Front Range Equine Rescue Claims BLM Trying To Breed Special Mustangs In Oregon

Source: Denver CBS By JEFF BARNARD

“We just believe the Wild Horse Act was intended to protect wild horses in their natural state, not to turn herd management areas into breeding facilities for specific types of horses,”

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Wild-horse advocates are challenging U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans this summer to round up the famous Kiger and Riddle Mountain mustang herds in eastern Oregon, arguing the agency is developing a “master breed” of wild horses exhibiting characteristics of old Spanish bloodlines that are popular with the public, rather than maintaining wild horses in natural conditions, as the law requires.

The Colorado-based group Front Range Equine Rescue filed an appeal of the roundup plan Wednesday with the Interior Board of Land Appeals.

The appeal argues that the BLM returns to the range only horses exhibiting Kiger characteristics, effectively breeding for those characteristics and depleting the gene pool, endangering the ability of the herds to survive in the wild.

“We just believe the Wild Horse Act was intended to protect wild horses in their natural state, not to turn herd management areas into breeding facilities for specific types of horses,” said attorney Bruce Wagman, who represents the wild horse group.

The next roundup is expected in mid-August, with adoptions at the wild horse corrals in Hines in October, the BLM said. Plans call for keeping off the range up to 105 Kigers out of a herd of 141, and 48 Riddle Mountains out of a herd of 73, according to BLM documents.

BLM spokesman Jeff Campbell said bureau lawyers were still examining the appeal, but the bureau keeps close track of the herds’ genetic diversity, bringing in outside horses to the herd when needed, and returns to the range horses less likely to be adopted.

Wagman said the appeal was the first challenge of a BLM wild horse roundup based on genetic issues. Other challenges have been based on claims of cruelty and whether environmental laws have been followed. Some wild-horse advocates also object to the use of contraceptive to control herd numbers.

Wagman said the appeal was not seeking an order immediately stopping the gather, but they hoped the BLM would hold off until the appeal was settled.

The BLM has put on hold plans to round up 300 wild horses in Nevada after a federal judge temporarily blocked it earlier this year for fear of harm to the mustangs.

The BLM gathers the Kiger and Riddle Mountain herds every four years to control their effect on the range. While other wild horse herds rounded up around the West often go begging, the BLM website says that nearly every one of the Kiger and Riddle Mountain horses brought in is adopted, some in competitive bidding. Meanwhile, nearly 50,000 wild horses are held by the BLM at a cost of $43 million a year because no one wants them.

Located about 50 miles south of Burns, the Kigers are known for being strong compact horses that bond closely with people. They come with distinctive markings, such as a stripe down the back, zebra stripes on the lower legs, long contrasting manes and fine muzzles. The most common colors are dun, but a slate gray known as grulla, and a light buckskin known as claybank, are highly prized.

At one auction in 1999, a claybank filly sold for $19,000. Another served as the model for a 2002 animated movie about wild horses called “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.”

“By capitalizing on the fame and desirability of the Kiger Mustang to the detriment of other horses presently found in the Kiger and Riddle Mountain (herds), BLM is participating in the unlawful commercial exploitation of wild horses that the Wild Horse Act sought to prohibit,” the appeal argues.

“By reducing the genetic diversity in the (herds) to only those horses with Kiger Mustang characteristics, and then conducting gathers every four years to round up these valuable Kiger horses to sell them for adoption, BLM effectively creates a breeding facility that injures the wild horses’ survival possibilities and benefits only BLM and private actors desirous of purchasing this ‘breed,’” the appeal said.

The Cloud Foundation Denounces BLM Wild Horse Research Plans

Press release issued by The Cloud Foundation

BLM sterilization studies spell doom for remaining wild horses on public lands

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, (July 8, 2015) – “The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) announcement of plans for managing wild horses on public lands is not only disturbing but highlights their commitment to managing wild horses to extinction,” stated Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation (TCF).

