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:

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.”

De Blasio admits he doesn’t have enough backing in City Council or the public to ban NYC’s carriage horses

“The mayor stated unequivocally that he would end horse-drawn carriage rides in Manhattan…”

Mayor de Blasio had vowed to ban the horse carriages in Central Park on “day one” of his mayoralty. - SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Mayor de Blasio had vowed to ban the horse carriages in Central Park on “day one” of his mayoralty. – SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

As a City Hall candidate, he vowed to ban horse carriages on “day one”— but Mayor de Blasio is finally admitting he bit off more than he can chew.

Furious supporters of the ban aren’t ready to be muzzled, though.

De Blasio said Wednesday he still wants to get rid of the “inhumane” industry — but for the first time he acknowledged he doesn’t have the votes in the City Council.

And the mayor said that the carriages — the focus of a long-running Daily News campaign — are popular.

“The fact is, the industry has a lot of support in the City Council, and among the populace,” de Blasio said on the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC.

His message to the anti-carriage activists who helped elect him: his hands are tied.

“What I’d say to every advocate is, ‘You already have my vote, go get the votes in the City Council and solidify the support in the City Council so we can make this change,’” he said.

That was not what they wanted to hear.

Animal rights activist Donny Moss, who helped start the Anybody But Quinn group that toppled de Blasio’s Democratic primary rival Christine Quinn, ripped the mayor.

“The mayor stated unequivocally that he would end horse-drawn carriage rides in Manhattan. He also said that he would lobby Council members in support of his bill. He has done neither,” said Moss. “Is he really looking to alienate his base — the very people who worked tirelessly to get him elected?”

NYCLASS which donated heavily to de Blasio — challenged the mayor’s math on the Council tally.

“We are prepared for the bill to be voted on immediately as we believe we would be successful,” said a spokesman.

That might be wishful thinking. Council sources said the bill has little support, with one member saying only a handful of members would probably vote for a ban now.

Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Queens) said the mayor is wisely shifting his focus.

“I wouldn’t say the mayor’s given up on banning horse carriages, but like all of us he has to continue focusing on what’s important: jobs, housing, education, public safety,” he said.

“Prioritizing banning horse carriages doesn’t make the cut.”

The ban on horse carriages was the number one topic that listeners tweeted to Lehrer to ask the mayor about, the radio host said….

NM Court: Placitas Horse Herd could be Wild

By as published in the Albuquerque Journal

“We reject the argument that all horses anywhere in New Mexico are livestock”

The New Mexico Court of Appeals has ruled that a herd of horses living in the Placitas area cannot be considered livestock if it is made up of wild horses. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

The New Mexico Court of Appeals has ruled that a herd of horses living in the Placitas area cannot be considered livestock if it is made up of wild horses. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

An appellate court has revived a lawsuit that sought to have a Placitas horse herd declared wild under state law, a ruling described by an advocacy group as a “huge victory” that would allow the animals to continue to roam freely and stop their roundups and sale.

“We reject the argument that all horses anywhere in New Mexico are livestock” simply because some horses are considered livestock, the court said.

The opinion by the New Mexico Court of Appeals interprets the Livestock Code and provisions involving “estrays” – the legal term for unclaimed domestic animals – as “pertain(ing) only to domesticated horses rather than wild, free-roaming horses.” It says the body of animal-related laws in the code requires the New Mexico Livestock Board to DNA test and relocate wild horses. And it sends the case back to the lower court for proceedings consistent with the decision.

The Wild Horse Observers Association, which brought the suit in February 2014, has advocated for the horses to continue roaming freely, while some Placitas residents have argued the horses have damaged the land and are a safety hazard.

The opinion last week by Appeals Court Judge Jonathan Sutin, joined by Judges Michael Bustamante and Cynthia Fry, reversed a trial court in Albuquerque.

Second Judicial District Judge Valerie Huling of Albuquerque had dismissed the lawsuit in July 2014 at the request of the state Livestock Board and a group of individual interveners who live in Placitas.

Wild Horse Observers, in its initial complaint, said the horses have never been owned or claimed by any private landowner, rancher, horse rescue group or Indian tribe. The unbranded horses – 40 at the time of filing – have roamed on public land near Placitas since at least 1965, according to the association.

About 25 of the horses were impounded and auctioned by the Livestock Board, which contended the horses were not wild and that carving out a wild horse exception to livestock laws would mean they weren’t subject to transportation, inspection and anti-cruelty laws.

