BLM Releases 2014 Roundup Schedule Devastating to Red Desert Wild Horses

By Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation
as published on Wild Hoofbeats

“Week by week, month by month and year by year the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) chisels away at what few herds of wild horses and burros remain on public lands while giving more and more concessions to welfare grazing interests.  While screaming that they have no money nor room for former free equines the BLM announced last week that they are going to rip yet another 2,500 equines from their rightful homes and virtually “zero out” or totally destroy several long standing Wyoming herds.

Equine photographer, and Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Carol Walker has taken the time to put the the math to the BLM schedule and sheds light on a very serious situation in her latest blog post.  Please check back often as we will attempt to keep you abreast of this rapidly developing story as the future well being of thousands of wild equines hangs in the balance as the BLM dances with the law and climbs into bed with private, profiteering grazing interests.” ~ R.T.


Mares rounded up in Salt Wells Creek in December 2013 ~ photo by Carol Walker

The BLM has finally released its roundup schedule for 2014:

http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/whbprogram/herd_management/tentative_gather_schedule.html

On this schedule are three roundups in Wyoming:

Adobe Town 8/20 – 8/24, plan to remove 177 wild horses

Salt Wells Creek 8/24 – 8-28, plan to remove 228 wild horses

Great Divide Basin 8/28 – 9/10,  plan to remove 541 wild horses

This is despite having just rounded up and removed 586 wild horses from Salt Wells Creek and Adobe Town in December 2013.

Looking at the numbers provided by the BLM, Great Divide Basin will be virtually zeroed out after this roundup and removal. The AML for the area is 415-600 wild horses. At their May 2013 count they said there were 439 horses and they estimated that there would be 579 in the summer of 2014.  Removing 541 would be almost all,  if not all, of them.

In Salt Wells Creek, the AML is 251-365. In their projected estimate before the 2013 roundup the BLM said there were 823 wild horses, they removed 586,  and they plan to remove 228. Even estimating a 20% population increase this year, this would bring the population below low AML.

In Adobe Town, the AML is 610-800 wild horses. The BLM projected the population to be 624 in 2013, they removed 14 in 2013 and they plan to remove 177, Even estimating a 20% increase in population this year, this would bring the population below low AML.

Currently, the Resource Management Plans for both the Rock Springs and Rawlins Areas are being revised. It is during the Resource Management Revision process that AML can be changed for herd management areas and herd management areas can be changed to herd areas, allowing them to be zeroed out. This process has NOT happened yet…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story

Push for removal of chuckwagon races after Stampede horse death

SOURCE:   news1130.com

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by Joanne Abshire

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The Vancouver Humane Society is calling for a stop to the chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede after a horse died in a training exercise today. Peter Fricker with the animal rights group is urging organizers to have a fundamental review done by equine experts, suspend the race or at least consider some changes.

“They could look at the type of horses that are used in this race. At the moment they are using ex-thoroughbred race horses and it’s possible that that kind of horse is not suited for this kind of race. Or there’s something wrong with the horses that they choose to run in that race because this just keeps happening…they need to suspend this race.”

Other suggestions include reducing the number of teams in each heat or decrease the number of horses. Fricker admits the Calgary Stampede has made some improvements but more needs to be done. As he argues, more than 60 horses have died in the chuckwagon races since 1986.
“The changes that Stampede has made to safety at the chuckwagon races, hasn’t gone far enough. Animals keep dying every year at the Stampede.”

A post mortem review indicates “Denny” the 12-year-old thoroughbred died of an aneurysm. Also, a chuckwagon driver was sent to the hospital after a separate training accident.

Dept. of Interior Whistleblower: Records Were Altered

“A whistleblower complained that the bureau in Sacramento erased records within an Interior Department database and altered spreadsheets in an effort to hide mismanagement of collections under the agency’s control…” 

Thank you to whistleblower Patrick Williams: “They more or less wanted to sweep it under the rug,” Williams said in an interview. “They were telling me to change things they didn’t want to see in the record and not to record information that tribal members might want to see as part of a repatriation request.”

