Federal officials, horse advocates disagree over wild status for Heber herd

Source: Multiple

“That’s an animal that’s part of Arizona history,”

Heber Horses ~ photo by Tom Tingle

Heber Horses ~ photo by Tom Tingle

HEBER, Arizona — Residents in the eastern Arizona town of Heber are in disagreement with federal officials over whether free-roaming horses that have become part of the local landscape deserve to remain free.

The U.S Forest Service believes most of the horses trotting around on the public land are actually lost or abandoned. But supporters, including an Arizona congressman, say the horses were born in the wild and should be allowed to stay there as federally protected symbols of the West.

Federal officials said in an email statement earlier this month that the agency is developing a management plan that would not be completed until 2016, the Arizona Republic reported (http://bit.ly/1sjTFRI ).

Horse advocates and residents in the surrounding Navajo County communities on the Mogollon Rim say they still fear a roundup could happen at any time.

The “Heber horses” are considered part of the Heber Wild Horse Territory, which consists of 20,000 acres in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. The territory came about after the passing in 1971 of the federal Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burro Act. The measure was designed to protect animals from sale and slaughter by hunters and ranchers. According to Forest Service officials, it’s unlikely that the original herd still exists. The protection would only be for those original wild horses and their descendants — not strays, officials said.

Horses that are not legally “wild” could be “subject to impoundment,” the Forest Service said in a statement. In 2005, the agency tried to round up 120 horses but activists initiated action in court. A 2007 settlement called for a management plan with public input for the Heber territory.

Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva has been an advocate for preserving the horses. He said they should be considered a public asset and he plans to monitor management plans.

It’s unclear the affect so many horses have on the land. But many residents think there is no harm in loosening the reins when there appears to be more than enough open space.

“It’s like taking a drop of water out of a 5-gallon bucket,” said Robert Hutchison, who has lived in nearby Overgaard for nearly 25 years.

Donna Doss, who lives in Overgaard and runs an outdoors shop, said she remembers seeing horses in Heber and the surrounding area when she went on hunting trips as a kid.

“That’s an animal that’s part of Arizona history,” said Doss, 70. “I go out once a week to see them and the beauty of the freedom of them.”

The Advocate, the Guard and the Force of the Horse® at Christmas

story by R.T. Fitch ~ author, president of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“It is ‘Feel Good Sunday’ and several of our long term readers have brought to my attention that it is time to dust off some of our formerly published equine Christmas stories and start stirring the hearts over this holiday season; so for the remaining Sundays prior to Christmas, Christmas Eve and the 25th of December SFTHH will be dedicated to sharing tales (tails) from Christmas’ past.  This story comes to you from our book and the blog’s namesake, Straight from the Horse’s Heart, and is one of my better works, in my humble opinion.  So please enjoy and allow these vignettes to sincerely help you ‘Keep the Faith’.  A gift from us to you.  Best to all!” ~ R.T.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Christmas Story for the Wild Ones

Reprint from December 11, 2010:

He checked the time again.  Not an easy maneuver as he had to take his right glove off, shove the left cuff of his parka up, peel back the wrist band of his left glove and then hit the back-light button on his Casio $19.99 special.  Only bought the stupid thing because of the digital thermometer feature it offered and now he wished it didn’t have it as it chilled his insides just looking at the numbers, 33 degrees inside the protection of his parka.

The shivering cold almost kept him from observing the time, 2148 hrs; he thought that was what it said eons ago.  If it weren’t for the seconds blinking and counting down he would have sworn that the watch had frozen and no longer worked.  He tapped the crystal just for good measure and recoiled a bit as the tip of his index finger reverberated with pain from the simple move.  Almost frost bitten he readjusted his left sleeve and hurriedly put his right glove back on.

‘Rotten cold’ he thought; brought back memories of sleeping in ditches in Afghanistan in the dead of winter, thoughts he could have lived without.

He stomped the ground, gave himself a big bear hug and began walking towards the compound’s gate.

‘Maybe walking will generate some heat, besides, I wonder what that stranger is up to on top of the ridge.  Better check the gate to make sure everything is secure.’

His feet crunched on the thin layer of snow that blanked the darkened world.  One solitary utility light blazed above the cramped trailer office but with the snow it was bright enough to see down the drive to the compound’s gate some 75 yards away.  The drive was bordered on both sides by holding pens with extra tall fencing.  They were deathly quiet, tonight but that would change in a few days when the “gather” started.

He picked up his pace towards the gate as he was anxious to put the glare of the light behind him so that he could see better in the dark.  Earlier in the evening he had seen headlights crest the hill to the north and head towards the compound.  The two lights slowed just a few hundred yards from the gate and then blinked out.  He could tell that the vehicle was a diesel as he could hear the rumble of the beast idling but now all was silent.  He hadn’t seen it depart and knowing that someone or something was lurking in the dark, watching, unnerved him.