The Court of Appeals said the board is required by statute to search for the owners of stray livestock for the benefit of the legal owner. State law requires that a wild horse captured on public land to have its DNA tested, and if it tests positive as a Spanish colonial, to be relocated to a state or private wild horse reserve. If it isn’t a Spanish colonial, it must be returned to public land or put up for adoption by the agency on whose land it was captured – in this case, the 560-acre Placitas Open Space managed by the City of Albuquerque’s Open Space Division.

Livestock Board executive Director William Bunch said, “Essentially, this appeal is trying to force regulation based on an incomplete genetic foundation. So it’s going to be hard to enforce. Certainly we will try to comply.”

Wild Horse Observers Association hailed the ruling said on its website as “a huge victory.”

“This appellate court decision has far-reaching ramifications for the historic and beloved wild horses of Placitas on further roundups, auctions and sale, use of PZP contraception for herd management, DNA testing and more,” the statement said.

Town Hall Meeting Addresses Plight of Salt River Wild Horses

By Erika Flores of KPHO.com

“many folks are still concerned about the Salt River horses…”

Click Image to View News Video

Click Image to View News Video

MESA, AZ (KPHO/KTVK) – The U.S. Forest Service originally wanted to round up and remove the wild horses roaming in the Tonto National Forest. But that plan has been put on hold for now.

However, the horses’ fate is still very much up in the air.

More than 100 people gathered for a town hall meeting in Mesa Sunday to voice their concerns and offer solutions.

Residents said the horses are crucial to this state because they are part of Arizona’s identity.

The goal was to discuss what’s next, after controversial plans to round up the wild horses were put on pause.

The U.S. Forest Service originally wanted to remove the horses from national forest land due to safety concerns.

Lawmakers got involved, a lawsuit was filed, and then the Forest Service backed down.

But many folks are still concerned about the Salt River horses.

“I don’t want the next generation to wake up one morning, and say, ‘Oh my gosh. They’re removing our horses in six days.’ We have to protect them now. Declare them wild and create a sanctuary for them,” said Laurie Walker, who was at the meeting.

“People aren’t trained to interact with wildlife. We need to train people,” said Sheryl Styles, who wants a permanent solution for the horses. “It’s learning and teaching people how to interact with wildlife not removing our wildlife from our beautiful areas.”

The lawsuit is moving forward and the group behind it hopes it will help prevent the feds from ever removing the horses.


Feel Good Sunday: Donkey Helps Find Flying iPhone

After Ben Wilson’s iPhone fell out of the plane he was piloting at 9,300 feet in the air, he assumed he’d never see the device again. But he tracked the device to a pasture 90 miles away, and found it in perfect working condition … with the help of a donkey.

Wilson, the owner of natural-gas equipment company Gas Corporation of America, didn’t intend to test the durability of his iPhone or protective case. He was flying his Beechcraft Bonanza single-engine plane from Houston to his home in Wichita Falls, Texas, this week when his door suddenly opened about three inches mid-flight.

“That’ll wake you up,” Wilson, 74, said dryly in an interview with NBC News conducted via the fallen iPhone on Friday. “My Wall Street Journal got sucked out of the plane, and I just kept flying because we were close to home.”

Once he’d landed safely in Wichita Falls, Wilson realized his iPhone was missing too. It must have been wrapped in the Journal, he reasoned, and he assumed the device was simply gone. The Wichita Falls Times Record first reported Wilson’s story.

But Wilson’s stepson, John Kidwell — who is also the vice president of sales at Gas Corp. — pulled up the “Find My iPhone” app on his own phone and was amazed to see Wilson’s device pop up on a map. The iPhone was sitting somewhere in tiny Joplin, Texas.

Determined to retrieve Wilson’s iPhone — along with 250 contact numbers and 1,000 photos he didn’t want to lose — Wilson and Kidwell got in the car the next morning and drove the 90 miles from Wichita Falls to Joplin. Kidwell traced the signal to a fenced-in pasture, and the hunt began.

“I climbed the fence and this donkey trotted up to me and looked me right in the eyes,” Wilson said. “He would not leave our sides. I think he was trying to help us find the phone.”

The iPhone was sitting in plain sight in the pasture, nestled in thick grass below a mesquite tree that Wilson believes helped cushion the device’s long fall.

“I said, ‘You pick that phone up before that donkey steps on it!'” Kidwell said. “Can you imagine if it survived a 9,300-foot drop just to get stepped on by some donkey?”

Incredibly, the phone was in perfect working order with only a few scratches on the corners. The screen was intact, the phone still made calls and all other features worked as usual. Wilson had encased the iPhone in a protective case with an external battery pack, which was the only piece that snapped off in the fall and couldn’t be found.

