Can wild horses co-exist with ranchers and their grazing cows?

Story by James McWilliams ~co-founder of The Daily Pitchfork ~ as published on The Pacific Standard

“Anytime a self-actualized journalist turns an inquisitive eye to the plight of our nation’s wild horses and burros it is time to celebrate as they are the ones who cannot speak for themselves.  But when editors, mostly unaware of the facts surrounding a story, cast a headline with skewed numbers/counts of said equine it instantly slants the story into the favor of the adversaries of the wild one before the first word of the article is ever read by John Q Public.  So is the case with the story below, written by animal journalist and co-founder of the Daily Pitchfork, James McWilliams.  James and Vickery Eckhoff have been champions for and of the truth regarding not only horse slaughter and the wild equines but animal agriculture in general.  We highly recommend the Daily Pitchfork and likewise ask you to read and visit the article below which features quotes from our own Debbie Coffey and a photo of our Carol Walker in the field documenting the disaster of mismanagement that goes by the name of BLM.  A very good read.” ~ R.T.

Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation at Palomino Valley

Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation at Palomino Valley

Twenty miles north of Reno, after casinos and strip malls yield to the high desert, the Bureau of Land Management holds 1,100 wild horses in a series of corrals. From the highway, the federal facility—the National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley—looks like a dusty feedlot, the kind of place you might smell before you see passing through some forlorn corner of Texas or Oklahoma.

But walk down the hill from Route 445 and stand alone among the pens as the sun rises in late July, and you’ll find that the place smells fine, sort of earthy and clean. Instead, what concentrates the mind is something altogether unexpected: silence. Somehow, amid 1,100 wild animals held in confinement, the only sound I hear is the wind whistling across the plastic lid of my coffee cup.

These horses and burros are a mere fraction of the roughly 45,000 kept in BLM holding facilities across the country. The primary reason they’re confined is the nearly 18,000 ranchers grazing an estimated 747,963 “animal units”—a bureaucratic term that can represent either a horse, a cow/calf pair, or five sheep—on 155 million acres of land. The horses might be silent, but lately these cattlemen have been quite loud indeed...(CONTINUED)

The Rest of the Story:

BLM moves to remedy shortcomings over 2014 Wyoming roundup

Source: HorseTalk, photography by Carol Walker, music by Opus Moon

“The court vindicated our concerns with BLM’s complete failure to analyze the impacts of this action on wild horses and the natural environment, as well as the agency’s failure to engage the public before pressing forward with this ill-advised decision.”

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has completed an environmental assessment as part of its moves to remedy shortcomings pinpointed by a judge over its 2014 roundup of nearly 1300 wild horses from Wyoming’s Checkerboard lands.

It has published a 41-page environmental assessment, together with a finding of No Significant Impact, for which it is now seeking public feedback. The BLM opened a 30-day comment period last Friday.

The documents were issued after horse advocates successfully challenged aspects of the roundup through the courts, with a judge ruling in March this year that the BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in its preparations for the Checkerboard muster.

A total of 1263 wild horses were permanently removed during the operation from public and private lands in the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas (HMAs).

The three HMAs total about 2,427,220 acres, with 1,242,176 acres falling within the Checkerboard region – so-named because of its alternating public and private land parcels.

US District Court of Wyoming Chief Judge Nancy Freudenthal issued an order stating that the BLM violated the environmental act when it conducted the operation in the southwest of the state. He remanded the violation back to the BLM to “remedy the deficiencies”…(CONTINUED)

Read more:

Major Defeat for Harry Reid on Searchlight Wind Energy Project


“The pattern is clear, projects like this which generate electricity that is far above the going market rate and supported by politicians like Sen. Reid, and constructed by their corporate cronies, and invested in by their supporters, all at the expense of taxpayers and rate payers for the benefit of the well-connected. Those who profit, donate to the politicians, who in turn funnel more government loans and subsidies to projects like the Searchlight Wind Energy development.”


File Photo: Wind Turbines

A court ruling last week might be the end of the line for a large wind energy project was slated to be constructed near Sen. Harry Reid’s home town of Searchlight, Nevada. The project may not be constructed, after being stopped by a federal court ruling last week, in which the court cited a flawed report by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding the project. The 87-turbine wind generating facility would have been built on 18,949 acres of federally owned land managed by the BLM near Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Searchlight. U.S. District Court Judge Miranda M. Du cited “unexplained inconsistencies” regarding the numbers of threatened species living on the land that would have used for the development, which was intended to be built by Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy.