He shivered as he walked, not so much from the cold but from the deadly memories that overtook him.  In his mind images of darkness, glinting movement and the flash of a mortar rocket launch exploded in his head.  He shook himself, again, in a successful effort to bring himself back to the reality of the moment and found himself sweating in the cold.  He just could not shake Afghanistan from his life, not that he wasn’t trying.  He was now home with his wife, she wanted to start a family, his father wanted him to take over the family business and the VA had helped him find this job with the Bureau of Land Management but the gun on his hip and acting as a guard still conjured up demons that were best left in the dark.

He reached the gate and came to a stop.  All was quiet, he hadn’t realized how noisy the snow had been as it crunched under his boots but now while standing still he could hear absolutely nothing, except his own heart beating, nothing else.

Then he heard a sound, a click or a crack like someone stepping on a stick.  Instinctively, he dropped to a squat, pulled out his side arm and aimed in the direction of the sound.  It all happened so fast, so smooth, so finely orchestrated that he actually startled himself in his reaction more than from hearing the sound.

“Whoa now”, came a deep voice from across the gate, “I don’t think you will be needing any firearms, tonight”.

He slowly stood and lowered his hand gun but continued to stare into the darkness from where the voice had emerged.

“Who are you and what are you doing?” he demanded.

“My name is of no importance and I am simply observing, thinking, pondering and maybe even praying.” The voice replied.

This is Federal property and you have no business being here, particularly at this time of night.”

There came a small chuckle from the darkness, “I beg to differ. This Federal land is public land and I am the public.  Secondly, I am not crossing any fence line nor am I within your compound so as I see it, I am out of your jurisdiction.”

“Fair enough,” the guard replied as he deftly holstered his fire arm on his right and reached for a holster on his left.

“I said no fire arms”, charged the voice with and obvious elevation in intensity.

“No gun, just a light” and with a smart click a beam of searing light tore across the cold Nevada night and lit up the snow covered desert.

His aim was good and true and if it had been a gun, instead of a torch, the stranger would have been shot dead through the heart as he was centered directly in the focused light beam.

The stranger quickly put one gloved hand up to shield his eyes.

“Alright already, kill the theater lights you are ruining my night vision”, the stranger exclaimed, “A little bit of a warning would have been nice.”

The guard’s trained eyes quickly accessed the stranger; relatively trim, tall, worn boots, jeans, parka, rancher gloves, scarf, black Tom Mix style hat with a colorful Indian beaded headband, glasses glinted from under the brim, white beard, a shock of white hair visible from behind the neck and a large thermos mug in the right hand.  His brain registered; ‘Minimal threat’.

He lowered the light so that it illuminated the snowy ground half way between them and in the diffused light from below they were both cast into a curious world of unnatural shadows.

The stranger had been leaning against the outside of the large hinge post for the galvanized gate.  He had straightened up when the light nearly blinded him so now he walked forward and stood directly opposite the guard at the center of the gate.

“What’s you name?” the guard asked with an edge in his tone.

The stranger took a sip from his covered mug, sighed and in so doing let out of cloud of steam.  He paused for a moment as if carefully considering his answer before he replied.

“My name is not important, but it is important for you know that I am an advocate, an advocate for the Wild Horses.  I am hear to witness the atrocity that is about to befall this herd that deserves to be left alone.”

“So in a nutshell you are a nut case.”  the guard scoffed.  He was warned about these types, in fact that was why he was here, on Christmas Eve, to ensure that these horse hugging, weirdo liberals did not do any property damage to the horse holding compound.  He had been told by BLM management that they had creditable evidence that the gather was going to be disrupted by civil disobedience which could include property damage, protests, 4-wheelers, you name it.  These crazies were Eco-terrorists and as a decorated veteran, he was the perfect man to protect his country’s property.  Not that he bought all the hype but he sure could use the time and a half for Christmas Eve and the double time that he would receive once the clock clicked over to midnight.  He was trying to start a new life with a wife that he had not seen in two years and the added money would help to make her smile.  But on the other side of the coin, he had not been with her on Christmas since they were married  a little over two short years ago, before his deployment.  That thought stung his heart and he struggled to bring himself back to the moment.  He fought the urge to look at his watch again.

“If that’s what you want to call me, nutcase will work as I have been called worse.” the stranger countered, “In reality the horses call me Grey Mane so if you need a name you can call me G.M. for short.”

“Sure, so G.M. what’s your business here, in the middle of the night?”

“Just watching and listening”, the advocate mused.  “You know, one of the bands of wild horses is just over that ridge to the west, only about half a mile from where you are standing.  It’s a bright and thriving group.  Ten family members in all including the stallion, mares and foals.  I was sitting up there observing their serenity in the moonlight, thinking about how they only have a few hours left to live, to live free as a family, to live on the land that the U.S. Congress gave them before your agency will meanly drive them into a trap and rip their family apart and shatter their freedom forever.  That’s what I was doing.”

“What are you talking about?” asked the guard.  He was beginning to fidget a bit as the strangers word seemed to drill down to his soul and he did not know why but it made him very uncomfortable.  The confidence and sincerity in which the stranger spoke was extremely unnerving.

“Do you mean you do not know?”

“I don’t have a clue about what you are saying, besides you still have not answered my question.”

“How long have you worked for the BLM?”

“That’s not important nor is it any of your business, just tell me why you are here.”

