BLM to send wild burros to Guatemala to become beasts of burden?

by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Copyright 2014    All Rights Reserved.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is planning to send America’s supposedly “protected” wild burros to Guatemala, where the once free-roaming wild burros may well become beasts of burden for poor rural Guatemalans with, most likely, little spare income for farriers or veterinary care (if there were any even available).  Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in Latin America.

BLM plans to ship the burros about 2, 000 miles.  The food for burros will certainly differ between the USA and Guatemala.   The BLM recently had about 80 wild mare’s die, supposedly from stress, shipping the mares from one location to another WITHIN KANSAS.

Will the burros be shipped by ground, through regions with drug gangs?  There are many human rights violations in Guatemala, so why would American burros be safe in this environment?

The BLM’s “From the Public” page, states this:

Question: Is the BLM looking into a wild burro-related partnership that would benefit small-scale farmers in Guatemala?

Answer: Yes, the BLM, which is dealing with limits on its off-range holding capacity for wild horses and burros, is exploring the feasibility of a wild burro-related partnership with the Defense Services Cooperation Agency and Heifer International (  

To begin with, there isn’t a “Defense SERVICES Cooperation Agency” listed anywhere on the internet, but there IS a DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

Anyhow, putting this (seemingly) error aside, the BLM goes on to state:

The prospective partnership would provide gentled, sale-eligible wild burros under BLM management to assist communities and farmers in Guatemala, where burros are prized working animals and expensive for families in poverty to buy.  If the partnership were to move forward, the gentled burros would help carry water, crops, and other supplies.

I wonder if the BLM realizes that a terrible problem for equine already exists in Guatemala, and humane organizations are trying desperately to help?


American Veterinary Medical Association volunteers in Guatemala have often encountered severe saddle sores in horses.


World Horse Welfare observes “Working hard to transport crops through dense forests, these horses often have high physical demands placed upon them.”


And “During our research it became clear that the horses of Zaragoza worked long days with cracked, misshapen hooves and poorly-fitted shoes, which were often too small and causing pain. Many had wounds caused by ill-fitting harnesses and were in very poor bodily condition. It was frequently clear that the owners did care for their horses, but lacked the necessary skills and knowledge to look after them properly.  This, coupled with the fact that skilled, locally-available farriers and affordable saddlers did not exist, meant that horses working in the Zaragoza area were enduring a life of unnecessary suffering.”

The Brooke Organization states “Reaching working horses, donkeys and mules and their owners and users in much of Guatemala is hard because of the mountainous terrain which can create access problems and the distances between communities can be large.”

So HOW in the world does the BLM, or its partners, plan to closely monitor the care of the American wild burros, and HOW OFTEN will they monitor them?

Animal Aware  states “Animals are generally not well treated in Guatemala. They are usually regarded as something which serves a purpose – as food, or as a source of work, such as carrying loads, or guarding the house. A domestic animal is often not so much seen as a pet, but as a status symbol. Guatemala is a poor country, and conditions are tough and life difficult for many people. Poverty combined with a non-benevolent attitude towards animals makes for a largely unhealthy situation, for domestic animals, and for animals in general.”

Wild Horse Freedom Federation does not think this BLM plan is in the best interests of American wild burros and calls for an immediate halt to this plan.  There is no possible way for our burros to be adequately monitored in Guatemala.

Yep, it’s Feel Good Sunday

Thank you to each and every one of you who care, and then get involved and do everything you can to help.  Together, we WILL make a difference.  We hope you’re all recharging your energy, maybe sipping a wrangler iced tea, and enjoying your Sunday.

We thought you’d like to see this video taken at the Equine Advocates sanctuary, of Sophia, a rescued PMU mare, outside & enjoying a beautiful spring day.


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

Source: CNN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Queen Mary and Warrior

Queen Mary and Warrior

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gunnison prison caught with “hands in the cookie jar.” Now over 1,100 wild horses to be shipped out by Oct. 6th

by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Copyright 2014 ~ All Rights Reserved.

While BLM spokesman Tom Gorey seemingly frets that it will “complicate national efforts to make sure there is enough off-range holding capacity for wild horses and burros that are removed off public ranges,” he failed to mention that the final report of the Department of Interior Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit of Utah Correctional Industries (UCI), in which about $2 million dollars in costs submitted (and paid with taxpayer’s money) was questioned as being seemingly illegal, was issued Sept. 27, 2013.  That’s almost a year ago.