A Department of Interior agency is being investigated for breaking the law.  We need to wait to find out the results of the investigation, but it is of concern that databases and spreadsheets could be, and may have been, altered within the Department of Interior.  Sally Jewell, what assurances do American taxpayers have that this isn’t a widespread practice?  What steps can you take to make sure this doesn’t happen?

Secretary-Jewell-200x278  Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell (Photo: Tami Heilemann)

SOURCE:  santafenewmexican.com

Agency accused of violating law on remains, relics

By Susan Montoya Bryan the Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, — An independent federal agency is calling for an investigation into allegations that U.S. officials ignored a law requiring them to catalog, preserve and ultimately return human remains and relics to American Indian tribes.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has directed the Interior Department to investigate whether U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials have violated the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act while managing collections of remains and artifacts amassed during the construction and management of dams and waterways throughout California and parts of Nevada and Oregon.

A whistleblower complained that the bureau in Sacramento erased records within an Interior Department database and altered spreadsheets in an effort to hide mismanagement of collections under the agency’s control, resulting in hundreds of remains and artifacts being lost, boxed up for storage or loaned to museums and universities without the ability to track them.

The watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it hopes the inquiry will be expanded to cover more agencies and more parts of the West.

“These are relics that do not belong to the American government,” said Jeff Ruch, the group’s executive director. “The point of the law is they belong to the tribes from which they came. If these were your ancestors’ remains and they were boxed up someplace where you couldn’t get any information about them, you’d be pretty angry.”

A spokesman with the Bureau of Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific office could not immediately comment, saying he was unaware of the whistleblower’s case and the call for an investigation.

The federal government’s handling of Native American remains and artifacts has been criticized for years. Following a critical report by the Government Accountability Office in 2010, the Interior Department asked for more money and at least eight years to bolster compliance with the law.

But progress has been slow and frustrating, and communication with tribes is still lacking, said D. Bambi Kraus, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers. “It’s encouraging that this is being investigated,” she said.

A filing with the Office of Special Counsel shows Patrick Williams, who used to work as a museum specialist in archaeology in the bureau’s Mid-Pacific office, raised concerns with his supervisors that the agency was not complying with the law’s requirements once it stopped keeping detailed records of remains and relics. He also said the office was not filling out the proper paperwork when loaning out artifacts, essentially making the items untraceable.

The office routinely failed to notify tribes of long-stored and newly uncovered remains and funerary objects, Williams said. Some of the collections date back to the 1970s, when the federal government was building the New Melones dam and reservoir in California.

“They more or less wanted to sweep it under the rug,” Williams said in an interview. “They were telling me to change things they didn’t want to see in the record and not to record information that tribal members might want to see as part of a repatriation request.”

Williams said his supervisors told him creating detailed files of the remains and artifacts to comply with the law was “too complicated and required too much time and effort.” He said his concerns resulted in hostility and threats of termination.

“I’m not about to break the law for anybody, and they wanted me to go along with it,” Williams said. “I would rather step out, and that’s what I did.”

A combination of budget cuts and the low priority assigned by bureau managers resulted in responsibilities under the law falling by the wayside, Williams said.

While it’s unclear how widespread the compliance problem is, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility said it wouldn’t be surprised if similar things were happening elsewhere given that budget shortfalls and other priorities are challenges found throughout the agency.

“This is a statutory duty they feel they can ignore,” Ruch said. “The most important part is tribes aren’t being consulted, so there’s nothing to prevent this from going on for years and years.”

The Office of Special Counsel has given the Interior Department 60 days to investigate the allegations and report back.

 

 

President Obama and the horse mask person: An investigation involving data and charts

of the Washington Post

Tongue-in-cheek mid-week break from the norm

Prez and Horseman

President Obama was in Denver on Tuesday and met a person wearing a horse head mask. This is obviously a pivotal moment for the country and the world, but with such an occasion comes a bevy of questions: What does it all mean? From whence did the horse mask person come? How often does such a thing occur?

As with anything, these thorny issues cannot be resolved with words alone. We must give ourselves over to the comfort of data and numbers, knowing that only through these avenues can we find salvation and providence.

So, onto the charts.

