-called excess wild horses. America’s Wild Horse Advocates then proposed an alternative management plan near Cold Creek where nearly all mares would be darted painlessly with a  proven contraceptive, PZP, that has significantly reduced birth rates, for example, in buffalo on Catalina Island, in 4 different wild horse areas across the US, in deer populations and even elephants in African parks. The animals were kept in numbers that their habitat could support. More importantly, stable wild horse family groups self-limit birth rates, but roundups destroy the family groups.

This is what local Las Vegas residents have argued for since 2011, even going to Washington to present their plan. At no cost to the taxpayer, local wild horse advocates could have provided the certified darters, the contraceptive and a careful documentation of the results of the PZP plan. Within 5-7 years, the birth rate would have just replaced animals lost to natural causes like mountain lions, lightning strikes and old age (see

Las Vegas wild horse advocates proposed to disperse water sources across the range so horses would not concentrate near Cold Creek. Dispersed water sources would also benefit deer and elk, the other large mammals near Las Vegas that the Nevada Dept. of Wildlife (NDOW) has tried to reduce in number by increased hunting licenses. But the BLM and US Forestry Service has extended the environmental assessment until January 2016 and, you watch, they may extend it to May 2016. Three years to analyze simple alternative plans?

So why don’t the trained advocates just dart the wild horse mares and build alternative water sources on their own? Because they would violate federal laws that carry heavy fines and even federal sentences.

Why don’t the federal agencies allow reversible PZP on wild horses in our public land in the Spring Mountains? Why indeed?

Susan Wagner, Pres. of Equine Advocates, & Susan Kayne, creator of TV show “Real Horse Rescues,” on mainstream media’s poor coverage of equine welfare issues, on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 8/26/15)


Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesday (*SM) , August 26, 2015

6:00 pm PST … 7:00 pm MST … 8:00 pm CST … 9:00 pm EST

Blogtalk servers went down, and they are having technical difficulties getting them back up, so we were unable to do the show tonight – BUT WE WILL RE-SCHEDULE THIS SHOW!

Listen to the live show (HERE!)

or listen to the show live on your phone by calling (917) 388-4520.

You can call in with questions during the 2nd half hour of the show by dialing (917) 388-4520, then pressing 1.

This is a 1 hour show.  It will be archived so you can listen to it anytime.


Our guests tonight are Susan Wagner, President & Founder of Equine Advocates, and Susan Kayne, creator of TV show Real Horse Rescues on ABC-WTEN, who will talk about the mainstream media’s poor (if any) coverage of horse meat in the U.S. food supply, over 90,000 PMU mares trapped in torturous conditions while having their pregnant mare urine collected in China, and other equine welfare issues.

Susan Kayne began creating equine media productions in 2003, and her signature series, Unbridled, aired for 10-seasons and earned multiple awards.  Her present day ventures include Real Horse Rescues on ABC-WTEN in upstate New York.

Kayne has hosted shows for the Capital OTB Network, served as a feature reporter for Outdoor Life Network, and has given expert equine commentary for news outlets, professional panels, and educational institutions.  Her advocacy on behalf of thoroughbreds earned her a photo on Page One of the New York Times on 9/22/2012.

pregnant_mares_pee_line_premarinMares strapped in tight stalls to collect pregnant mare urine (conditions for horses are worse in China)

Susan Kayne and Susan Wagner are in the video below in an episode of “Real Horse Rescues.”  In Part 2, Susan Wagner talks about wild horses, including the two that are now living on the Equine Advocates sanctuary.

You can watch Part 1 HERE.

Tonight’s show is hosted by Debbie Coffey, V.P. and Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

To contact us:, or call 320-281-0585

Continue reading

Wild Horses Truer to Nature than ‘Slave Horses’

OpEd by Craig Downer as published in the Reno Gazette-Journal

“Wild horses deserve to be called wild…”

Stallion of Antelope Valley HMA ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Stallion of Antelope Valley HMA ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

As a serious student of horses and their place in our world, I take strong exception to the biased editorial: “Petition confirms horses aren’t wild” republished from the Elko Daily Free Press on July 19th. This fails to recognize the horse’s greater story/truth as proven by fair-minded scientists.

The horse species originated in North America at least two-million-years ago, and the entire horse family is deeply rooted here, dating back 58-plus million years. Abundant fossil and genetic evidence attest to this. They are a major integrator in North America. And considerable evidence indicates that horses never totally died out, although they diminished, along with many other species at the close of the last Ice Age. Their restoration is a truly welcome one in terms of species diversity and ecological soundness and stability. They can also greatly help stave off the life-threatening effects of global warming.

