Spencer Lennard: Subsidies turn Emigrant Wilderness into grazing nightmare

By Spencer Lennard Special to The Bee

“Instead of the pristine trout creek we expected, the otherwise spectacular Kennedy Creek was lined with thousands of steaming piles of cow dung, swarms of black flies, cow-trampled banks and waterways and green algae-filled water.”

Spencer Lennard is an avid hiker, mountaineer and public lands advocate who lives in Oregon.

Spencer Lennard is an avid hiker, mountaineer and public lands advocate who lives in Oregon.

Several friends and I recently embarked on what we hoped would be a wilderness adventure in California’s high country. What we found was nothing like that.

When we picked up the wilderness permit for our hike in the Emigrant Wilderness in the Stanislaus National Forest, we envisioned the Sierra high country to be wonderful fish and wildlife habitat lined with huge, picturesque ponderosa pines and white granite cliffs. The otherwise helpful rangers made no mention of the ecosystem wreckage we were about to encounter.

Instead of the pristine trout creek we expected, the otherwise spectacular Kennedy Creek was lined with thousands of steaming piles of cow dung, swarms of black flies, cow-trampled banks and waterways and green algae-filled water. Instead of what should have been lush, wildflower-strewn meadows at Kennedy Lake, we sunk into a green quagmire of muck created by a steady stream of cows cooling themselves in the shallows.

As we scurried to get above the algae-clogged Kennedy Lake, we encountered several fly fishers, horse packers, photographers and hikers – all aghast and expressing the same sense of disappointment as we were. Why would the National Forest Service and the California legislative delegation continue the taxpayer-subsidized damage to some of the state’s best sub-alpine habitat, especially here, in this increasingly popular recreational area?

As we swatted flies and stepped over the excrement, we were struck by the notion that this hiker’s paradise should not be a taxpayer-subsidized feedlot. We understood that grazing allotments were grandfathered into many wilderness bills – obviously including the Emigrant Wilderness – when they were designated as such. We know that policy change is slower than molasses, especially when ranching culture and environmental issues are being discussed. But we could not understand how the U.S. Forest Service and California’s blue congressional delegation could let such taxpayer-subsidized harm continue to degrade one of our most preciously beautiful places, especially when species and habitat loss are also at stake.

Holding our noses from the stench of urine and feces, we asked ourselves, “Why is this occurring in our diminishing wilderness, some of the best fish and wildlife habitat left in the Sierra?”

According to the National Public Lands Grazing Campaign, grazing programs operated by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management receive an annual taxpayer subsidy of almost $445 million to facilitate a program that doesn’t benefit the public, wildlife or the land. This defacement of our national treasures is occurring just so a few ranchers can cash in their welfare checks.

Private, unirrigated rangeland in the West rents for an average of $11.90 per cow and calf, while monthly grazing fees on federal lands are currently a paltry $1.35. Despite the extreme damage done, western federal rangelands account for less than 3 percent of all forage fed to livestock in the United States. If all livestock were removed from public lands in the West, beef prices would be unaffected.

Cattle destroy native vegetation, damage soils and stream banks, and contaminate waterways with fecal waste. After decades of livestock grazing, once-lush streams and riparian forests have been reduced to flat, dry wastelands; once-rich topsoil has been turned to dust, causing soil erosion, stream sedimentation and wholesale elimination of some aquatic habitats. The now cow-trodden ecosystem has been robbed of its natural function, as is painfully evident on the landscape…(CONTINUED)

Reprint: Men, Horses, Sex and a Thing Called Love

Last published 01/09/2011, (In My Humble Opinion) R.T. Fitch ~ author of “Straight from the Horse’s Heart

On the Eve of the despicable BLM wild horse stampede and destruction of Wyoming’s Great Basin horses it is difficult to come up with something fun, interesting and uplifting for ‘Feel Good Sunday’ so I sit at the keyboard and struggle with multiple emotions and thoughts running together at many different levels.

I am frustrated that I will not be there to witness for the horses, tomorrow. Just several hours ago I returned from a 6-week stint on the other side of the world and the ranching duties that have piled up before me, here at home, are momentous in their number and scope. Plus, in only three days time we leave for the 4th annual International Equine Conference  (IEC) with the BoD of Wild Horse Freedom Federation immediately followed by, once again, way too much time away.