Four of the seven proposals being researched at taxpayer expense include permanent sterilization of stallions and/or mares. While the BLM claims they are committed to developing new tools that allow us to manage this program sustainably and for the benefit of the animals and the land,” and “for the enjoyment of generations to come,” their proposed solutions are contrary to that goal.  Permanent sterilization of wild horses on the range would continue to undermine the already threatened genetic viability of our remaining herds.  Under current plans, BLM would manage 78% of herds at a level below that required to ensure genetic viability (150-200 adult horses.)

Permanent sterilization is inconsistent with the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act which requires managing for sustainable herds. Permanent sterilization is counter to that mandate and would damage the social band structure that has allowed wild horses in North America to thrive.

Earlier this year representatives from several wild horse and rangeland preservation organizations met in Washington, D.C. with BLM Director Neill Kornze, and BLM Deputy Assistant Director for Resources and Planning, Mike Tupper, to discuss possible solutions to BLM’s ongoing dilemma regarding management of wild horses and burros.  The proposals presented included strategies for increasing the number of mares vaccinated with PZP to a level that will begin to impact population growth rates, and measures to authorize and encourage voluntary livestock grazing permit retirement in Herd Management Areas.  The groups also recommended repatriation of wild horses in BLM holding facilities to Herd Areas that have been zeroed-out. These proposed solutions would provide an immediate savings to the BLM.

Mike Tupper promised to respond to TCF and the other organizations regarding the proposals but has failed to do so.  “Advocates are more than willing to work with the BLM for sustainable management of wild horses on the range,” stated Paula Todd King, Communications Director for TCF. “Thus far the Washington, DC BLM is unwilling to consider creative options that would benefit both wild horse herds and the American taxpayer. “

Safe and effective birth control for wild horses has been available for years but BLM has chosen to use it on only a token number of mares,” continued Kathrens. “The Pryor Wild Horse Herd in Montana, the McCullough Peaks Herd in Wyoming, the Little Book Cliffs and Spring Creek Herds in Colorado are managed using PZP, a reversible remotely delivered vaccine. All these herds are nearly to the point of achieving a balance between reproduction and natural mortality.”

“Unlike the national BLM offices, these local field offices are working successfully with the public to create a situation where future wild horse removals are unnecessary,” concluded Kathrens. “Stonewalling of advocates and the American public by the National BLM office is counter-productive to successful management of wild horses on our public lands.  I fear that their actions would lead to the extinction of the North American wild horse.”

Wild horses in the Outer Banks are beautiful, but don’t approach them

As posted on

Click Image to View Video

Click Image to View Video

COROLLA, N.C. – The wild horses in Corolla on the Outer Banks are beautiful, but a horse foundation is reminding visitors not to approach them.

WTKR reported that the Corolla Wild Horse Fund is warning visitors not to approach, touch or try to feed the wild horses on the beaches.

A visitor to the Outer Banks snapped photos last year of a family with children climbing sand dunes and getting dangerously close to the horses.

“I think it’s because our horses don’t run when they see people, people assume that they are not wild and that’s a very dangerous misconception,” said Corolla Wild Horse Fund Executive Director Karen McCalpin.

This year, two women posed for a “selife” with a wild horse that was posted to Instagram.

Currituck County adopted a civil ordinance in 1989 that makes it unlawful for any person to lure, attract or entice a wild horse to come within 50 feet of any person.”

The ordinance also prohibits “any person to lure or entice a wild horse out of a wild horse sanctuary, or to seize and remove a wild horse from a wild horse sanctuary.”

Authorities said getting too close to the horses could be dangerous. They said they want people to enjoy the beauty of the animals at a safe distance.