“No problem there, I am here to witness for the horses.  I will log, photograph, document and note everything that occurs.  I will be a presence of compassion and resistance for all that is happening.  Perhaps I will stand alone as I do now or maybe I will be joined by others.  It doesn’t matter as long as someone is here.  So if you really don’t know what’s afoot, here, I gauge your employment to be under 90 days.”

That last observation caught the guard unprepared, so much so that he almost dropped the light as the stranger was spot on.  He hadn’t been back from the war more than 90 days and had only collected three pay checks from his new job.  He would hit 60 days after the first of the year, next week.

With a bit of a quiver in his voice the guard continued:

“That’s all nonsense, what the BLM is doing is good management.  If they did not capture all of these horses they would starve to death and die.  This is an act of humanity and a proper response from our government.  You can’t just leave all these horses out here to fend for themselves, they need proper care.”

There was an extended pause from the stranger, he lowered his head, put his right hand to his chin then looked straight ahead at the guard;

“I ask for the right to revise my earlier estimate, 60 days or less, that’s the amount of time that you have been exposed to the BLM, right?.”

“What the hell are you talking about, man?” snapped the guard.  Clear desperation could be heard in his voice and seen in his stance.

“No worries; let me ask you a question.  What are you doing for the next couple of hours?”  the stranger asked and through the low lighting a smile could be detected between the white beard and mustache.

“Guarding this place from the likes of you, I reckon.”  The guard answered but even though he was flustered the tone of the stranger had a calming and settling effect upon his jangled nerves. ‘How did he know’, he mused.

“How about a hot, maybe warm, cup of coffee?” the advocate asked.

“Not out of the same mug I hope.”

The stranger smiled, again, “No I have a full thermos.  Now I am going to reach into may parka very slowly for the thermos so don’t draw your gun.”, there was a bit of a giggle in his voice.

The advocate pulled out from under his coat a personal sized, stainless steel thermos and handed it across the gate to the guard.

“You don’t have any poison mixed in there do you?”

“Depends upon what your definition of poison is.  If you consider Bailey’s Irish Cream to be poison then consider that laced coffee to be extremely dangerous.  Otherwise, it might just warm up your innards.”

They both laughed a little and it became obvious that the chill between them was beginning to melt by a degree or two.

The guard poured a copious amount of hot coffee into the top of the thermos and went to hand it back to the advocate who quickly waved him off.

“No, that’s for you, my coffee mug’s meter is still pegged at full. Now, back to our discussion about horses, let me give you a little bit of background.  A little conversation will warm up my facial muscles while that coffee warms you up from inside out.”

The advocate stepped forward, leaned on the gate and began to speak in low and gentle tones.  He took the guard back to Mustang Annie and the unanimous passage of the ROAM act which guaranteed the wild horses a place to live.  He told of the gradual erosion of the law perpetuated by the guard’s employer.  He talked of the grazing leases, of private cattle out numbering wild horses 400 to 1.  He pulled out his iPhone and showed pictures of fat, plump and happy wild horses.  He showed movies of the horror and brutality of helicopter driven gathers, the PZP, the injunctions and the failure of the BLM to follow the law and listen to the people.  He told him of the lies, of Don Glenn speaking to the world of how transparent and open the BLM would be while horses were found shot to death as a secret gather was taking place.  He explained that the BLM’s Director, Bob Abbey, was planning to speak at a horse slaughter summit.  The guard learned that the thousands of horses that would be pulled from his area would be the end of the herd, the end of hundreds of years of free life, the destruction of one of the most unique wild communities in the United States.

And the guard learned that the advocate was not very different from the likes of himself.  His late night mentor was a veteran of earlier conflicts, he had a life, a job, a family and aspirations just as the guard did.  But the advocate also had convictions and the drive to stand up for what he felt to be right and for that the guard respected him as he knew the value of conviction and duty.  He understood it well.

The spell of the advocate’s stories was broken by the electronic buzzing from the guard’s watch.

“What’s that?” the advocate asked.

“My alarm, I set it to notify me when I went into double time.”

“So it’s midnight?”

“Yup, midnight it is.”

“Then I would like to wish you a heartfelt Merry Christmas, my friend.”  said the advocate as he extended a gloved hand over the gate.

The guard quickly clasp his hand in his and used his left hand to grab the advocates wrist, they heartily pumped each other’s arm up and down.

Reluctantly they released the other’s hand and stared across the gate in a clumsy silence when a sound to the west caught both of their attention.  They spun around to look up at the ridge.

While they had talked the full moon had begun to rise and was now just cresting the top of the ridge and as they looked for the sound that had interrupted their respite the lone silhouette of a wild horse arose over the ridge and stood clearly against the light of the moon.

They both stared as the magnificent figure gazed down upon them as the wind danced through it’s mane and tail.  While they were held transfixed; small, miniature ice crystals began to fall and lent a twinkling surreal atmosphere to the scene.  The tiny flakes came not from the clouds but from mountain tops far away, carried by the wind to fall upon their vision.

Far to the right of moon and over the horse a star pulsated and twinkled like a beacon and without any forewarning the shadow horse disappeared leaving only the sound of falling stones and a brief whirlwind of snow.  It was gone.