First, we tried to break down the historic nature of this meeting. How often have U.S. presidents met people wearing horse head masks? We looked back at the data from the late 18th century through the present day. This is what we found:

horse mask graph

Okay, so that tells us about how often this happened throughout the history of this country having presidents. But what if we want to look at this from the perspective of how many people have held that office? This infographic gives us a better idea of how rare it is for a U.S. president to meet a person in a horse head mask…(CONTINUED)

Reprint: BLM Long Term Holding ~ Wild Horse Heaven or Hell

(In my own words) by Terry Fitch, updated forward by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“Yesterday, 7/8/2014, Debbie Coffey shared information on this blog about one of the BLM’s long term holding contractors who, regardless of their wealth and TV personality status, abused their equine charges by holding a devastating fireworks display over the very area that we, the taxpayers, are paying to warehouse our splintered remnants of captured wild horses.  This report from Debbie, which only shared posted information from Ree Drummond‘s publicly published blog, set loose a fire-storm of misinformation and attacks from a serious group of internet trolls who thought they were coming to the aide of their beloved multimillionaires ‘Pioneer Woman’ and her husband who is nicknamed after a cigarette.

As usual, anything that comes close to the BLM and/or grazing interests, the attacks were full of misinformation and blatant lies regarding the property where the horses are kept…”the area is full of valley’s, hills, forests, etc. so the horses never saw a thing.”  Sorry trolls, we know different, we have someone who has been there under the watchful eye of the BLM during a sanctioned tour and that someone is my wife and co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Terry Fitch…and it was all caught on camera and published, here, on November 12th, 2010.

Granted, the Drummond property is expansive and not all of it is legally designated as holding for the horses but one of it’s unique characteristics is that, outside of the eastern and north east corner, it is wide open prairie land.  Not a tree to be seen and the “valleys” are nothing more than gentle rolling hills making it very easy for humans or horses to easily view overhead pyrotechnics.  It’s wide open folks with only a gentle hill barely obscuring the Drummond compound to the major state road to the south.

Debbie has reported the facts, these people use your money given from the BLM to warehouse horses that should never have had their freedom and families destroyed in the first place and their abuse of your trust should be exposed.

Please take a few moments and read Debbie’s report, if you have not, and read the report written by Terry back in 2010; one who rarely speaks and never writes.

There is truth in the words of both these brave and outstanding women.

Thank you Deb and Terry.

Keep the faith!” ~  R.T.


Pretty to the Eye – Sterile to the Soul

Tulsa, OK Nov 11, 2010 – (SFTHH) The much anticipated “press day” for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Long Term Holding Tour started out by meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel (Airport) at 8:00 am in Tulsa, OK. Debbie Collins, National WH&B Marketing Specialist; Lili Thomas,Wild Horse & Burro Program Specialist; Pat Williams, WH&B Facility Manager; Art from the Media Division of the BLM; Janet Jankura, Public Interest Representative from the BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board; two gentlemen reporters from Tulsa World and me.

We drove for about an hour and a half where we stopped and picked up 3 more people along with a local film crew (Channel 6). We continued on our journey until about 10:45 when we got to our first destination. The ranch was located out in the middle of virtually nowhere. We could see herds of wild horses before we even entered the ranch. I must admit, it was very picturesque; like something out of a movie. We were greeted by Ladd Drummond of Drummond Land & Cattle Co., a fourth generation rancher. The Drummond family (according to The Land Report) owns approximately 120,000 acres which, according to Debbie Collins of the BLM, 24,292 of those acres are dedicated to the approximately 3400 wild horses living out their lives on this land.

If I didn’t know the first thing about wild horses, I would say that this is a paradise for the horses; however, I do know a little something about wild horses. The BLM attempts to portray this living arrangement as a paradise for the horses with their videos of the horses frolicking through the pastures. If these were domestic horses, it would be a perfect environment; but, they’re not. They are wild horses that belong in the wild. I guess; however, it is better than the alternative feed lots and 3-strikes $25.00 sales to kill buyers.

While all looks completely natural to a non-horse person, you soon realize that the mares and geldings are living in separate facilities; hence, no family units. The reason, according to the BLM, is that some of the geldings could still reproduce due to Cryptorchidism and other such oddities; therefore, foals were being born, adding to the alleged problem.