But as I squirm in my chair and contemplate an early Wrangler Iced Tea my mind and heart reaches out to those who will be there for the helicopter stampede in the morning and warms to the fact that several women very close to me will bare their souls and witness the end and final destruction of wild horse’s freedom and families.

Good friend and colleague, Ginger Kathrens will be there and I personally know how viewing such carnage pains her to the very depths of her soul.

Our own Carol Walker will be there and like Ginger, this will be a test of her strength and fortitude to witness such blatant violations of a law intended to save and protect now twisted into one that destroys and maims.

My heart goes out to them…and it also realizes that other women, best friends of mine, are in the trenches working, particularly this week between the rotten roundup and the uplifting and fortifying IEC occurring.

Vicki Tobin is busy selflessly putting the final touches on the IEC.

Victoria McCullough is preparing her home for the members of the IEC.

Simone Netherlands, Marjorie Farabee, Susan Wagner and Mims are polishing up their presentations while Debbie Coffey, Dawn Reveley and Terry Fitch are in the process of traveling and/or finalizing plans to be at the IEC along with Ginger and Carol who will come directly from the roundup.

Lisa LeBlanc, Grandma Gregg, “S” and many others are intently monitoring activity and keeping the Blogosphere in check… the list of ‘women’ I love goes on and on…

…which brings me to today’s installment, a reprint that, perhaps, is distant text captured in one of my more enlightened moments and saved for posterity to be shared over and over again, as the message is timeless and the written intent is pure.

I offer you some truth, today, and a love well grounded…we extend to you peace, strength and look forward to seeing many of you at the IEC later this week.

Thank you all for being who you are; each and everyone of are very special, indeed.” ~ R.T., 14/09/2014


Rebecca Williams, VP of Habitat for Horses, with several of the Fitch boys ~ Photo by Terry Fitch

Recently I was engaged in an email conversation, with a group of colleagues, on the issue of the extensive cruelty exhibited by Federal agencies and our government, overall.  The discussion was centered on the unimaginable suffering that our native wild horses are subjected to at the hands of the Obama administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) headed up by Bob Abbey under the direction of 5th generation rancher, Ken Salazar the Secretary of the Department of Interior (DOI). (Interesting to note that currently the DOI and BLM’s WH&B program are headed by women) As the conversation progressed it became apparent that the bulk of the mindless cruelty, shown to our federally protected mustangs, is administered by and distributed through men.  Hence, the question arose;

Why is it that men consider equines to be such a threat?

I found the question to be of great interest as both myself and my good friend Jerry Finch, President of Habitat for Horses, have been pondering this same issue for many years.  Jerry and I have been in the horse rescue business for over a decade and we often wondered, as we looked around our ranks, where are all the guys?

Now my intent is not to insult nor do I wish to stereotype but if you will indulge me I would like to offer my observations from well over a half a century of living with and around my own gender.  If there are any gentlemen out there who might recognize themselves in these words take heart as you may be able to make a significant shift that could reap you ample rewards in your current and future relationships be they equine in nature or with human females, they all subscribe to the same forms of acknowledgment.

Overall, and this is huge, the bulk of all men are insecure…full stop.  That’s why we speak loud, push things around, believe that size matters, play with balls and call it a sport, start wars and subjugate women and animals.  Ya can’t deny that boys.

Men like things that they can control such as cars (just point it to where you want it to go and it goes), boats, aircraft, guns, tools, dogs and all things that bend quickly and directly to the male whim.  Men cannot nor ever will be able to adequately command or control cats, horses and/or women…ain’t gonna happen so the result is, often times, abuse and neglect.  Even though I claim no formal education in psychiatry it doesn’t take more than a high school education and an in tune heart to figure that one out.

Terry Fitch, co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation, with her Pele ~ Photo by R.T. Fitch

Female induced abuse and neglect upon an equine is rare and is usually associated with some form of mental disorder.   When was the last time you heard of a husband having the living crap beat out of him by his wife?  Hard to conjure that image up isn’t it? (IMHO)

The male insecurity is amplified when the woman in his life falls in love with a horse and here is where real sparks can begin to fly.  Being inherently insecure the male is jealous of the fact that the human female he desires is sharing and spending love, time and attention on the horse that should be spent on him.  He feels that she must not really have the care and concern for him that he wants or needs if she can show so much affection to another creature while he only stands in the wings.  This insecurity is what has driven many equine related relationships into divorce court, we have all seen it a dozen times over.

