Bail Revoked over ‘Bizarre’ Slaughter of Miniature Horses

Source: abc.net.au

Australian builder who used a butcher’s knife to kill six miniature horses in South Australia as revenge on clients who owed him money has had his bail revoked.

Michael O'Connell (L) has been taken into custody over the killings of six miniature horses.

Michael O’Connell (L) has been taken into custody over the killings of six miniature horses.

Michael Martin John O’Connell, 50, who owns Middleton Developments south of Adelaide, was taken into custody ahead of sentencing next month.

Clients Melvyn and Julie Jackson owed O’Connell a $37,000 final payment for about $200,000 worth of renovations carried out by his company.

Prosecutor Peter Cannell said after getting drunk at a Christmas party last year for his employees and subcontractors, O’Connell drove about an hour to the Jacksons’ horse stud at Clayton Bay and slit the throats of six miniature horses.

“The accused has entered through a locked gate … and then proceeded to one by one cut the throats of those six miniature horses,” Mr Cannell said.

“The horses were discovered deceased the following day by an employee.

“His intention was to make the victim Julie Jackson pay … get the victim somewhere where it would hurt.”

O’Connell later disposed of the butcher’s knife and blood-stained seat covers from his car at sea.

The court heard O’Connell made frank admissions about his actions when police spoke to him about the crime a week later.

A civil damages settlement had since been reached between O’Connell and the Jackson family worth about $60,000.

Ms Jackson read a victim impact statement in court, in which she said the “blood-fuelled massacre” had sent her family’s life into turmoil.

“I have lost more than six miniature horses, I have lost myself,” Ms Jackson said.

“I wish everyday for a different outcome for my babies.

“How could anyone expect a house renovation to result in the death of six horses.

“How could a builder plot and plan such a callous attack and carry it out?

“This has not just tortured me, it has tortured my family.

“My life is forever impacted and my heart forever broken.”

Mr Jackson told the court when he arrived at the stables he was confronted by blood-splattered walls.

“It was a scene that filled me with horror and heartbreak,” Mr Jackson said.

“They were part of our family in the same way that our children are.

“They can never be replaced. We have not used those stables since that night.”

Court heard O’Connell snapped

Surviving PonyO’Connell’s lawyer Nick Healy said his client had since lost about $2 million worth of contracts and was horrified by his actions.

“He simply snapped and he and the victim have been paying for this ever since,” Mr Healy said.

“At no time did my client try to excuse his conduct.”

Mr Healy described the married father of four as a respected member of the local community whose actions were bizarre.

He said at the time of the crime he had building contracts worth about $4 million.

He said about half of his staff had also left and a custodial sentence would see his business collapse.

But Judge Paul Cuthbertson questioned whether it was already too late for O’Connell’s business.

“I would have thought his business is gone already, who would want to deal with him?” Judge Cuthbertson said.

O’Connell pleaded guilty to aggravated serious criminal trespass, which carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail.

He also admitted to property damage for killing the horses, which attracts a term of up to 10 years.

O’Connell’s lawyer urged the judge to suspend any prison sentence.

But the prosecution called for a custodial sentence because of the seriousness of the offending.

ADVOCATES ASK FEDERAL COURT TO DISMISS UTAH RANCHERS’ ANTI-MUSTANG LAWSUIT

“Their lawsuit is an attempt to elevate ranchers’ private interests in grazing livestock on public lands above the public’s interest in preserving wild horses and the government’s mandatory duty to protect them.”

Last month's destruction of Wyoming's Adobe Town herd by the BLM ~ photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Last month’s destruction of Wyoming’s Adobe Town herd by the BLM ~ photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

SALT LAKE CITY, UT (October 22, 2014)…. Today, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom, Utah photographer John Steele and wild horse advocate and adopter Lisa Friday filed a motion requesting the federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Western Rangeland Conservation Association and Utah ranchers against the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the U.S. District Court in Utah. In August, the court granted the advocates’ motion to intervene in the lawsuit, which seeks to compel the government to remove wild horses from public and private lands.

“This lawsuit was filed by livestock owners that view wild horses as competition for below-market, taxpayer-subsidized grazing on public lands,” said Caitlin Zittkowski, attorney for Meyer, Glitzenstein and Crystal, the firm representing the advocates. “Their lawsuit is an attempt to elevate ranchers’ private interests in grazing livestock on public lands above the public’s interest in preserving wild horses and the government’s mandatory duty to protect them.”

“The ranchers’ lawsuit lacks legal merit, and we are asking the court to reject its claims without delay,” Zittkowski concluded.