Wilson is “amazed” his iPhone is working fine after the 9,300-foot plunge, which he and Kidwell verified by checking his altitude over Joplin via the flight-tracking site FlightAware. He’s happy to have his phone and his irreplaceable photos back in hand, but he’s most happy to have met that strange, friendly donkey.

“I didn’t get to talk to the ranch owner, but I want to send him a newspaper clip and tell him I’d want to adopt the donkey. He was a hoot,” Wilson said. “We made a new friend and I got my phone back. Everything turned out real well.”

Federal Judge Rejects Emergency Request to Block Salt River Wild Horse Roundup

“It would be a historic and colossal mistake if the Forest Service would go through with these cruel, cruel plans,”

A federal judge declined to issue an emergency order restraining the Tonto National Forest Service from ousting a famous herd of wild horses from its home along the Salt River in Mesa.

While U.S. Forest Service officials originally announced plans to begin rounding up the horses Friday, in response to aggressive public pushback, the agency agreed not to make a move until September.

With the immediate threat lifted, the judge instructed the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, a nonprofit that monitors the herd, to deliver the lawsuit to the Forest Service and give them a chance to respond. A hearing is scheduled for August 12.

“There’s no need to panic at this point,” said William Miller, a Scottsdale attorney who is representing the horse advocates. “The game hasn’t even begun.”

The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group is suing the Forest Service for violating the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which declares wild horses vital to the “natural system” of public lands and mandates they be protected from “capture, branding, harassment, or death.”

The group also alleges the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 because they did not conduct an environment assessment or impact study prior to ordering the horses removal.

“It would be a historic and colossal mistake if the Forest Service would go through with these cruel, cruel plans,” said Simone Netherlands, president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group…

…More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition opposing a roundup, inspiring a number of Arizona and U.S. lawmakers to intervene on the herd’s behalf.

In a letter sent to Tonto National Forest Supervisor Neil Bosworth Wednesday, U.S. Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain called on the agency to engage the public before taking action.

“Whether they are treated as feral under state law, or ‘wild’ under federal law, horses are a celebrated icon of the west,” they wrote.

Governor Doug Ducey chimed in, too.

“The federal government should leave our wild horses alone,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “But if they don’t, Arizona will do everything we can to protect them, provide them sanctuary, and ensure they are treated humanely.”

Forest Service decides to reevaluate plan to remove Wild Horses from Salt River

By Tami Hoey as published on KPHO TV

Tonto National Forest officials made the announcement Thursday they have decided to “take another look” at the plan.

PHOENIX (KPHO/KTVK) – The U.S. Forest Service is reevaluating its plan to round up and remove dozens of wild horses from the Salt River.

Neil Bosworth, Forest Supervisor at the Tonto National Forest, released this statement Thursday:

“We appreciate the local community’s feedback and we’ve decided to take another look at the proposed gathering of stray horses at Tonto National Forest. The Forest Service will continue to engage with the local community, state and federal officials to explore potential alternatives for meeting our obligations for both land stewardship and public safety.”

The Tonto National Forest had placed a Friday deadline on letting people claim any stray horses from the wild herd.  After that, Forest Service officials planned to round up the wild horses and remove them from the national forest land.

READ: Wild horses to be removed from Salt River; conservationists furious

The plan had stirred a huge amount of controversy, emotion and public outcry. The issue also prompted protests, and led advocates and lawmakers to make appeals to scrap the plan.

READ: AZ senators, reps take up battle over fate of Salt River horses

In response to the feedback, Tonto National Forest officials made the announcement Thursday they have decided to “take another look” at the plan.

The response was immediate. Sen. Jeff Flake posted this on his Twitter page Thursday afternoon:

Just received word that the #SaltRiverWildHorses roundup has been called off. The Forest Service has decided to reexamine the issue.

— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) August 6, 2015

Senator John Mcain responded on Twitter as well:

Forest Service is postponing roundup of #SaltRiverWildHorses – step in right direction, but FS must engage w/ concerned Arizonans, answer Qs

John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 6, 2015

Bill Miller is the attorney representing the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, which filed a lawsuit to stop the feds from removing the horses.

Miller said that public pressure from the community had an impact on the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to take a step back and re-evaluate the wild horse issue.

“I think it was the forest service making the decision to monitor public input,” said Miller. “Obviously, they will be looking at the law we cited in our lawsuit and doing some due diligence to whether or not this is a proper decision.”

Miller said that Thursday’s announcement was a victory, but he’s not about to celebrate.

He plans to move forward with their lawsuit to prevent the forest service from ever removing wild horses in the future.

PHOTOS: Salt River wild horses