There is also the Freudian sexual thing all wrapped up into that mess but that is more than we can go into, here.  Again, it goes back to the bigger is better syndrome and the size thing.

Now men who love women who love horses have a couple of things in their saddle bags that their brothers do not; they are comfortable in their own skins and secure with their sexuality, hands down.  If the woman of a horsemen loves a horse the man sees that women with an expanded heart and a depth of feeling that warms his insides.  Looking out across the pasture and seeing my wife hugging on her horse lights me up because she cares so much about something so special and has room in her heart for not only me but other sentient creatures it just plain turns me on, it’s that simple.

Women who love animals are special spirits as they have the unique ability to carry their compassion outside the realm of human circles and can spread sunshine to all the other travelers on this spaceship we call Earth.  And women who love horses are truly exceptional in the breadth, depth and conviction of their love as they not only have taken the leap from human ties but have bonded and partnered with a creature that is many times larger than her physical being.

Artist Leslie Anne Webb with one of the Loves of her life ~ Photo by R.T. Fitch

Horsewomen have changed the face of the Equestrian world over the last 40 or so years.  The days of using manly terms like “broke” have been replaced with gentled, partnered or bonded.  There are a few guys out there working with horses but they have become smart enough to develop and promote like techniques knowing that their largest audience is the compassionate side of the human race.

But bullies be forewarned; all of the love and compassion that a woman shows a horse can quickly be turned into the hottest and most tenacious fire that you ever hope to see if you should be guilty of harming any equines within her realm of influence.  This is something that abusers have known for a long time as you just do not want to cross a woman over being abusive to a horse and this is also a lesson that the BLM is learning at the very time of this writing.  The most honest, sincere, committed and knowledgeable equine advocates on this planet are women; we accompanying males pale in comparison.  There is something almost magical and supernatural about the ambiance of the women who are dedicated to the cause and commitment to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of our American horse be they wild or domestic.  For an enlightened male this is a tremendous blessing but for the slow to learn, it could spell their demise.

Maybe it’s genetically driven guilt for the sins that my brothers have rained down upon woman and horse alike or perhaps it’s a misplaced chromosome that bends me to their way of thinking but regardless of  the subliminal driver there is one thing for certain; if there is ever any hope of putting ourselves back in touch with the planet around us, and the other inhabitants of this world, it will not be the males of our species but the female who will save us from our own eminent self-destruction.  For within the spirit of the woman resides not only the hope for our future but the heart and the soul of the entire human race.

I am beyond pleased and proud to stand amongst the thousands of women who have made the commitment to protect the most benevolent of all animals on this planet.

I respectfully take off my hat and thank you for allowing me to share your grace; all of you special souls are my most heartfelt hero’s.

Opinion: Wild Horses, Deception and the Despicable Feds

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ president/co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

This past week proved to be a very dark day in Dodge

It's all Spades for the BLM

It’s all Spades for the BLM

Almost a half a decade ago myself, my wife Terry and a team of competent, animal law attorneys huddled in conference calls and discussed multiple ways and means in an effort to halt the BLM from attempting to zero out the Adobe Town wild horse herd of Wyoming. Money was spent, research was done, plaintiffs were identified and one wild horse advocate and photographer was given hope that the herd which she loved might be saved, and then the potential promise was yanked out from under her, just as it was done this past week when history repeated itself much to the chagrin and pain felt by photographer Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

I have always felt guilty about the impotence experienced when attempting to save the Adobe Town herd; of being handcuffed and helpless in failing to be of any assistance. And I have talked openly about letting Carol down, I was hoping that it would be different, this time, but sadly it was not.

We struggle to keep our heads held high as we plod forward in the fight to keep our wild ones free. Often times it is difficult to do while the enemy breaks the law, rewrites history and caters to those who truly abuse and destroy our fragile public lands. But move forward we must.

Some falter at times like this, when it appears that we and the horses have lost and truly, there are many equine families that are about to loose it all over this latest court debacle…but that does not mean that we raise our arms in despair, give in to the moment and admit defeat and doom, far from it. It’s events like this that energize me, give me strength, conviction and focus because in the best form of the English language it is quite fair to say that what just happened sincerely and totally “Pisses Me OFF!