The case was filed by ranchers who graze livestock on public lands in southwestern Utah. It seeks removal of hundreds of wild horses from the Frisco, Four Mile, Bible Springs, Sulphur, Muddy Creek, and North Hills Herd Management Areas (HMAs) and the Blawn Wash Herd Are (HA). In response, the government has informed the court that wild horses are not damaging rangelands in this area and that it has made no determination that “excess” wild horses exist in the HMAs and HA in question.

The lawsuit is part of a broader push from anti-wild horse private, commercial ranching interests to compel the BLM to remove an increasing number of wild horses from public lands and sell captured wild horses for slaughter. Ranchers in Nevada and Wyoming have also recently sued the BLM, and the agency has a history of quickly capitulating to their demands, regardless of the legal merits of the cases. In Wyoming, the government just completed a massive roundup of more than 1,200 wild horses as part of a settlement of a lawsuit that the Interior Department itself invited ranchers to file against the agency.

In Utah, under pressure from ranchers, the BLM rounded up 173 wild horses from the Blawn Wash HA in July. Utah ranchers put forward the false claim that wild horses are overpopulating the range, despite the fact that livestock graze on 22 million acres of land in the state, while wild horses are restricted to just 2.1 million acres. There are fewer than 4,000 wild horses on BLM land in Utah, compared to hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep.

National opinion polls indicate that 72 percent of the public supports protecting wild horses on public lands, while just 29 percent wants public lands used for livestock grazing.

Plan to lease Santa Fe National Forest for oil and gas drilling risks community health and cultural resources

SOURCE: enewspf.com

Litigation Prepared to Challenge Illegal 20,000 Acre Public Lands Lease

Santa Fe, NM—(ENEWSPF)—October 20, 2014. A broad coalition of local and national conservation groups announced plans to sue the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”), if the agency proceeds with the sale of 13 parcels (almost 20,000 acres of public lands) in the Santa Fe National Forest for oil and gas fracking. BLM received more than a hundred letters protesting the sale and challenging the agency’s failure to consider potentially serious impacts to the area’s air, water, wildlife, and surrounding communities.

The leases would allow horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) of the Santa Fe National Forest, a prospect that BLM has never studied. In fact, BLM has admitted that its current resource management plan governing drilling activities, finalized in 2003, is outdated and no longer able serve this essential function.

“In a rush to satisfy the demands of the oil and gas industry, BLM is ignoring its fundamental legal obligations and circumventing the underlying oil and gas drilling planning process,” said Kyle Tisdel, attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. “There is broad commitment from groups to go to court if necessary to ensure our treasured landscapes are not destroyed.”

“BLM has already leased 94% of our public lands around the Farmington area for oil and gas drilling,” said Mike Eisenfeld, New Mexico Energy Coordinator for San Juan Citizens Alliance. “This new lease sale on the Santa Fe National Forest would continue this reckless, lease-everywhere mentality that destroys recreation, wildlife, and cultural resources and ignores BLM’s responsibilities to honestly analyze impacts.”

“Oil and gas drilling these days is significantly different than that of only 11 years ago,” said Pete Dronkers, Southwest Circuit Rider for Earthworks.  “The wells are bigger, go deeper and for miles in every direction. They release far more hazardous waste into the air and water.  BLM has to study these newer impacts before it permits further drilling in the San Juan Basin.”

The lease sale is scheduled for 9:00 a.m., on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at the BLM New Mexico State Office in Santa Fe.

The coalition of conservation groups is represented by Western Environmental Law Center, and includes: Amigos Bravos, Chaco Alliance, Earthworks, Rio Arriba Concerned Citizens, San Juan Citizens Alliance, and WildEarth Guardians.

One Happy Ending in Adobe Town

by Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation
I had the best news today.
On Friday I got an email from Terry Fitch, Co-Founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.  Someone had written to the WHFF tip section of the website.  It was Brad Langley, working south of Rock Springs in Wyoming’s Red Desert.  He had found an orphan foal, with no horses around for miles and nowhere in sight, and he did not know who to call or what to do.  He said that the foal ran after his truck.  He gave directions and GPS coordinates, and the foal was near the Eversole Ranch, where the harrowing last days of the Salt Wells Creek and Adobe Town roundup took place.  I  immediately emailed him that he needed to contact Jay D’Ewart, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, and gave him Jay’s cell phone number so he would have the best chance of catching him immediately.  We did not know how long the foal could hold out without its mother.

FullSizeRender

(Before – all alone)

I thought on Saturday all was well until I received another email from Brad, that the number was disconnected.  Of course BLM offices are closed on the weekend but I emailed and called the office number for Jay, and tried texting him.  The text seemed to go through so I reported back to Terry and Brad that I would let them know if I heard anything, and they said the same.  Brad had gone into the same area with his wife that day trying to find the foal again, with no luck, and sent directions again.