The ranchers, per Ms. Collins, are paid $1.35 to $1.50 per head, per day. For these 3400 horses, that equals to $4590-$5100 per day or $1,675,3500-$1,861,500 per year. Out of these moneys, the ranchers are required to pay for everything from feed, hay, pasture maintenance, fencing, vet care, etc. In addition, they are required to provide chutes to unload the horses and small corrals to acclimate them to their new environment. From there, they are moved to a paddock and then to their final pasture.

The horses are vaccinated, only once, when ‘processed’. After that, they virtually live out their lives as ‘wild’ horses. Once the horses are at the long term facility, there is no hoof care nor vaccinations. The BLM does, however, require there to be adequate amounts of rocks in the pastures so that the horses wear their hooves down naturally. A potential long term facility must add rocks to their pastures in order to be accepted into the program. At the two facilities we visited, both had rocks in the pastures and, from what I could tell, their hooves looked naturally worn. There were natural water sources such as ponds and creeks, along with water troughs.

The ranchers seed and fertilize the pastures along with ‘managed burns’, if necessary. And, to help them sustain in the winter months, the horses are supplementally fed pellets along with hay. Of course, being in captivity, it doesn’t take them long to recognize the feed truck and chase it, which they did in our presence.

All in all, it’s the perfect place for domestic horses not wild horses that are ripped from their family bands, separated by gender, and living their days out. The horses do live longer in captivity.

There are 16 such long term facilities; 10 of which are in Oklahoma. The BLM plans to add 4 more next year for a total of 20 facilities in 5 states.

The second facility was a reiteration of the first facility; only there were 2500 horses on 19,295 acres.

Multi-Millionaire Cowpoke Ladd Drummond & Pioneer Woman put on explosive fireworks show for wild horses AGAIN!

by Debbie Coffey, V.P. and Director of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Once again, multi-millionaire cowpoke Ladd Drummond and wife, Ree (the multi-millionaire “Pioneer Woman”), “treated” the wild horses under his care in Long Term Holding on their pastures (and likely a couple of other nearby Long Term Holding pastures) to another loud fireworks show for the 4th of July.

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(Ladd Drummond photo: celebritynetworth.com) 

On July 4th, 2014, Ree Drummond wrote on her Pioneer Woman website:

“Well, fireworks had to be obtained.  I’ll just leave it at that until my Fireworks 2014 post on Monday.  Warning: You might need sunglasses in order to read it!  My husband and his brother have still not learned the fine art of subtlety when it comes to purchasing legalized explosives.

And actually, you might need a welding mask in order to read it.  The photos will burn holes in your retinas!”

Then, on 7/7/14, Ree posted videos of the fireworks HERE.  (Be sure to watch these so you can imagine how much the wild horses liked them.  Also, notice the last photo, which shows the many empty fireworks boxes being thrown into the back of a truck.  We’re not talking about a few sparklers here.)

Under one video, Ree wrote “And here’s where all eight kids wound up trembling on my lap.  And a couple of parents, too.”

(I’m surprised 2,931 wild horses didn’t end up on her lap!)

We wrote about the Drummonds and fireworks in 2011 (READ HERE).

In 2012 I sent an e-mail to BLM’s Joan Guilfoyle, Dean Bolstad and Mike Pool informing them:

“Once again, Ladd Drummond, who has a wild horse long term holding contract in Oklahoma, put on a really big 4th of July fireworks show (see link below) on his property. These weren’t just a few sparklers, but what seemed to be hundreds of 500 gram fireworks (there are quite a few photos of the many boxes, including a box of 9 “One Bad Mothers”).

His LTH pasture and another wild horse long term pasture are only a few miles apart.  How do you think the wild horses fared during the big fireworks show, with the loud noise and the fireworks bursting in the air? (The fireworks could probably be seen for miles, since Oklahoma is relatively flat.)  

Do you consider a fireworks show to be in violation of the BLM contract with this long term facility?  If not, why not?  We look forward to your response.”

There was never any response from Guilfoyle, Bolstad or Pool.