Op-ed: Wild horse contraception not without unintended consequences

By cassandra nunez, jim adelman and dan rubenstein as published in the Salt Lake Tribune

“The article below is shared unedited and in it’s entirety.  The content bears consideration but we at Straight from the Horse’s Heart and Wild Horse Freedom Federation take issue with those who interchange the words “wild” with “feral”.  Such lack of insight and sensitivity demeans the validity of the author’s knowledge of the prehistoric origin of North American equines but none the less, there are several good points made, here, that are worth sharing and further exploring.” ~ R.T.

Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation photographing the Wild Horses of Assateague ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation photographing the Wild Horses of Assateague ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

In a recent op-ed, Jay Kirkpatrick suggested that our research on the side effects of contraception in feral horses was conducted at an “unusual location,” implying that it is uninformative for managing feral horses. Although we agree with Kirkpatrick that contraception is the best option for managing feral horses in the U.S., we disagree with several of his statements about our work and encourage readers to evaluate this science for themselves.

Our research focuses on Cape Lookout National Seashore, N.C. This region is ecologically similar to Assateague Island, where Kirkpatrick has studied contraception with porcine zona pellucida (PZP) for decades. Our writings argue that PZP is highly valuable and effective, but, as with any good tool, can be misused. We maintain that any “science-based and workable strategy for helping horses,” as Kirkpatrick puts it, should include analyses of PZP’s unintended consequences. Below, we address three of Kirkpatrick’s specific points, referencing relevant studies.

First, Kirkpatrick states that horse advocates have relied on “data regarding the small and unusual horse population at Cape Lookout…”

In actuality, this population may not be so “unusual.” PZP-treated females at Cape Lookout change social groups more often, display more reproductive behaviors and experience more male harassment. Similarly, treated females from three populations in the western U.S. (Colorado, Wyoming and Montana) received more reproductive behaviors from males. Such results have not been seen on Assateague. The fact that behavioral changes were documented in four out of five populations raises the question, is Cape Lookout “unusual”?

Second, Kirkpatrick challenges horse advocates to “identify wild horse populations where PZP has disrupted the social structure or social behaviors of the horses. (By definition, this means the disappearance of harem groups, bachelor groups, social hierarchy or other fundamental social behaviors.) Explain why this hasn’t even happened in … Cape Lookout … “

Although Kirkpatrick is a highly accomplished scientist, he is not a behavioral ecologist and his definition of disruption does not reflect a consensus among animal behaviorists. Behavioral ecologists have long considered mare fidelity, group stability and reproductive behavior crucial to the well-being of natural feral horse populations. As referenced above, if we include these behaviors, several populations have shown important behavioral changes with PZP treatment. Suggesting that important behavioral changes must include massive reorganizations of a species’ social system, as Kirkpatrick does, sets an unrealistic standard.

Finally, Kirkpatrick asks horse advocates to “identify any wild horse populations where PZP has increased the length of the foaling season and resulted in decreased foal survival. Include Cape Lookout … “

PZP has altered the foaling season in several populations. At Cape Lookout, mares treated repeatedly with PZP gave birth over a wider range of months and later in the year than did untreated mares. In western populations, previously treated mares also gave birth later in the season, even after stopping PZP treatment.

Kirkpatrick is correct that data on these foals’ survival is not available, reflecting an important and open question. It is reasonable, however, to hypothesize that animals born later in the season, when fewer nutritional resources are available, would not fare as well — an established principle across diverse species.

Again, we agree with Kirkpatrick that PZP is the best means currently available for managing feral horses in the U.S. His recent op-ed accurately highlighted several important benefits of PZP, including increased body condition, increased longevity and, critically, the need for fewer roundups. However, dismissing research that identifies PZP’s unintended consequences also dismisses opportunities to optimize wild horse management. Our response merely serves to clarify our research and reiterate our position that as with any valuable tool, PZP’s use should be carefully and continually evaluated when possible.

Cassandra Nuñez is adjunct assistant professor of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Iowa State University. Jim Adelman is an assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Iowa State University. Dan Rubenstein is a professor at Princeton University who studies the behavior and ecology of horses, zebras and wild asses.