I really was thinking that it was unlikely that the foal would make it through the weekend, but to my utter delight I got a message from Jay D’Ewart this afternoon. Apparently wranglers went out on horseback Friday to find the foal with no luck, but on Saturday, Marvin, who works in the oil and gas fields found the foal and took him home.

FullSizeRender (2)

(Foal napping)

Apparently he and his wife Tiffaney have filed papers at Rock Springs BLM to foster the foal, and he spent the weekend in their subdivision – he seems quite at home there!  He has been drinking milk replacer right out of a bucket, and the vet said he was 1 month old.  They will be moving him to a new corral soon, and are thinking of a name.  They said he will have a very good home.

IMG_0334

(Foal in the kitchen)

It is wonderful to hear about a happy ending for one of the Adobe Town horses in the aftermath of the roundup.

Therapy Horses a Calming Influence on Veterans

By Brian MacQuarrie | Globe Staff

In Norfolk, female veterans find strength through learning to ride and care for horses

Veteran Eadyie Davis of Marlborough shared a quiet moment with therapy horse Creek. ~ Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

Veteran Eadyie Davis of Marlborough shared a quiet moment with therapy horse Creek. ~ Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

NORFOLK — Feet in the stirrups, hands on the reins, Karen Souza closes her eyes as a quarter horse named Rio carries her to a tranquil, peaceful place she has rarely visited.

Souza spent decades walled off emotionally after being sexually abused as a teenage soldier. She never formed a loving relationship, and she spoke only sparingly. But from that dark, bleak world, she has emerged to find a place of trust, and accomplishment, and the simple joy of working with a large, strong, patient animal.

Souza is one of several female veterans who exhale and relax once a week at the BINA Farm Center, where they learn basic horsemanship and riding skills in a hands-on form of therapy. All of them are dealing with physical or emotional challenges.

But little by little, through grooming a horse or sitting in a saddle, anxiety and doubt are being replaced by laughter and confidence.

On this morning, 30 miles southwest of Boston, the veterans have been asked to shut their eyes and enjoy the slow, coordinated movement of their horses. It’s a simple request, but one that needs more than a little courage from women who often have felt vulnerable and abandoned.

“Every time I come here, this flood of emotions comes over me,” says Souza, 52, who lives in Worcester in transitional housing for female veterans. “I just feel cleansed, and you take that feeling with you. It doesn’t go away.”

As more veterans cope with long-term disabilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder, public awareness about the problems and therapies to treat them has increased. Veterans programs such as the one at BINA Farm have surfaced in Massachusetts and elsewhere in recent years, following a long-held recognition that working with horses has therapeutic benefits for people with special needs.

“I want them to leave with skills and tools they can take out to the world,” says Eileen Polasky, program director at BINA Farm Center, a Natick-based nonprofit, with facilities in Norfolk and Wellesley. “For a lot of people, the horses are a way in.”

The women gain a sense of responsibility that comes from caring for a horse, even for 90 minutes a week. There is a search for the gumption to try something new, perhaps after many years of extreme withdrawal. And there is a sense of growing self-esteem for women who sometimes feel branded as failures.

“There was a time when I wasn’t talking because I didn’t think that anyone would get it,” says Eadyie Davis of Marlborough, a 47-year-old Air Force veteran who suffered a traumatic brain injury in an accident during her military service. “Horses offer empathy, trust, compassion, and stillness.”

Now, seven sessions into the eight-week program, Davis is talking — a lot. She tests whether visitors know how many bones are in a horse, and how long horses sleep. “Did you know they’re afraid of us?” Davis asks.

Any fear on Davis’s part is not apparent. She pets Creek, helps adjust his bridle and halter, and chirps softly and soothingly to the palomino before nestling into the saddle. As Creek is led around the dirt floor by Pat Sheets, a volunteer from Roslindale, Davis is beaming…(CONTINUED)

Witch’s Brew for Equine Advocates

“Many thanks to Grandma Gregg for sharing this ‘Feel Good Sunday’ piece which sparks several latent memories, for me, from days gone by.  I think I have prepared just such a dish, on several occasions, but consuming copious amounts of Wrangler Iced Tea during it’s preparations has impaired my ability to recall if it really tasted as good as is alluded to, here.  I HATE when that happens!  Keep the faith, my friends” ~ R.T.


Witches brewThis recipe is not original but a variation on an old (perhaps ancient) Southwestern dish. It has also been a favorite of mine and was for many years the staple, the sole staple, of my personal nutritional program. (I am six feet three and weigh 190 pounds, sober.)

I call it Hardcase Survival Pinto Bean Sludge.