Wild horses deserve to be called wild. The horse is truer to its inherent nature when living freely in the natural world, as contrasted to a slave horse who must live only where its owner allows, often in bleak, artificial, spirit-killing confines for insufferably long periods! Horses are not mere machines; they are living beings who have arisen out of myriad past generations predominately in the wild! They possess an amazing wisdom, aka instincts, that gives them adaptive abilities that harmoniously fit into a variety of ecosystems, which they enhance. They quickly revert to the wild. To label them as being merely “feral” domesticated escapees ignores the vast majority of their evolution and their true character!

As semi-nomadic, post-gastric digesters, they are much needed to complement the lopsided preponderance of ruminant grazers such as cattle, sheep, and deer that people have foisted or promoted in unnatural numbers upon the land. Wild horses are needed to heal the grievous ecological wounds humans have wrought and to restore balance. They more greatly enrich the soils with humus and disperse the intact seeds of a greater variety of plants. They are restorers and healers of ecosystems to which they are suited and much more deeply rooted natives than either the bovids or the cervids in North America, though these too belong.

BLM attacking wild horses in Nevada ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

BLM attacking wild horses in Nevada ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Wild horses should qualify as endangered “distinct population units” for protection under the Endangered Species Act. They quickly revert to the wild and adapt harmoniously and in complementary manner to each unique ecosystem, yet they are being either eliminated from their legal lands or brought to sub-viable, mere token population levels by their unjust enemies, including betrayers in the very branches of our government charged with protecting them – the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service!

Possessed by worldly powers and possessions and with a war mentality, their enemies have become blind to the true value, purpose, and justification for naturally living horses! We must quickly rectify this miserable situation and learn to share the land and freedom with such magnificent and highly evolved beings, as the progressive Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act still intends.

Wild Horse Freedom Federation Joins Fight to Save Historic Wild Horse Herd from Extinction, Again

Wild-Horse-Freedom-FederationPO Box 390, Pinehurst Texas 77362

For Immediate Release: August 24, 2015

Wild Horse Freedom Federation Partners with The Cloud Foundation to Block BLM’s Plan to Zero Out Colorado’s Unique West Douglas Herd

Pinehurst, TX – Since 2010 wild equine advocacy groups Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) and The Cloud Foundation (TCF) have consistently worked together in a unified effort to thwart the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) attempts to totally remove Colorado’s West Douglas herd from their rightful range for the exclusive benefit of “Welfare” ranchers and special interest groups.

Although this legal battle has been ongoing for almost 20 years the BLM has, as of late, accelerated their efforts to destroy this federally protected, historic herd so that private cattle owners and extraction interests can declare the public land to be their own.

Citing that the wild horses are damaging the range due to over grazing the BLM has failed to acknowledge that the number of horses pale compared to the sizable herd of private, “welfare” cattle that are allowed to graze on the public land for the bulk of the year at mere pennies a day.

“Using the BLM’s own statistics, the wild horses are out numbered by a minimum of 4 to 1 by the welfare cattle allowed to graze on the horse’s range.” states R.T. Fitch, President and cofounder of WHFF, “The concept of the Federal Government destroying this herd to line the pockets of a few of their bedfellows ought to spark outrage in each and every American’s heart and soul. Enough is enough and we are making a stand.”

Renowned equine photographer and Director of Field Documentation for WHFF, Carol Walker agrees; “The BLM must not be allowed to zero out this herd simply because it is ‘inconvenient’ to manage, or because it is pandering to cattle ranchers and extraction companies. This would set a very damaging precedent for our few remaining wild horses and burros.”

The BLM intends to commence with their removal operation next month.

Links of interest:

History of WHFF’s legal Battle with BLM for West Douglas Horses

BLM Press Release

West Douglas Herd Area Final EA

Wild Horse Freedom Federation


R.T. Fitch
Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) is a registered, Texas non-profit corporation with 501c(3) status in all 50 states. WHFF puts people between America’s wild equids and extinction through targeted litigation against governmental agencies whose documented agendas include the eradication of wild horse and burros from public, federal and state lands. WHFF is funded exclusively through the generosity of the American public.

Horse Meat Found in U.S. Food Chain

News from the Equine Welfare Alliance and Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“Sorry, no ‘Feel Good Sunday’ today as this breaking news is tooHorsemeat on a bun hot to hold until tomorrow.  We have tested for it, we have suspected it and yes; now it is here in it’s tainted glory, Horse Meat in your American food.  The horse haters said it would never happen and we have always held the position that they were full of crap and now their noses can be smeared in it because it is here.  The predatory business of horse slaughter is a sick, twisted, perverted abomination that needs to go away forever.  Please take the time to read and/or download the report, below.  May God have mercy on their souls!” ~ R.T.