Du’s ruling follow a three year legal battle between the developers of the project and local opposition from Friends of Searchlight Desert and Mountains, Basin and Range Watch and Las Vegas resident Judy Bundorf.

“This is a stupid place to try to build an industrial-scale energy facility,” said Dave Becker, an attorney who represented the plaintiffs, as reported by the Las Vegas Sun, who also said the victory shows the dilemma for environmentalists who support renewable energy projects but also realize in many instances the projects would be build on lands with sensitive habitats. Becker suggested that the BLM should choose sites for renewable energy that would have “big benefits and low impacts.”

This massive wind energy project was likely the result of Nevada Sen. Harry Reid and President Barack Obama working with corporate cronies to promote the development of more renewable energy projects. Last August, Sen. Reid joined President Barack Obama for the National Clean Energy Summit at the Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center in Las Vegas, where he proclaimed, “Solar isn’t just for the green crowd anymore,” speaking before lobbyists, investors and corporate executives involved in the renewable energy industry, “It’s for the green eyeshade crowd, too.”

The summit was sponsored by several “K Street firms, giant corporations and industry lobby groups” as the Timothy P. Carney reported, writing for American Enterprise Institute, and one of the key lobbying groups involved was Cassidy & Associates, a K Street firm with close ties to Sen. Reid, who donated $50,000 to Reid’s Senate Majority PAC.

“Cassidy lobbyist Rebecca Lambe was also treasurer of Reid’s Senate Majority PAC — the largest member-run super PAC in the 2014 election. Cassidy proudly touted Lambe’s connections to Reid, and her concurrent job at Reid’s SuperPAC,” Carney reported for

Carney pointed out that MGM Casinos was a major sponsor of the summit where President Obama was the keynote speaker, and that Kai Anderson, a former Chief of Staff for Sen. Reid, is a lobbyist for Cassidy, and lobbyist also for MGM Casinos.

The sponsors of the Las Vegas summit on renewable energy also included billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, who is one of a group of billionaire environmentalists who profit from and promote heavily government-subsidized renewable energy projects, as well as Elon Musk, the creator of the heavily subsidized Solar City company.

“You see what’s happening here: Elected officials accrue more control over tax dollars, businessmen come to the trough for the tax dollars, the politicians demand a cut in the form of campaign contributions, and the aides demand a cut in the form of lobbying contracts or other revolving-door gigs,” Carney writes for, “The insiders all win, the taxpayers and the politically unconnected companies lose. This is somehow considered acceptable because everyone shows up wearing green.”

The pattern is clear, projects like this which generate electricity that is far above the going market rate and supported by politicians like Sen. Reid, and constructed by their corporate cronies, and invested in by their supporters, all at the expense of taxpayers and rate payers for the benefit of the well-connected. Those who profit, donate to the politicians, who in turn funnel more government loans and subsidies to projects like the Searchlight Wind Energy development.

This pattern of corruption and cronyism is highlighted by the involvement of the Clean Energy Project (CEP), in promoting renewable energy projects, which received contributions in 2013 from Fulcrum Bioenergy. One of the nine corporate donors to CEP, Fulcrum received federal financing that was likely secured by Reid.


FL Congressman Demands Answers in Illegal Slaughter of 1,800 Horses

Dept. of Interior Ignored Federal Law, horses ended up in Mexican Slaughterhouse

stop_sign_horse_slaughterWASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, sent a letter on Nov 10th to the Secretary of the Interior demanding to know how 1,800 American horses ended up being butchered at a Mexican slaughterhouse in violation of federal law.

The slaughtered horses were under the care of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which failed in its duty to provide good homes and humane care to the animals, according to a report by the Inspector General for the Department of the Interior.

“It is unacceptable that BLM’s disregard of the law resulted in the use of taxpayer funds to facilitate the inhumane slaughter of iconic American wildlife,” said Buchanan.

The Inspector General’s report concluded that BLM allowed an individual livestock hauler to purchase 1,794 horses between 2008 and 2012.  Using intermediaries, he then sold the majority of these animals to slaughterhouses in Mexico for considerable profit.  It is illegal for BLM to be involved in any way in the slaughter of healthy horses, including the sale of horses to an individual who then sells the animals for slaughter.