The BLM fails to realize that each time they twist the law and flagrantly flip off the very public which feeds them that they unwittingly pound another nail into their own wretched coffin. The corrupt managers and supervisors of the BLM might feel that they are above the law and are not required to answer for their crimes against this nation and nature but with each dastardly deed they draw themselves deeper into the dark web of deception from which they have lost their ability to escape. And as they sink further and deeper into the abyss there is a quiet army that is working in the background severing their ties, tearing down their means of escape and shoveling in the dirt atop the grave of the deceivers…the day of reckoning is drawing near with deliberate determination.

The BLM has not won, instead they have lost even more of their sparse credibility and have soiled themselves further with their collusion and lies while we grow wiser, tighter and even more resolved to put an end to the abomination known as the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro extermination department.

On the surface it appears that the horses have lost and in individual herds and families there will be great suffering. But the Horse Nation, as a whole, stands resolute in being the canary in the cave that draws the focus of what is wrong out into the open so that those who are pure in heart have a definitive and obvious target onto which they can focus…we know where the problem lies and we might even know how to stop it.

Another herd passes from the land, but not it’s spirit; we will not let the heart of the horses and burros be wrested from our precious, public lands. That will never happen. Embrace the pain, learn from the action and plan for the future, as it is ours.

We will never quit.

Keep the faith.

Ex-BLM Officials Indicted in Elaborate Fraud Scheme

From Illegally Rounding up Wild Horses in Wyoming to obvious corruption within their ranks the BLM just can’t shake the image being a “Criminal Agency”

"I LOVE Horses and Burros, and I am here to help!!!"

“I LOVE Horses and Burros, and I am here to help!!!”

as published in the Billings Gazette

Two former high-level federal Bureau of Land Management officials who worked in Virginia, including a deputy state director from Montana, have denied criminal charges accusing them of defrauding the government in an employment scheme.

A federal indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Great Falls accuses Larry Ray Denny, 66, of Box Elder, and John Grimson Lyon, 60, of Clifton, Va., of devising a scheme in which Denny continued to receive his $112,224 annual salary and benefits as a BLM deputy state director even though he left and never returned to his job.

Rather, Denny relocated to Montana where he contracted with the Chippewa Cree Tribe for drilling and consulting work.

Prosecutors also allege Denny claimed sick leave and regular pay while gone from his BLM job but that bank records showed he visited various golf courses and traveled to Las Vegas, Arizona and around Montana.

Denny, who was deputy state director for natural resources for the BLM’s Eastern States Office in Springfield, Va., pleaded not guilty to four counts during a Sept. 4 arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong in Great Falls.

Denny’s attorney, Penny Strong of Billings, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Lyon, who was the BLM state director for the Eastern States in Springfield, Va., pleaded not guilty to three counts during an Aug. 19 arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Holter. The indictment was filed in July and unsealed with Lyon’s appearance.

Lyon is represented by Evangelo Arvanetes, an assistant federal defender in Great Falls. Arvanetes could not be reached for comment. Holter ordered Lyon to pay $300 a month for attorney fees.

Laura Weiss, a spokeswoman and prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, could not be reached for comment.

The BLM fraud case is the latest in a series of indictments that have come from investigations by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Inspector General into fraud and corruption on Rocky Boy’s Reservation.

The investigations already have led to convictions of former state Rep. Tony Belcourt and several contractors who provided kickbacks on federal contracts.

The indictment charges Denny and Lyon with wire fraud, false claims and theft of government property. Denny also faces a count of federal false statements regarding outside income.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Weldon said in the indictment that under the scheme, Denny left his BLM post “with the knowledge and approval” of Lyon, his supervisor, to relocate to Montana to pursue other business interests as a consultant with the Chippewa Cree Tribe and “for all intents and purposes” abandoned his federal job “without relinquishing payment” as an employee.

Lyon is accused of perpetuating Denny’s fraudulent wage claims by approving and submitting false information to the BLM.

The scheme began in about June or July 2012, the indictment said, when Denny told Lyon he needed to return to Montana to “overcome health-related issues.” Denny left BLM’s Springfield office in July 2012 and never returned.