Neither of the men knew how long they had stood there until the guard broke the silence without mentioning what had just happened.

“You going back to town, tonight?”

It took the advocate a moment to answer as he turned to the guard  who was still looking up the ridge at the moon.

“Yes, I want to catch a few winks at the motel and be back here by first light.  Want to ensure that no chopper takes of early.  I know the date is a few days away but time, date, month, year; it all means nothing to your employer.”

“Not my employer, not anymore.”

“What do you mean?”

“Gun, badge and ID card are being left on the desk in the trailer.  If you will give me a ride I will pick up my backpack and hitch a lift with you back to town.  Don’t live too far from the motel.”

“Well certainly, but what about your job?”

“That’s just it; it’s a job and not my life.  As an American I cannot work for nor represent something that is so foul and corrupt.  I am a veteran and this agency shames me.”

“But what will your wife and family say?”

“Hopefully; Merry Christmas.  I will finally give my father the answer he has been waiting for, taking over the family feed store that he has wanted me to do for years.  And my wife, I will have Christmas dinner with her tomorrow, something I have not done since we were married in a rush prior to my deployment to Afghanistan.  That will be two Christmas presents in one.”

“I should think so”, smiled the advocate.

“But there is one more to give, to give to the horses.”  added the guard.  “I would like to come out here with you in the morning to help you watch and to listen to what you have to say.  I would like to witness for the horses if you would have me.”

The advocate slowly leaned over, set his now empty mug in the snow and reached across the gate, “It would be an honor, my friend, and absolute honor”, and the two men embraced each other across the cold, galvanized gate yet they only felt a burning warmth from within.

“I’ll go drop off my vitals and get my bag, it will only take a second.” said the guard as he spun around and started to walk away.

“Hey”, called the advocate, “Aren’t you the least bit worried about leaving this place unguarded.” there was a touch of laughter in his voice.

“Not if the terrorists are a bunch of Bailey’s drinking thugs like you.” laughed the guard as his shadow grew longer with each step towards the trailer.  “Just hold on.”

The advocate smiled to himself and stomped his feet to get the blood flowing back through his near frozen toes.

He stood there for a moment and allowed his spirit to bask in the warm afterglow of recent events.

He turned, again, to look up the ridge where the horse had stood only moments before.  In that short lapse of time the moon had moved higher in the sky dragging the shining star with it but there was no hint of the horse.

He looked at the star, listened to the wind and noted that the star was brighter and more active in it’s pulsing than it was earlier.  As he gazed upwards it came to him that another birth was being celebrated this clear, cold Christmas morning.  The impact of that realization pushed a warm tear from his eye, down his ruddy cheek and into his beard.

His internal realization manifested itself onto his lips in the form of a big smile and he whispered as much to the Spirit as he did to himself.

“Thank you for the goodness that was born this day and for a new birth, a new beginning for another kind and gentle spirit.  Thank you for an additional voice for the horses, another guardian of their spirit.  Thank you for the new advocate.”

The wind answered with a swirl of snow, a twinkle of a star and the call of a wild horse many miles away.

He smiled in return.

National Park Service also managing horses for extinction

From the article below, it seems that the National Park Service (an agency under the U.S. Dept. of the Interior), is touting the use of the EXPERIMENTAL, RESTRICTED-USE PESTICIDE (aka fertility control drug) GonaCon on the “feral” horses in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

On the website for the National Park Service’s “feral” horses for Theodore Roosevelt National Park, it states there is “now a herd of 70-110 animals.”  (THIS IS ALREADY A NON-VIABLE HERD.)

More disturbing is that Blake McCann, the park’s wildlife biologist, gives a different number of horses to the media: “plans to conduct a corral trap this year to start learning how and to manage the 142 wild horses currently in the park, a number well above the 40 to 90 population considered ideal.”  

142 horses instead of 70-110?  Did stallions give birth?

More importantly, a National Park Service wildlife biologist states that a population of 40-90  (a non-viable herd) is considered ideal.  From the article below, he seems to be more worried about a “viable tool” than about a viable herd.

GonaCon didn’t work the first time the National Park Service tried it in 2009, so they re-vaccinated the same 28 mares with it again last year. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted regulatory approval of the experimental RESTRICTED-USE PESTICIDE GonaCon for use on wild and feral horses and burros in Feb. 2013.  So the National Park Service was testing a pesticide on “feral” horses 4 years before there was even EPA regulatory approval.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has also used GonaCon on wild horses.

They got a permit, BUT Department of the Interior agencies are EXPERIMENTING ON FERAL and WILD HORSES AND BURROS, with little regard for variability or viability.  Plain and simple.

And how were the “volunteers” able to determine that stool samples from those 28 mares weren’t from other horses?

And, the debate about the designation of horses and burros as “feral” versus “wild” also continues.  –  Debbie Coffey

SOURCE:  farmandranchguide.com

Park’s wild horses an experiment in birth control

By Lauren Donovan Bismarck Tribune

548b0207ee9fd.image (photo by Lauren Donovan, Bismark Tribune)

One of the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, along with a few others back in the juniper trees, found refuge and forage in the public campground, which is quiet this time of year.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK – Dan Baker is not like an expectant dad waiting to find out if it’s a boy or a girl. He’s the opposite, hoping to hear that all the pregnancy tests come back negative.