Additional links of interest:

BLM to round up wild burros from Bullfrog HMA

When bait trapping is done, there is almost NO PUBLIC, INDEPENDENT ACCOUNTABILITY.   –  Debbie



The BLM says gather is needed to remove excess burros to help decrease or eliminate public safety concerns for the citizens of Beatty and travelers along the Highway 95 corridor, among other reasons.  (Photo: iStock)

BLM to Gather Wild Burros from Bullfrog HMA

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is scheduled to begin gathering and removing approximately 40 wild burros from the Bullfrog herd management area (HMA), located near Beatty, Nevada, on Sept. 1. The gather will be conducted through a bait-trap and is expected to continue for about three weeks.

The BLM estimates there are approximately 243 wild burros within the HMA, and the post-gather population would be estimated at approximately 203 wild burros. The appropriate management level for the Bullfrog HMA is 58 to 91 wild burros.

The BLM says gather is needed to remove excess burros to help prevent deterioration of the range, achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance, achieve and maintain healthy and viable wild burro populations, protect habitat for threatened desert tortoise and sensitive Amargosa toad, and decrease or eliminate public safety concerns for the citizens of Beatty and travelers along the Highway 95 corridor.

The Battle Mountain District’s Tonopah Field Office issued the decision record for the environmental assessment for the Bullfrog HMA gather plan in 2012. The environmental assessment and associated decision specifically allotted for follow-up bait and water trap gathers of the Bullfrog HMA to attain appropriate management level. The environmental assessment, decision record, associated documents, maps, and other information about the Bullfrog HMA is posted on the BLM Battle Mountain website at

The BLM contractor will gather the wild burros utilizing a bait-trapping method and transport the animals to the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Off-Range Corral in Axtell, Utah. The BLM will provide updates and information on a bi-weekly basis throughout the course of the gather at

For more information, please call David Price, wild horse and burro specialist at the Tonopah Field Office, at 775/482-7800.

Nix Horse Exhibit

By Erin McIntyre as published in The Daily Sentinal

“It’s a sad day for us, but we just felt that we’d rather have good integrity and have our clients trust us,”

Concerns about the spread of a debilitating livestock virus led organizers to cancel a western Colorado horse show at the Mesa County Fairgrounds scheduled for this weekend.

horse mouth with vesicular stomatits

horse mouth with vesicular stomatits

The Colorado West Paint Horse Club’s board of directors voted Wednesday morning to cancel the inaugural Colorado Canyons Color Classic, which originally reached capacity for the fairgrounds with 230 horses signed up for exhibition on Saturday and Sunday, according to Kimmer Jepson, the board’s secretary. By the time the board voted to cancel the show, all but 70 participants withdrew because of fears surrounding vesicular stomatitis.

Agriculture officials have located the disease in 11 Colorado counties, and have put animals in 91 different locations under quarantine. Horses and cattle primarily contract the viral disease, but it can also affect pigs, sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas. The symptoms include painful, blister-like lesions, and the disease is spread through saliva, fluid from ruptured blisters and insects.

According to the Colorado Department of Agriculture, humans can contract the disease in rare cases by handling infected animals.

Jepson said the decision was not based on a veterinary recommendation or the quarantine of animals in western Colorado. The most recent information from the Colorado Department of Agriculture indicates quarantine of three animals in Mesa County, 15 animals in Delta County and 19 animals in Montrose County.

Participants were traveling from as far away as Arizona, Wyoming, Utah and California, Jepson said.

“It’s a sad day for us, but we just felt that we’d rather have good integrity and have our clients trust us,” Jepson said, adding that the board didn’t want to alarm anyone with the cancellation but felt it was better to be safe than sorry.

It was a tough decision for board members because of all the work they had put in for the first of what they expect will be an annual American Paint Horse Association regional show.

“We’ve been working like dogs on this for six months,” she said. “But if we go ahead and tell people to come, especially from out of state, and they take it back home with them, we just don’t want to be responsible for that.”

“It’s a bummer,” said Jo Carole Haxel, Mesa County Fairgrounds manager.

The facility, which not only hosts horse shows and livestock events but also offers boarding for horses passing through the area, takes precautions against communicable disease, said Haxel.

“We work really hard to keep manure out of the spaces that would collect flies, and it’s the flies and gnats that spread disease,” Haxel said. “I completely understand, but we work really hard at the fairgrounds to keep our facility clean and we disinfect every stall, every time it’s used.”