Wildlife Authorities Say Wild Horses Not Endangered: No Difference Between Wild And Domesticated Horses

By Rhodi Lee, Tech Times

“The Federal Trashing of Wild Equines Continues…”

Last year, two conservation groups filed a petition that calls to include the North American wild horse in the Endangered Species Act with the Friends of Animals and The Cloud Foundation arguing that over 40,000 of these wild horses are threatened to disappear on federal lands throughout 10 Western states.

The conservationists likewise argued that these mustangs are a distinct population with different physiological and behavioral characteristics from domesticated horses.

The petition says that the habitat of mustang has decreased by 40 percent since the Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act was signed into law by then President Richard Nixon in 1971.

It argues what the Bureau of Land Management already rejected long ago that the wild horse is a native species for a temporary period of time then went extinct until Spanish explorers reintroduced the species to North America in 1500s.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, however, rejected the proposal on Wednesday after finding that the petition did not present sufficient evidence to support that wild horses are a distinct population segment. In a new 90-day finding that refuses to study the matter any further, the agency concluded that in essence, a horse is a horse.

The wildlife authority said that while behaviors between wild and domesticated animals belonging to the same species may vary, the petition was found to lack in significant information that could show the North American wild horse may be distinct from other horse populations as a result of behavioral difference.

 BLM, which continues to stand that the wild horses are not native, said that these horses were descended from domestic horses that were brought by the European explorers and others that escaped or were released from captivity in modern times. Friends of Animals said that it was disappointed with the finding of the agency.

“These horses are different, they are treated different under the law, they behave differently and there’s some evidence they are genetically different,” said Friends of Animals lawyer Jennifer Barnes, who added that they plan to look for more details before they would decide if they should file an emended petition to slow down BLM’s roundups of mustangs.

Some organizations such as the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association and the Public Lands Council, however, were not amenable to listing the wild horses under the Endangered Species act.

The Cloud Foundation Clarifies BLM Action to Remove Select Young Pryor Mustangs

Removal of young Pryor Mustangs excludes helicopter use

Ginger filming Cloud and Family, May 2014 ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Ginger filming Cloud and Family, May 2014 ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO.  The Billings Montana BLM Field Office decision to remove 15 – 20 young horses from the Pryor Mountains this summer has met with an outcry and a lawsuit filed by an East Coast animal rights group, but not from The Cloud Foundation (TCF). “There is much misinformation being circulated about this herd and this removal, and we decided to underscore the facts,” stated Linda Hanick, TCF Board Member and Manager of the Foundation’s large Facebook page. “If every herd were this well documented, all our wild horse herds in the West would be in much better shape.”

The Billings BLM Field Office Decision Record outlines Alternative A, the Plan which they chose based on public comments. TCF clarifies much of the misinformation being circulated about this removal decision:

•  15-20 horses will be removed using bait-traps set up near water sources later this summer.

•  There will be no helicopter roundup.

•  The BLM is NOT removing all the horses on the mountain.

•  The herd will remain at a genetically viable level above 150 horses.

•  Specific horses are targeted for removal to create the least impact on the herd.

•  Horses from well-represented family lines are targeted first, so family lines and unique colors will be retained on the mountain.

•  There are no livestock grazing leases in the wild horse range. This wild horse range was established in 1968, (prior to the 1971 Wild and Free Roaming Act), for exclusive use by wild horses and other wildlife.

•  The population of this herd is not inflated nor unknown.

For over two decades, Ginger Kathrens, Founder and Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation (TCF) has documented and advocated for the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd on the Wyoming-Montana border. The herd has become famous, largely because of Cloud, an unusual pale, palomino stallion with an indomitable spirit, documented from the day of his birth by Kathrens’ who produced three award-winning documentaries about the charismatic stallion for the PBS Nature series.