Baker, a research biologist at Colorado State University’s animal reproduction and biotechnology laboratory, is the man in charge of an experimental contraception program in the wild horse herd at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

There is hope that Baker’s work is productive — not reproductive.

Waiting for results

Within a month, he’ll know if he’s onto something that will have implications far beyond this singular herd in this one park — or if he’s back to square one.

The samples are in, and tests will be run soon. He hesitates to even guess at the results.

“It’s totally unknown. It could be anything between no effects all the way to permanent sterilization. This question has never been answered,” Baker said.

If his experiment works, it could be a new way to control the park’s constantly expanding wild horse herd and possibly the thousands of wild horses on Bureau of Land Management land. The method also could have uses in the control of unmanaged wild dog populations in Third World countries, or simply to suppress fertility in domestic horses, dogs and cats.

Badlands lab

Baker’s work in what he calls a perfect — not to mention beautiful — outdoors laboratory dates back to 2009.

“It’s such a great natural lab out there. The area the horses are confined in is large, but not too large. It’s great landscape, and we can find them most of the time,” he said.

In 2009, during the park’s scheduled wild horse roundup and herd reduction, Baker vaccinated 28 wild horses with GonaCon, a vaccine that has been used to suppress pregnancy in captive animals, not free-roaming wild ones such as those in the park.

The results were poor. Half the vaccinated mares became pregnant and, within three years, they all did.

What they’ve since learned is that, even though the park’s wild horses are in excellent physical condition, with good forage, they carry a big parasite load, which may have prevented the kind of antibody response needed to suppress pregnancy.

“Real world horses get injured, or have fence cuts, and their immune systems go toward those things rather than suppressing the hormones that control reproduction,” Baker said.

Last year, the park conducted another wild horse roundup and that’s when Baker’s research took a step further. The same 28 mares were revaccinated to learn whether a second booster of the same drug would achieve a higher antibody response and improve contraception.

Last month, volunteers collected fecal samples dropped on park ground by as many of the 28 vaccinated mares as could be located.

By measuring the feces for estradiol, a hormone excreted by a fetus, Baker’s lab team will soon know if the revaccination was successful.

“As the fetus matures, the concentration of estradiol gets higher and higher. If it’s 10 (nanograms per gram), they’re not pregnant. If it’s 100, they are. In a couple of weeks, after we’ve looked, if everything’s really high, the study’s over,” Baker said.

The proof will be in the lab, but the mares will also be observed in the spring to verify the actual foaling rate.

Park waiting, too

Blake McCann is the park’s wildlife biologist, a man who prizes science and wildlife equally.

McCann’s hopeful the revaccination works, too, but for reasons that have more to do with the horses, than the science itself.

He’d like to see the park bring to an end the longstanding practice of controlling the wild horse population with controversial helicopter-driven roundups and transport to public livestock sales barns. Instead, if the revaccination controls pregnancy by even 50 percent, McCann said becomes more feasible to also lure the wild horses into a makeshift corral in their own environment and remove small select numbers for sale right there.

That practice would be much less traumatic all around for humans and horses, he said. He plans to conduct a corral trap this year to start learning how and to manage the 142 wild horses currently in the park, a number well above the 40 to 90 population considered ideal.

Some doses of the second vaccine were delivered by dart, which was acceptable for the experiment.

“For research, yes, but to use that as a management tool, we would have to go into an environmental impact statement. Darting animals is not part of our management plan,” McCann said.

Whether through contraception or smaller removals from the temporary corrals, McCann said he does not want to see wild horse numbers return to the all-time high of 200 that were there last year when 103 were culled and sold at Wishek Livestock.

“I don’t want to get to 200 again and do another helicopter roundup. With the corral trapping, we can remove a dozen or so every year and get the young mares out before they become reproductively active,” he said.

That said, McCann said he’s hoping Baker’s work is productive, not reproductive, as it were.

“I would like to see the vaccine be a viable tool. We always have to be adaptable as a situation unfolds. I’m hopeful it’s effective,” he said.

 

THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND … AT LEAST FOR THE MOMENT

by Grandma Gregg

Re: Washoe Nevada County Board of County Commissioners Meeting of May 13, 2014

The Washoe Nevada County Board is working on a major land grab of our public lands, to put public lands into the hands of the states and to make the states the decision makers – i.e. no more federal protection for our wild horses and burros.

Apparently, this is going on all over Nevada, and probably all over the western states.

Our wild horse and burro Herd Management Areas (HMAs) that are completely or partially within Washoe county, and subject to losing their federal protection include Bitner, Buckhorn, Buffalo Hills, Calico Mountain, Carter, Coppersmith, Dogskin, Flanigan, Fox Hog, Fox Lake Range, Granite Peak, Granite Range, High Rock, Massacre Lakes, Nut Mountain, Wall Canyon and almost half of the Twin Peaks HMA   This would also include Herd Areas (HAs), such as Pah Rah, New Year’s Lake and Tule Ridge/Mahogany Flat.