In April 2015, Buchanan introduced the bipartisan SAFE Act (H.R. 1942), which permanently bans killing horses for human consumption in America.

Buchanan has long been a leader in the fight against animal cruelty and has been recognized by the Humane Society as a “Legislative Leader” for his work on animal welfare issues.

Full text of Buchanan’s letter below:

November 10, 2015

The Honorable Sally Jewell
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Jewell:

I am outraged to learn that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) illegally sold nearly 1,800 wild horses to a Colorado rancher who in turn sold them to Mexican slaughter plants at a great profit.  It is unacceptable that BLM’s disregard of the law resulted in the use of taxpayer funds to facilitate the inhumane slaughter of iconic American wildlife.

In a recent report, the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General (IG) found that BLM “did not follow current law” and “also failed to follow its own policy of limiting horse sales and ensuring that the horses sold went to good homes and were not slaughtered.”

The report states that BLM allowed an individual livestock hauler to purchase 1,794 horses between 2008 and 2012.  Using intermediaries, he then sold the majority of these animals to slaughterhouses in Mexico for considerable profit.  BLM received information that the hauler was sending his horses to slaughter, but neglected to thoroughly investigate these claims and continued selling animals to the hauler.

Selling wild horses for slaughter is a violation of law and the Bureau’s own policies.

BLM manages the U.S. wild horse population and is empowered to humanely destroy excess horses.  While BLM can sell excess horses to third parties in certain circumstances, the Bureau’s internal guidelines prohibit the sale to slaughterers by requiring buyers to provide good homes and humane care to the animals.

Moreover, during the period investigated by the IG, Congress prohibited BLM from spending funds “for the destruction of healthy, unadopted, wild horses and burros in the care of [BLM] or its contractors or for the sale of wild horses and burros that results in their destruction for processing into commercial products.”

Last year, more than 150,000 American horses were butchered in Canada and Mexico and then transported overseas for consumption in Japan, Italy and other countries.  Horsemeat can be toxic to humans and these animals can suffer incredible abuse even before arriving at the slaughterhouse.  During transportation, they are often confined without food and water in overcrowded trailers.  At the slaughterhouse, horses are further inhumanely treated, and are sometimes alive and kicking during dismemberment.

I am also troubled that, as part of this illegal sale, $140,000 of taxpayer money was used to transport horses to the buyer.  Moreover, the sale by BLM helped the buyer earn more than $150,000 in profits from selling the horses for slaughter.  These are funds that properly belong to the American public.

It is shocking that the employees who sold the animals to the hauler received bonuses for these sales.  It is even more disturbing that BLM continued to sell horses to the hauler even after they were given information that he was sending the horses to slaughter.  And it is a dereliction of duty that BLM did not attempt to verify the information they received.

BLM must be held accountable for breaking the law.

I respectfully request that the Department of the Interior provide my office with written answers to the following questions within 30 days:

  1. Please describe the discipline imposed upon BLM employees who facilitated these illegal transactions.  If these employees were not terminated, please state why the agency believes it is proper to continue to employ individuals who supported criminal activity.
  1. What steps are Interior and BLM taking to recover the $140,000 of taxpayer funds use to deliver horses to the hauler?
  1. Is Interior or BLM taking action to recover the hauler’s profits from the illegal slaughter of the horses?
  1. Is Interior or BLM taking action to recover bonuses paid to any employees who facilitated this crime?
  1. Does BLM receive reports that buyers of horses may be illegally selling horses for slaughter?  If so, why were reports ignored in the case described in the IG report?  Can you say with certainty that reports have not been ignored in any other potential cases?
  1. The IG report identifies Southwest Livestock LLC as a “kill buyer” that exported 12,000 horses per year to Mexico for slaughter after such activity was banned.  Please describe what actions, if any, you are taking to ensure that this company is not engaging in horse slaughter and is held accountable for its illegal activities.
  1. Please provide your understanding of why federal and state prosecutors failed to take action in the case described in the IG report.  In particular, please describe any interaction that employees of Interior or BLM had with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado or the State of Colorado Conejos County District Attorney’s Office with respect to the activities described in the IG report, noting the following:
  • Whether any employees testified under oath about these activities.
  • Whether any employees were offered incentives for their testimony, such as potential immunity or reduced charges.
  • Any family relationships that employees of Bureau of Land Management have with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado or the State of Colorado Conejos County District Attorney’s Office.