But from July 2012 until March 23, 2013, Denny was paid for 550 hours of regular work, 461 hours of sick leave, 389 hours of annual leave and 72 hours for federal holidays, the indictment said. During that time, bank account activity showed Denny went to golf courses and traveled to Las Vegas, Arizona and in and around Montana.

In a 2012 job appraisal, Lyon rated Denny’s performance as “exceptional,” which led to Denny getting a $3,262 cash award in November 2012, the indictment said.

When BLM employees asked about Denny’s status for business reasons, Lyon refused to provide any information, claiming federal laws about releasing health information prohibited him from disclosing such information, the indictment said.

Meanwhile, in January 2012, the Chippewa Cree Tribe, located on the Rocky Boy’s Reservation in north central Montana, contracted with Denny Technical Services for drilling-related services, including exploration, energy use projects, research on mineral lease agreements, development of drilling programs and communication with relevant agencies.

Denny negotiated the contract with the tribe, while his daughter, Misty Ann Denny, also known as Misty Brooks, executed the agreement, the indictment said.

For a year beginning in March 2012, Denny received about $67,243 from the tribe in addition to his BLM salary and benefits, the indictment said. Of the amount from the tribe, Denny received about $49,000 during 2012 and did not report it on a federal confidential financial disclosure report, the indictment said.

The indictment also includes forfeiture allegations seeking a money judgment of $112,302 and other property that may be traced to the alleged crimes.

If convicted, Denny and Lyon face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the wire fraud charge.

Both men were released pending trial. The case will be heard by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris of Great Falls.

Click (HERE) to comment directly at the Billings Gazette

Steven Spielberg and ‘The horse the Germans could not kill’

Source: CNN

“Warrior is an extraordinary example of the resilience, strength, and profound contribution that horses made to the Great War,”

Steven Spielberg, director of Oscar-nominated film "Warhorse" paid tribute to Warrior.

Steven Spielberg, director of Oscar-nominated film “Warhorse” paid tribute to Warrior.

(CNN) — Hailed as the horse “the Germans could not kill” after surviving machine gun attacks and falling shells, one of World War I’s most famous animals has been honored with its own version of Britain’s most prestigious medal the Victoria Cross.

Warrior, who arrived on the Western Front on August 11, 1914, with his owner and rider General Jack Seely endured the horrors of the Battle of the Somme and was rescued twice at Passchendaele after becoming trapped in his stables.

After suffering a number of injuries, Warrior returned home to the Isle of Wight in 1918 where he lived until he passed away at the age of 33, and the horse has now been honored by being awarded an Honorary PDSA Dickin Medal.

Warrior’s life has been used as an inspiration by the likes of film director Steven Spielberg, whose film Warhorse won critical acclaim and was nominated for an Oscar.

“Warrior is an extraordinary example of the resilience, strength, and profound contribution that horses made to the Great War,” Spielberg said.

“Recognizing him with an Honorary PDSA Dickin Medal is a fitting and poignant tribute not only to this remarkable animal, but to all animals that served.”

The film, which was based on the 1982 novel by Michael Morpurgo, is one of the most famous of its kind as it tells the tale of Joey, a horse which serves in WW1.

It’s the first time that the PDSA Dickin Medal has been awarded to an animal who served on the front line during conflict in the veterinary charity’s 97-year history.

The medal was accepted by Seely’s grandson, Brough Scott, who is a horse racing journalist and broadcaster.

Queen Mary and Warrior

Queen Mary and Warrior

The ceremony was held at London’s Imperial War Museum where the horse was honored 100 years after he began his journey into war.

“Warrior’s story – which I grew up hearing at my mothers’ knee — was lost in time to the wider world. But now he rides again 100 years later, thanks to PDSA,” said Scott.

“My family and I are more than honored that Warrior has been given this award on behalf of all animals that also served; we are truly humbled. I only wish Jack Seely were here today to witness Warrior receiving the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.”

Warrior is the 66th winner of the medal from the PDSA but is the first to receive an honorary award and the first to have done so having been involved in WW1.

Since its introduction, 65 Dickin Medals have been awarded to 29 dogs, 32 Pigeons who flew in World War II, three horses and a cat.