Estimating this would affect about 2 million of our public acres and at least a thousand of our wild horses and burros in Washoe County alone!

IMG_1206

Photo of OUR public land and OUR Wild Horses

Map: http://www.washoecounty.us/comdev_files/cp1/horse_map.pdf

Excerpts from the meeting (from page 2 & 3):

Expenditure of public funds for land management purposes can be focused upon both revenue and non-revenue producing activities. For example, production of forage for consumption by domestic livestock is considered an economic output.  Alternatively, production of forage for consumption by wild horses and burros might be considered a non-economic output.

The production of forage for livestock consumption is predicated upon a desire to produce economic returns, whereas, the production of forage for wild horses and burros is the result of the need to comply with federal laws mandating protection of these species. 

For example, WHILE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MAY BE REQUIRED THROUGH LEGAL MANDATE TO PROVIDE HABITAT FOR WILD HORSES AND BURROS, STATES MAY NOT BE SIMILARLY INCLINED.

http://www.washoecounty.us/large_files/agendas/051314/30.pdf

More information: http://animallawcoalition.com/bill-would-authorize-local-control-of-wild-horses-and-burros/

BLM wild horse ecosantuary granted to cattle rancher and former Wyoming State Veterinarian

BLM has just sweetened the gig for working cattle ranch, Double D Ranch.  Besides selling livestock, Double D Ranch sells horses.  It seems that Dwayne Oldham, who owns and leases parts of Double D Ranch, is a former Wyoming State Veterinarian and Wyoming Livestock Board member.

It also seems that BLM gave the okay to a wild horse ecosanctuary in an area where there has been a shortage of water.  In a 2013 article in Wyofile.com, it states “For the second year in a row, the Washakie Reservoir on the Wind River Indian Reservation is empty long before the irrigation season ends for farmers and ranchers downstream.”  And It cost us $150,000 last year, and this year it will be $100,000,” said Dwayne Oldham, who raises hay to feed cattle within the Wind River Irrigation District.We sold 100 cows and weaned calves early last year.

Neil Kornze, Director of the BLM, thinks ecosanctuaries will “improve” the BLM’s management of wild horses and burros.  First of all, only SAME SEX HORSES ARE ON EACH ECOSANCTUARY (same sex = non-reproducing).

Note to Neil:  The ONLY ways the BLM could possibly improve would be to leave VIABLE herds on the range, stop whittling down HMAs, STOP EXPERIMENTING ON WILD HORSES & BURROS (field spaying of mares is unethical), don’t use any fertility control on non-viable herds, take some videos to PROVE the numbers you claim are on the range, AND STOP MANAGING THE WILD HORSES AND BURROS FOR EXTINCTION WHILE FAVORING LIVESTOCK GRAZING, OIL AND GAS DRILLING AND MINING (uses that make more money).

SOURCE:  county10.com

Lander-area ranch to be a BLM Wild Horse Ecosanctuary; Double D Ranch is on the Reservation

ProposedEcosanctuary2

The Double D Ranch land north of Lander looking west to the Wind River Range. (BLM Photo)

(Lander,Wyo.) – The third wild horse ecosanctuary in the United States for off-range care of excess wild horses and burros will be located seven miles north of Lander, the Bureau of Land Management announced today.  The new ecosanctuary would be operated on the 900-acre Double D Ranch, located seven miles north of Lander and would initially hold up to 100 horses, with the first horses arriving as early as the spring of 2015.  The ranch is within the Wind River Indian Reservation.

The ranch is located to the east of U.S. Highway 287 and east and south the Blue Sky Highway (WYO 132) between Plunkett Road and the Ethete intersection.

The BLM’s Lander Field Office issued a Decision Record, resulting from an Environmental Assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act, that addresses comments from the public and adjacent landowners.  The Environmental Assessment can be accessed atwww.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/NEPA/documents/lfo/ecosanctuary.html.  The Decision Record, which finds no significant environmental impacts from the ecosanctuary, initiates a 30-day appeal period during which the public may express comments.

Map of the  Double D Ranch property to be part of the ecosanctuary. (from the BLM's Environment Assessment).

Map of the Double D Ranch property (outlined in black) to be part of the ecosanctuary. (from the BLM’s Environment Assessment).

The ecosanctuary would be run by Dwayne and Denise Oldham, who own and lease portions of the Double D Ranch.  It would be the second BLM-private ecosanctuary to be located in Wyoming; a 290-horse ranch is already operated by Richard and Jana Wilson on the 4,000-acre Deerwood Ranch near Centennial, Wyoming.  A third ecosanctuary, known as the Mowdy Ranch, operated by Clay and Kit Mowdy, holds 153 horses on 1,280 acres and is located 12 miles northeast of Coalgate, Oklahoma, in the southeastern part of the state.

“This advances our efforts to improve the BLM’s management of and care for America’s wild horses and burros,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze.  “Although the challenges facing our Wild Horse and Burro Program remain formidable, every step forward moves us closer to our goal of more effective and efficient stewardship of wild horses and burros, both on and off the range.”