I look forward to your prompt response and thank you for your time and attention to this matter.



Vern Buchanan

Member of Congress

cc:  The Honorable Neil Kornze, Director, Bureau of Land Management

Please forward the above letter to YOUR Congressman and respectfully request a Congressional Investigation” – R.T.

Livestock Data Fills Gap in Ongoing Wild Horse Debate

SOURCE:  The Daily Pitchfork


Photography: Bryce Gray

BLM and USFS-reported grazing stats reveal the extent of private livestock production on millions of acres of overgrazed western public range and forest land, challenging rancher claims that wild horses and burros are to blame.

by Vickery Eckhoff

A side-by-side analysis of 2014 grazing data shows wild horses greatly outnumbered by millions of privately owned livestock across 251 million acres of western public grass and forest land.

The data includes 2014 year-end grazing receipts of $17.1 million published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the US Forest Service (USFS), a figure that equates to a livestock total of 2.1 million cattle. This is 37 times greater than the 56,656 free-roaming wild horses and burros estimated by both agencies in 2014.

Other BLM and USFS reported data show private livestock allocated 97 percent of the forage across all 251 million acres of BLM and USFS-managed lands. Wild horse and burros inhabit 12 percent of that land and are allocated 3 percent of forage overall.

Read the rest of the article, and find the link to read the fully footnoted analysis by the Daily Pitchfork HERE.


Nevada Politicians Skew Figures and Falsify Facts in Public Propaganda War Against Wild Horses and Burros

“Once again Western Special Interest Politicians are grasping numbers out of their backside where their heads reside most of the time. Without science, fact or evidence they spout out numbers and figures that paint a false representation of what is really going on upon our western public lands. It is Babel speak as usual with the horses and burros catching the flack for the damage to the land that is, instead, caused by tens of thousands of privately owned cattle and sheep. According to these false prophets only the horses eat and poop while the welfare cattle and sheep simply live on air alone…it’s all so very disgusting. Time to vote into office individuals who speak the truth, listen to the public and truly care about our public lands; do such politicians exist? We can only hope.” ~ R.T.

Story By Henry Brean
Las Vegas Review-Journal

“…birth control treatments, “humane euthanasia,” roundups, adoptions and other efforts to shrink herds…”

Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation photographing members of the Cold Creek Herd, Sept. 2012 ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation photographing members of the Cold Creek Herd, Sept. 2012 ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

Republicans in Congress want the Bureau of Land Management to answer for an “ineffective” strategy that has failed to halt the explosion of wild horse and burro populations both on the range and in captivity.

In a Nov. 4 letter to BLM director Neil Kornze, Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei from Nevada and 18 other lawmakers requested a detailed report on what the agency is doing now and what it plans to do in the future to bring horse populations under control.

According to the letter, current strategies “have been largely unsuccessful” across the West, leading to overcrowding in BLM herd management areas and holding facilities, poor herd health and damage to range land.

“Almost half of the 100,000 horses under the purview of the Bureau of Land Management are located in holding facilities off the range, and adoptions have fallen by almost 70 percent in the last 10 years,” the letter says.

The lawmakers are asking the BLM for details on birth control treatments, “humane euthanasia,” roundups, adoptions and other efforts to shrink herds to the agency’s own “appropriate management level” for the West, which calls for a total population of no more than 26,715 horses and burros across 10 states.

As of March 1, there were some 58,150 horses and burros living free on the range, more than half of them in Nevada, according to BLM estimates.

In addition to information on current efforts, Congressional Republicans want Kornze and company to produce four to six detailed plans, including timelines and cost estimates, to “effectively curb the overarching trend of overstocked” herd management areas.

BLM spokesman Craig Leff said the agency is still reviewing the inquiry from Congress and is “committed to improving the health of the horses and the land.”

Leff said the bureau is already working to put its horse and burro program “on a more cost-effective, sustainable track” consistent with the recommendations of a 2013 report by the National Academy of Sciences that determined wild horse and burro populations on federal land in the West were growing at a rate of 15 to 20 percent annually.

“As part of our long-term strategy, the BLM in partnership with universities and the U.S. Geological Survey is developing more effective fertility control methods,” Leff said in an email.