1. Take one fifty-pound sack Colorado pinto beans. Remove stones, cockleburs, horseshit, ants, lizards, etc. Wash in clear cold crick water. Soak for twenty-four hours in iron kettle or earthenware cooking pot. (DO NOT USE TEFLON, ALUMINUM OR PYREX CONTAINER. THIS WARNING CANNOT BE OVERSTRESSED.)

2. Place kettle or pot with entire fifty lbs. of pinto beans on low fire and simmer for twenty-four hours. (DO NOT POUR OFF WATER IN WHICH BEANS HAVE BEEN IMMERSED. THIS IS IMPORTANT.) Fire must be of juniper, pinyon pine, mesquite or ironwood; other fuels tend to modify the subtle flavor and delicate aroma of Pinto Bean Sludge.

3. DO NOT BOIL.

4. STIR VIGOROUSLY FROM TIME TO TIME WITH WOODEN SPOON OR IRON LADLE. (Do not disregard these instructions.)

5. After simmering on low fire for twenty-four hours, add one gallon green chile peppers. Stir vigorously. Add one quart natural (non-iodized) pure sea salt. Add black pepper. Stir some more and throw in additional flavoring materials, as desired, such as old bacon rinds, corncobs, salt pork, hog jowls, kidney stones, ham hocks, sowbelly, saddle blankets, jungle boots, worn-out tennis shoes, cinch straps, whatnot, use your own judgment. Simmer an additional twenty-four hours.

6. Now ladle as many servings as desired from pot but do not remove pot from fire. Allow to simmer continuously for hours, days or weeks if necessary, until all contents have been thoroughly consumed. Continue to stir vigorously, whenever in vicinity or whenever you think of it.

7. Serve Pinto Bean Sludge on large flat stones or on any convenient fairly level surface. Garnish liberally with parsley flakes. Slather generously with raw ketchup. Sprinkle with endive, anchovy crumbs and boiled cruets and eat hearty.

8. One potful Pinto Bean Sludge, as above specified, will feed one poet for two full weeks at a cost of about $11.45 at current prices. Annual costs less than $300.

9. The philosopher Pythagoras found flatulence incompatible with meditation and therefore urged his followers not to eat beans. I have found, however, that custom and thorough cooking will alleviate this problem.

Author Unknown

Biologists Criticize Science In BLM Plans To Help Sage Grouse

“Granted, this story is not about Wild Horses and Burros BUT it does speak to the BLM’s poor math, lack of science and inconstancy in properly managing any form of wildlife on our public lands.  It’s all the same and scientists are screaming at them to get their facts right, just as we have been doing for years.  Good read!” ~ R.T.

“Unfortunately, the protections vary a lot from plan to plan, and most of those are not based in science as they are cherry picking pieces of science to make things easy,”

Sage GrouseIn late 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide whether to list the Greater Sage Grouse as an endangered or threatened species.  In preparation for this decision, another federal agency, the Bureau of Land Management, is coordinating a set of plans aimed at protecting the bird and keeping it off the endangered species list.

A group of sage grouse scientists, however, say those plans lack sound science and fail to adequately protect the grouse.

In a Thursday conference call, Ken Rait, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts Western Lands Initiative, said that wildlife biologists believe “there is significant discrepancy between science and the plans.”

In a June letter sent to Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, a group of 15 wildlife scientists, 12 of them with doctoral degrees, outlined some of the problems they saw with the draft plans. (Final versions will be released in early 2015, so the BLM may still revise them.)

One problem with the plans, the scientists said, is that they lack consistency, “essentially creating 15 different management approaches to sage-grouse conservation within and across state boundaries.”

While some variations are necessary due to regional differences, the variability in the plans is not based in science, the biologists said. For example, one plan may require a certain buffer distances for oil and gas activity or surface disturbance from a priority conservation area or sage grouse breeding ground, and another plan would have a different requirement.

“Unfortunately, the protections vary a lot from plan to plan, and most of those are not based in science as they are cherry picking pieces of science to make things easy,” said Terry Riley, a wildlife biologist and director of conservation policy at the North American Grouse Partnership.

The other criticism the scientists laid out is that the conservation measures the BLM recommends are not supported by the best available science.

Matt Holloran, a principal and senior ecologist with Wyoming Wildlife Consultants, also criticized the BLM draft plans for failing to come up with a coordinated effort to manage invasive species like cheatgrass and medusahead, which, after wildfire, come in and take over important sagebrush habitat. In fact, in some of the plans, burning sagebrush was considered as a tool in wildlife managers toolboxes, which Holloran said was a bad idea.

“The science is pretty conclusive that fire should not be considered a management option,” he said…(CONTINUED)