“The Lander Field Office has worked closely with the Oldhams to ensure that proper care will be provided for the wild horses and to address the concerns of neighboring landowners,” said BLM Lander Field Manager Rick Vander Voet. “We look forward to a long, successful partnership with the Double D Ranch.”

The wild horse ecosanctuaries, which must be publicly accessible with a potential for ecotourism, help the BLM feed and care for excess wild horses that have been removed from overpopulated herds roaming Western public rangelands.  The BLM enters in partnership agreements with the ecosanctuary operators, who are reimbursed at a funding level comparable to what the agency pays ranchers to care for wild horses on long-term pastures in the Midwest.  The partnership agreement requires that any profits from tourism activities at the ecosanctuary must be used to defray operating costs, thus saving taxpayer dollars.

Long-term plans under the BLM-Double D partnership agreement include a learning/visitor information center, tours, gift shop, and campground.  The Double D Ranch plans to invite the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the Northern Arapahoe Tribe of the Wind River Reservation to partner in running the learning center, which will interpret Native American culture and the historic role of the horse.  The Wind River Visitors Council, Lander Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Lander support the ecosanctuary and would help promote public visitation to it.

The BLM estimates that 49,209 wild horses and burros are roaming on BLM-managed rangelands in 10 Western states, based on the latest data available, compiled as of March 1, 2014.  Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators and their herd sizes can double about every four years.  As a result, the BLM, as part of its management of public rangeland resources, must remove thousands of animals from the range each year to control herd sizes.

The estimated current free-roaming population exceeds by more than 22,500 the number that the BLM has determined can exist in balance with other public rangeland resources and uses. The maximum appropriate management level (AML) is approximately 26,684.
Off the range, as of November 2014, there were 48,447 other wild horses and burros fed and cared for at short-term corrals and long-term pastures, which compares to the BLM’s total holding capacity of 50,153.  All wild horses and burros in holding, like those roaming Western public rangelands, are protected under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, as amended.

The Double D Ranch now hosts domestic horses. It has been proposed for an ecosanctuary for wild horses and burros. This scene looking north from Plunkett Road. (BLM Photo)

The Double D Ranch now hosts domestic horses. It has been proposed for an ecosanctuary for wild horses and burros. (BLM Photo)

MORE Managing For Extinction?

 Observation by Grandma Gregg

What the ‘ell strategy is BLM using now?  Their internet adoption in the past has been for ADOPTION of wild horses and burros with a minimum bid of $125 and a written promise that the adopter would not sell the wild horse or burro to slaughter for at least a year – but now it appears that they are auctioning off our wild horses online for $25!

We know that in the past, the BLM has sold older sale authority horses and burros for as little as $10 each – with free delivery if you bought a trailer load – and we also know that many of these have gone to disappeared into the BLM’s never seen again pipeline – but now they are auctioning them off online for as little as $25 to prospective kill-buyers?

Below are two examples of older mares captured last summer from Sulphur Utah that BLM just auctioned offto someone in Oregon for $25 with free delivery to misc. sites – including some VERY questionable locations that have been known to have kill-buyers lurking.

Does anyone actually believe that these beautiful older mares are going to find happy, healthy and safe “forever homes”???

Or will it be the same kind of “home” that Tom Davis gave the 1,700 that BLM sold to him and conveniently “disappeared”?


Recent Sales Figures
Fiscal Year Mustangs Burros Total
2014 17 58 75
2013 22 43 65
2012 320 71 391
2011 855 16 871
2010 528 15 543
2009 772 19 791

The BLM’s sale authority figures have dropped WAY WAY down since the article came out in Sept of 2012 about BLM selling hundreds and hundreds of our wild horses to Tom Davis who could not account for the horses and burros whereabouts or well-being. (see chart)

Did that “discovery” actually slow the sales to questionable buyers way down?

OR

Did that “discovery” just channel the BLM to get rid of them with a different plan?
Such as … selling from LTH by the truck load and not including those in the “sales” chart?

OR

Are they experimenting with selling our older horses on the internet for a mere pittance?

OR

Selling them from Palomino Valley (and Fallon etc.) with no brands? (I have seen them at P/V with no brand or tag#)

Not to mention selling them directly from the range when nobody is looking?

Current Time is Dec 6, 2014 10:39:57 PM Central Time
Bidding is now over.

Category: Delta, UT
PREVIOUS HORSE NEXT HORSE

 

 Mare1 Sex: Mare Age: 16 Years   Height (in hands): 14Necktag #: 5350   Date Captured: 08/01/14Color: Dun   Captured: Sulphur (UT)Notes:
#5350 – 16 yr old dun mare, captured August 1, 2014 in the Sulphur HMA, UT (Freezemark:98745350 Signalment:HF1AAAABM).Her foal is #5358, an 7 mo old gelding, that will be weaned and adopted separately.For more information on the Sulphur HMA: http://goo.gl/7qH4On (must copy & paste link into browser).This horse is located at the Delta Wild Horse Corrals, Delta, Utah. For more information please contact Heath Weber at hweber@blm.gov or call 435-864-4068.Pick up options (by appt): Delta, UT; Elm Creek, NE; Pauls Valley, OK; Piney Woods, MS.Other pick up options: Brandon, FL (Jan 30); DeRidder, LA (Feb 20).Adoption confirmation for this animal must be finalized no later than Noon Nov 20th.