But, there WAS another article on the fireworks in 2013 (READ HERE).

This is another example showing that the BLM doesn’t seem to care about the welfare of the wild horse & burros.  But we do.  And, with your help, we’ll continue to fight for the rights of the wild horses & burros to live on their federally protected Herd Management Areas with their family bands.

Where Horses are Heroes

By Jennette Barnes published in the Boston Globe

At the Wild Hearts Therapeutic program, recovering war veterans bond with animals for well-being

 Jennette Barnes for The Boston Globe Iraq War veteran Rich Muldoon works with a horse named Kipper as part of the Wild Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Program in West Bridgewater. The horses help people who suffer from post-traumatic stress, brain injury, and psychological illnesses.


Jennette Barnes for The Boston Globe
Iraq War veteran Rich Muldoon works with a horse named Kipper as part of the Wild Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Program in West Bridgewater. The horses help people who suffer from post-traumatic stress, brain injury, and psychological illnesses.

WEST BRIDGEWATER — Humans can learn from what it takes to get a horse to trust us.

A horse is a prey animal whose ears are always alert to danger and whose instinct is to flee, even from humans. The staff at Wild Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Program have a word for it: hypervigilance.

They see the same hypervigilance in people who have suffered trauma, particularly in some military personnel and veterans. In response, the organization started a program called Wild Hearts Horses for Heroes, which aims to help veterans and active-duty military personnel address problems that make it difficult to readjust to civilian life or return to duty, including post-traumatic stress disorder, other psychological issues, and traumatic brain injury.

On July 11 at a backyard farm in West Bridgewater, two Rhode Island veterans, Judy Feightner-Frederick and Rich Muldoon, will complete the program’s first veteran-specific class, Healing through Horsemanship.

Over the course of 10 weeks, the veterans learn to groom a horse, put on and remove a rope halter and lead, and guide the horse through a series of natural movements, such as walking, trotting, and turning.

Wild Hearts’ main program, equine-facilitated psychotherapy, is similar, but focuses less on horsemanship and more on specific goals set by a therapist. While the military program employs a horsemanship trainer, one-on-one therapy sessions are led by a clinical social worker, with Wild Hearts’ executive director, Julie Lovely, acting as the equine specialist.

Right now the program has only three clients because the therapist spends just one day a week at the farm, Lovely said.

Nicole Long, the social worker and equine-facilitated psychotherapist, watched during a recent class as Feightner-Frederick worked with Izzy, a gray Morab who Long said is accustomed to being the dominant horse.

“That’s why we’re so excited this is happening today,” she said. Despite Izzy’s inclinations to the contrary, he moved about the ring in response to Feightner-Frederick’s signals. His cooperation, she said, depends on the trusting relationship the handler has been able to build with him.

“Without that, none of this would happen,” she said.

Participants learn to respect the horse’s instincts, thereby reflecting on the congruence of feelings and actions, and they help the horse respond positively to an unfamiliar object.

Long said that although alertness can be positive and necessary for both horses and people, the program helps veterans to contain it, so it does not generate severe anxiety or the desire to isolate themselves from others.

Feightner-Frederick, 61, said trusting people has been difficult since she left the Army 20 years ago.

She joined the Women’s Army Corps in 1974, four years before women were integrated into regular Army units. Back then, how to do one’s makeup and hair were still part of the training, she recalls.

When she later became the first woman working in the California headquarters of her unit, the men did not accept her, she said.

She was stationed in various locations, both overseas and in the United States, and attained the rank of sergeant first class. She said she experienced ongoing sexual harassment, and her superiors, far from stopping it, would suggest it was more or less her fault. After that, she said, “You just don’t trust people like you used to.”

When she left the military in 1994, she had difficulty keeping a job. When she did work, she took care of dogs at a canine day care, a veterinarian’s office, and a pound.

“I didn’t want to be around humans,” she said.

According to Feightner-Frederick, her husband says their relationship has improved since she started learning horsemanship. In the past, she would talk loudly and gesticulate when she got excited, neither of which she can do around the horse. With a horse, you have to take baby steps and work as a team, she said…(CONTINUED)