Ginger would be the first to say that she and TCF have often had opposing views to the BLM when it comes to wild horse management on public land. But in recent years, TCF has begun working with the Billings BLM to develop an “on the range” management plan that does not include chasing the horses for miles down treacherous, rocky trails with a helicopter.

“Many BLM field offices do not take public comments into consideration,” states TCF Communications Director, Paula Todd King.. “If an animal rights group really wants to raise funds from the public and spend money on lawsuits to fight the BLM, there are many BLM offices far more deserving of effort, money and attention than the managers of the Pryor herd.”

“Our goal and the goal of the Billings BLM is to eliminate removals in the future,” Kathrens concludes. “We’re not quite there yet, and I’d rather see fewer than 15 young horses removed this time around, but I believe that the current management strategies are leading to a day when no young mustangs will be removed, and every single foal born wild, will live its life in precious freedom.”

The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range consists of over 39,000 acres of desert, forests, and high mountain meadows.  The major issue facing wild horses in the Pryors is a shortage of rangeland.  The US Forest Service and National Park Service have withdrawn 2 prime grazing areas, which limits the number of wild horses that the existing range can support.

WY Gov Continues War on Wild Horses

Source: Multiple

“Welfare Ranchers” Root Cause of Wild Horse Court Case

Gov Matt MeadWyoming Gov. Matt Mead is appealing a federal judge’s recent dismissal of a lawsuit the state filed seeking to force the federal government to remove more wild horses from public lands in the state.

“The situation has not changed,” Mead said Friday in announcing the state’s appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

“The (U.S) Bureau of Land Management has still not properly managed the wild horse population in Wyoming,” Mead said. “Mismanagement of the herds can have adverse consequences for the range and other species which share that habitat. The BLM’s approach fails to comply with the applicable law.”

U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal of Cheyenne in April granted requests from the Interior Department and wild horse advocacy groups to dismiss the state’s lawsuit. She ruled the BLM wasn’t required to remove wild horses from areas where it had determined they were overpopulated.

In asking Freudenthal to dismiss the state’s case, the federal government and animal protection groups pointed out that the BLM may consider several factors before it decides to proceed with roundups under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

“If wild horse management could be distilled to a numerical calculation, there would be no reason for Congress to have specified the various factors for consideration in the determination that an overpopulation exists and that action is necessary to remove excess animals,” Freudenthal wrote.

The ruling was a setback to Wyoming ranchers concerned that too many wild horses are harming grazing lands. The Wyoming Stock Growers Association had filed a friend of the court brief on the state’s side.

During the case, lawyers for the state had reported to Freudenthal that seven of Wyoming’s 16 wild horse herd management areas were overpopulated by anywhere from 4 percent to 106 percent.

Earlier this spring, Freudenthal upheld a BLM roundup of about 1,300 wild horses east and south of Rock Springs last fall that had been contested by horse advocates.

Michael Harris is legal director for the group Friends of Animals in Colorado, a group that entered the state’s lawsuit against the BLM to argue against the state’s push to round up more horses.

“We’re sort of shocked,” Harris said Friday of Mead’s decision to appeal. “I think the case that he brought was a long shot, and it was easily shot down by the district court. And we think that the governor should instead work with the Bureau of Land Management to better protect wild horses.”

Harris said he believes Wyoming needs to realize that wild horses belong to all everyone.

“Americans want to see places for wild horse in the West, and all states in the West need to share in and contribute to providing land for a species that Americans dearly love,” Harris said.

Recent Wyoming Stampede of Wild Horses – photos by Carol Walker

R.T. and Terry Fitch (Wild Horse Freedom Federation) on equine disaster preparedness and evacuation on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 6/17/15)



Join us on Wild Horse Wednesday (*SM) , June 17, 2015

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

Listen to the archived show (Here!)

You can also listen to the show on your phone by calling (917) 388-4520.  You can call in with questions during the 2nd half hour, 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.


Terry and R.T. Fitch ~ "Thank You for Who You Are!"