We will be offering mare #5350 up for adoption at a reduced rate due to her age through the Internet Adoption on Nov 4-18.

Number of Bids: 1
Winning bid: $25.00
High Bidder: OR7783
Category: Delta, UT
PREVIOUS HORSE NEXT HORSE
 Mare2 Sex: Mare Age: 12 Years   Height (in hands): 14.1Necktag #: 5345   Date Captured: 08/01/14Color: Dun   Captured: Sulphur (UT)Notes:
#5345 – 12 yr old dun mare, captured August 1, 2014 in the Sulphur HMA, UT (Freezemark:02745345 Signalment:HF1AAAAAM).Her foal is #5356, an 8 mo old gelding, that will be weaned and adopted separately.For more information on the Sulphur HMA: http://goo.gl/7qH4On (must copy & paste link into browser).This horse is located at the Delta Wild Horse Corrals, Delta, Utah. For more information please contact Heath Weber at hweber@blm.gov or call 435-864-4068.Pick up options (by appt): Delta, UT; Elm Creek, NE; Pauls Valley, OK; Piney Woods, MS.Other pick up options: Brandon, FL (Jan 30); DeRidder, LA (Feb 20).Adoption confirmation for this animal must be finalized no later than Noon Nov 20th.

If gelding #5345 is not adopted during the November 4-14, 2014 Internet Adoption, she will be available for adoption starting Dec 1st on a first come, first serve basis $125.00 with pick-up ONLY at the Delta Wild Horse Corrals in Delta, Utah.

We will be offering mare #5345 up for adoption at a reduced rate due to her age through the Internet Adoption on Nov 4-18.

Number of Bids: 1
Winning bid: $25.00
High Bidder: OR7783
 Sale Program
Sale ProgramBLM Wild Horse and Burro Sale Information
View on www.blm.gov Preview by Yahoo

Mare1I don’t trust BLM any further than I can throw them.And yet these beautiful wild mares are in BLM’s “protection”! Mare2

Wild Horses: Wyoming’s Governor Seeks Complete Annihilation of His State’s Wild Horses

By Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

SOURCE:  wildhoofbeats.com

Wild Mares In Salt Wells Creek rounded up in December 13, given birth control released, then rounded up again and removed two months ago

It was not enough for Wyoming Governor Matt Mead that 1263 wild horses were removed from Wyoming’s Checkerboard lands just two months ago. Right after the roundup was completed, he complained that in another few years there would have to be another roundup, and also whined about the public not being on his side. Well now Wyoming has filed suit against the BLM claiming there are too many wild horses in Wyoming, even though after the recent roundups, according to the BLM’s own figures, the current wild horse population of Wyoming is only 2508, which is far below the state’s Appropriate Management Level for wild horses. Press release from Mead’s office:

http://governor.wy.gov/media/pressReleases/Pages/WyomingFilesSuittoForceBLMtoManageWildHorses.aspx

Family of wild horses in Adobe Town 1 week before being rounded up and sent to Rock Springs corrrals

It was not enough for Mead that the BLM spent $535,000 of our taxpayer money two months ago rounding up wild horses in the Checkerboard to appease the Rock Springs Grazing Association.

Somehow Mead has also conveniently forgotten that two of the BLM’s Field Offices in Wyoming are very successfully using birth control to manage wild horse populations – the McCullough Peaks Herd managed by the Cody BLM Office and the Red Desert Complex, managed by the Lander BLM Office. But Mead has no interest in controlling populations of wild horses using birth control – he just wants them gone entirely.

Mead seems good at completely ignoring facts when it suits him – this is my favorite:

“Herds will continue to exponentially grow beyond what the BLM determined is ecologically appropriate for each herd management area (HMA). These herds have population growth rates that range from as low as 25% to as high as 58% each year.”

In order to attain a 58% population growth per year, the stallions would have to become pregnant and bear foals.

Older mares in Canon City - many have freeze brands - they were treated with birth control but removed anyway

If Mead wants the BLM to remove all the wild horses removed from Wyoming, there is a problem. Currently, there are over 50,000 wild horses in holding facilities, and most of them are bursting at the seams. There wasn’t even room for all the wild horses rounded up from Salt Wells Creek, Adobe Town and Great Divide Basin in the Rock Springs and Canon City corrals, so they had to send 100 youngsters to a burro facility in Utah. Perhaps Governor Mead would like the wild horses to be gunned down by helicopter like they do in Australia.

Older wild stallions now at Canon City

Governor Mead’s plan for Wyoming will leave a special interest wasteland devoid of wild horses, with drilling pad after drilling pad and public lands grazed down to the dirt by livestock. What he fails to understand is that these are NOT Wyoming’s wild horses NOR do these public lands belong to Wyoming – the wild horses and the public land belong to all of us, the taxpaying citizens of the United States of America.

Small family of wild horses in Salt Wells Creek a week before being removed