In this report, the OIG pointed out that “we found that UCI’s accounting systems do not fully comply with the standards set forth in 43 C.F.R. § 12.60 for financial reporting, budget control, and allowable costs.”

Why did it take the BLM about 6 years to figure out something was wrong with the accounting at Gunnison prison?  And why didn’t the BLM fire this contractor (rescind the contract) last year

Basically, it was uncovered that this BLM contractor overcharged the government by about $2 million dollars.  Why is the news twisted to make it seem like Utah Correctional Industries just decided not to renew their contract with the BLM because they weren’t making enough profit?

Has the BLM even bothered to review the facility reports and mortality reports from Gunnison?  Or was the BLM only focusing on the money?  More mismanagement by the Bureau of Land Management.

And now, after 80 deaths (and perhaps more by now?) of wild mares being shipped to a feedlot in Scott City, Kansas, another 1,500 wild horses need to be shipped out of Gunnison by October 6th.  Well, the BLM has had a year to find new places for these horses.

Does anyone recall this OIG report being brought up at the National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board meeting?  I also don’t see anything about Gunnsion Prison on the “Quick Facts” page of BLM’s Wild Horse & Burro Program website yet, either.  So much for being “quick.”

The entire BLM Wild Horse & Burro Program is wildly out of control. Here are a few excerpts from the report:

“We questioned costs that we re not allowable under terms of the agreement and applicable provisions of the C.F.R. In addition, we identified costs as unsupported when sufficient documentation related to the costs was not available for review.  Of  the $5,338,880 reported by UCI, we questioned $1,076,464 and classified $928,089 as unsupported.”

“A UCI official told us that the amount reported was based on the total amount funded by BLM and that UCI did not bill BLM based on recorded costs.  UCI was unable to provide any documentation to support the composition of the expenditures it reported. “

“Section III.A.6 of the cooperative agreement states: “[T]he recipient agrees to provide facilities that conform to BLM guidelines and specifications at no cost to the BLM.”  Based on this language and the provision that UCI would fund a share of the program costs itself, we questioned the $125,588 of recorded building and grounds costs.”

You can read the entire Department of Interior, Office of Inspector General Financial Assistance Audit for Cooperative Agreement No. JSA071001/L08AC13913 Between the Utah Correctional Industries and the Bureau of Land Management HERE.

Gunnison Prison Wild Horse Program Suspended

By , Deseret News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4

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

Click Image to View Video

Click Image to View Video

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letter to an Editor: ‘Abducting’ Wild Horses Diminishes Way of Life

By  as published in the Albuquerque Journal

“This wild equine advocate puts our collective thoughts and feelings into words like no other.” ~ R.T.


I would like to express my feelings about the abduction of many, and now I say most all, of a very unique herd of wild horses, the Placitas horses.

"Expectant" by David Cramer

Expectant” by David Cramer

Yes, they are indeed wild horses that live in family units. Ten years ago when I celebrated my 70th birthday, a friend invited me to his home where I saw a band of wild horses for the first time in Placitas.

The lead mare led the family across the way, followed by the stallion protector. These horses have, for years, provided a “way of life” for most Placitas residents and for other people like me who love to see horses living free like the horses that totally evolved only in North America.

As an artist, I find these horses very inspirational, colors never seen before — for example, the black and red. Professional photographers like David Cramer, Lynne Pomeranz and many others, have enjoyed seeing and documenting the many antics of wild horse behavior. Poets and writers have told their stories.

“A way of life,” which has been and still is treasured. Even after lengthy meetings this summer, Placitas residents all agreed on one thing: No Placitas horse should go to slaughter.

The last straw for me is that a most famous and loved “white band” of 12 horses was abducted and taken by the Livestock Board with the intent of taking them to slaughter. A beautiful baby black foal died during the transport, and the famous white stallion, documented by David Cramer in his photograph “Expectant,” which shows the stallion tenderly comforting the white mare shortly before the mare gave birth, was gelded in preparation for slaughter even before being sent to the auction.

I hold all the people who are causing these atrocities accountable. They are not only taking away an important part of one’s daily life in Placitas, they are stealing from the next generations.

Betty J. Pritchard