Terry and R.T. Fitch

Our guests tonight are R.T. Fitch (co-founder & Pres. of Wild Horse Freedom Federation) and Terry Fitch (co-founder and Treasurer of Wild Horse Freedom Federation) who helped lead the evacuation of horses and burros for Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita.

Tonight’s radio show will be hosted by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation


Continue reading

WHFF Directors Speak at Equine Advocate’s 2015 Summit


Wild Horse Freedom Federation Volunteers Speak on Topic of Wild Horse and Burro Issues

We, at Equine Advocates, are pleased to share with you the seventh video from our 2015 American Equine Summit featuring Carol Walker, Director of Field Documenation for the Wild Horse Freedom Federation. Carol’s talk is titled “The Fight to Save Wyoming’s Wild Horses.” Please see Carol’s bio at…..

We, at Equine Advocates, are pleased to share with you the eighth video from our 2015 American Equine Summit featuring Debbie Coffey, Vice President and Director of Wild Horse Affairs for the Wild Horse Freedom Federation. Debbie’s talk is titled “Current Wild Horse & Burro Issues.” Please see Debbie’s bio at….

Special thanks to Victoria Racimo, Videographer & TanNa Young, Editor.

Wild Horses: France TV Claims Wild Horses are Overrunning the West

Story by Carol Walker as published on Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“They were thrilled as we drove up to see at least 60 wild horses around the waterhole…”

On Tuesday morning, I took a journalist and a cameraman from France TV out to a waterhole at Sand Wash Basin, home of one of my favorite wild horse herds. The previous day, they had been driven around a herd management area near Lander by the BLM wild horse and burro expert there, and had only seen 3 wild horses. They were thrilled as we drove up to see at least 60 wild horses around the waterhole, and they kept asking me if the horses were going to leave. I explained that the horses in this area were relatively used to people, and if we approached quietly and respectfully, we should be able to get some good footage of wild horse behavior.

spent about 5 hours with them, and made certain to discuss on the range management versus removal, the use of birth control instead of roundups, the livestock outnumbering wild horses on public lands by about 100 to 1, the pressure of special interest groups such as welfare ranchers that are squeezing out the horses, the importance of maintaining genetic viability of each herd,the inhumanity and cruelty of the helicopter roundups and housing the horses in holding facilities without shelter, and the BLM’s plan to do sterilization studies on the horses, to name just a few topics. I pointed out the behaviors that are characteristic of wild horses, that make observing intact families so special.

Then they headed to Rangely to meet up with Callie Hendrickson, one of the most virulent wild horse haters that ever sat on the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, in order to interview one of her rancher friends.

hey certainly could have interviewed some wonderful wild horse advocates in the Pisceance/West Douglas Herd Areas, and given those that fight to protect them a little more time and notice. But they did not.

If I sound bitter, it is not because I didn’t get more air time – it is because they claimed this would be a balanced piece.

News stories come and go, but I am not going anywhere.


Wild horses breed too quickly, a problem for the American West

The United States prohibits the slaughter of mustangs, but authorities still want to limit their number at 25,000, while the country already has more than 50,000 mustangsThe mustangs are no longer welcome in the American West. Federal authorities are sounding the alarm on the excessive number of wild horses on this territory. They will be 150 000 in five years if nothing is done to curb their expansion. A greater problem that these horses reproduce quickly and devour everything in their path, according to the administration, which creates conflicts with some breeders.

2,000 were collected in 2015, an insufficient number

The United States prohibits the slaughter of mustangs, but authorities still want to limit their number at 25,000, while the country already has more than 50,000 mustangs. Breeders who share the land with these wild horses no longer support not be able accessing water points in areas invaded by the mustangs. They hunt other herds.

In total, 2,000 were collected in 2015, a number insufficient to achieve the objectives fixex, but defenders of animals are the barbaric process. Different methods are launched without result, prompting federal authorities to propose a million and a half dollars of reward to find a lasting solution to the problem of wild horses.