The most recent recipient was Sasha, a military dog, who died while on patrol in Afghanistan.

Gunnison Prison Wild Horse Program Suspended

By , Deseret News

“We are not able to sustain the program without losing money…”

In this 2007 file photo, an inmate works with "Norton" in the round pen with part of the herd in the background as part of the wild horse program at the Gunnison State Prison in Gunnison. Tom Smart, Deseret News

In this 2007 file photo, an inmate works with “Norton” in the round pen with part of the herd in the background as part of the wild horse program at the Gunnison State Prison in Gunnison.
Tom Smart, Deseret News

GUNNISON — Disagreement over the costs associated with a wild horse gentling program at the Gunnison prison has led to its suspension, and efforts are underway to find a place for 1,500 horses.

The program’s cessation means the Bureau of Land Management will move about 90 percent of the animals to out-of-state facilities, with a prison-imposed deadline to have that accomplished by Oct. 6.

“The BLM’s Utah State Office has valued our relationship with the Utah Department of Corrections and regret that it has decided to terminate the Wild Horse Inmate Program at Gunnison,” said Tom Gorey, acting spokesman for the BLM in Utah. “This program has aided in the rehabilitation of inmates and has, through the gentling of horses, helped place animals into good, private care.”

Gorey added that the state agency decision to end the program will complicate national efforts to make sure there is enough off-range holding capacity for wild horses and burros that are removed off public ranges.

Mike Haddon, deputy director of the Utah Department of Corrections, said the program was losing money and had very little inmate participation. The BLM was informed of the agency’s decision on Friday.

“We are not able to sustain the program without losing money,” he said. “The program was not cost-effective, and we do not know if it was effective in reducing recidivism. We do know it was not serving a lot of inmates.”

Since its inception in 2007, the program had 175 inmates who gentled horses for the public to adopt through BLM-managed programs. Of those 175 graduates, Haddon said only 82 of them had been released from prison — too small a number to effectively judge if the program had any viable, lasting impacts.

Haddon said the differences over money arose in 2012 when the initial five-year contract was renegotiated from a per-head, per day rate to another model of reimbursement.

“There was a discrepancy and dispute between what the BLM believes the department should be reimbursed and what the department believes it should be reimbursed,” he said.

An audit by the Office of Inspector General released last year shows a more than million-dollar discrepancy between the two entities that raised questions over the costs.

The Utah Correctional Industries under which the program operated reported costs of a little more than $5.3 million for the five-year contract period, of which auditors said $1 million was “questioned” —or not allowable under the terms of the agreement.

Of that million dollars, $928,000 was deemed “unsupported,” meaning documentation related to the costs was insufficient, the report said…(CONTINUED)

Many major zoos feed animals horse meat; not unique to Albuquerque

By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4

“You know, if something works, why change it?”

Click Image to View Video

Click Image to View Video

ALBUQUERQUE — After first reporting yesterday that the Albuquerque BioPark will receive 38,000 pounds of horse meat to feed its animals, KOB looked into other zoos across the country to see what they were feeding their animals.

Only six of the eleven zoos KOB contacted across the country responded, and results were mixed.

The San Diego Zoo said they do use horse meet, but said they only recently started using a little bit last year. The zoo said some of their animals stopped responding to all-beef diets, which is why they switched to horse meat for some animals.

The Houston Zoo said they also used horse meet, and noted it was the “most nutritious” meat available to them.

The Denver Zoo said they used horse meat as well, along with Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo, and the Memphis Zoo, which said they used horse meat, but that it only comprised 10% of animals’ diets.

The only major zoo KOB contacted that said they did not use horse meat was Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. The zoo said they stopped using horse meat about ten years ago for budgetary reasons.

Here in Albuquerque, BioPark Director Rick Janser said the zoo tried an all-beef diet, but said several types of animals stopped eating altogether. He says the horse meat they use is safe and comes from the same Canadian supplier that multiple zoos across the country use.

“You know, if something works, why change it?” Janser said. “Why change it just for the sake of changing it?”

Horse meat critics question the safety of the meat, saying horses, in general, are injected with more than 100 chemicals that undoubtedly have long-term health consequences.

After all, horse meat no longer exists in household pet food in the U.S.

Albuquerque plans to go forward with its ongoing purchase of horse meat in the next few weeks.