The agency is also “promoting public-private eco-sanctuaries or off-range pastures to hold excess wild horses removed from western public rangelands and working to boost adoptions by making more trained horses available to the public for adoption,” Leff said.

The GOP letter comes two months after the BLM removed more than 200 wild horses said to be on the verge of starvation in the Spring Mountains northwest of Las Vegas. At least 28 of those animals collected from around the tiny community of Cold Creek were later killed because they were deemed too far gone to save.

The BLM’s appropriate management level for the 102,000 acres surrounding Cold Creek is 66 adult horses. In May, the bureau counted about 470 horses in the area.

The BLM rounded up 250 horses from the same herd in 2007 and treated some of the remaining animals with birth control chemicals. One of those mares and her newborn foal were among the horses removed from the range in August.

Heller spokesman Michawn Rich said the federal government has a responsibility to address the wild horse issue, especially in Nevada, where almost 87 percent of the land is under federal control.

“Without proper and responsible management,” said Rich in an email, “these wild horses will continue to suffer and have a devastating impact on range land, sage-grouse habitat, and other agricultural and natural resources.”

Feel Good Sunday: You are the Light

by R.T. Fitch

R.T. Fitch at D.C. RallyI have spent a great deal of time, today, searching for good news in relation to wild horses, burros or just equines in general and let me tell you, the pickings are slim.

So I turned my eyes inward and have realized that I have been remiss in adding any input of my own and have slacked off in writing commentary when perhaps a quick poke in the ribs is due. For all of that, I apologize as the paying job has required more attention (way more attention) than I had foreseen but keep the faith, we are still alive and functioning.

With that said, I ran across a little slide show that I put together back in March of 2010 which documented the “March for Mustangs” protest held in Washington D.C. with contains a multitude of photographs that make my eyes leak, big time. “Why” you ask…because the pictures are of YOU, or at the very least those who represent YOU, normal, stick in your throat, apple pie eating, tax paying Americans who traveled from all points of the country, at their own expense, to protest what was and is still going on with the BLM’s assault against our wild horses and burros. I can’t watch the video without being overwhelmed by your commitment, vigilance, courage and tenacity.

We are going to do it,;hate to keep baiting you but things are in the works to bring this management to extinction to a close. BUT we CANNOT do it without YOU. Each and every one of you plays an important role in your own unique and special way, so please, do not discount yourself.

Check out the ole video, recognize a few of us (I was fatter then), and then let us make NEW news for the wild horses and burros.  Keep the Faith.

Love you guys.



Ochoco National Forest Revamping Wild Horse Plan

By Dylan J. Darling / The Bulletin /

Current Big Summit herd guidelines have been in place since 1975

OchocoHorsesThe Ochoco National Forest is set to revise a 40-year-old management plan for a wild horse herd near Prineville and is looking for help from the public in the revision.

“We are basically going to redo the plan,” Tory Kurtz, rangeland management specialist for the national forest, said Tuesday.

Congress enacted the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act in 1971, and four years later, in 1975, the Ochoco National Forest established a 27,300-acre management area for the Big Summit herd of wild horses. The act protects wild horses in designated areas, which include the more than 42-square-mile Big Summit management area. The management plan for the Big Summit herd, also known as the Ochoco Mustangs, has not been updated since 1975.

Revising the plan is not related to the planned roundup of wild horses east of Lakeview in south-central Oregon. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management began preparations Monday for the roundup of more than 1,000 wild horses in the Beatys Butte herd, drawing criticism from wild horse advocacy groups.

The Big Summit herd is the only wild horse herd in Oregon and Washington solely managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The BLM manages most herds in Oregon.

In the middle of the Ochoco National Forest, just west of Big Summit Prairie, the Big Summit herd management area is predominantly wooded.

Each June, the national forest teams up with volunteers to count the wild horses. The count is conducted on foot or horseback because of the terrain.

This past June, the count showed about 150 wild horses, Kurtz said. While horses in the herd have been captured or adopted in the past, she said that hasn’t occurred since 2010 in part because of the aging management plan. The revised plan probably would detail how to conduct captures and adoptions.

In October 2013, six horses from the herd were found shot, five were dead and one was so badly wounded it was euthanized , all near Big Summit Prairie. The case remains open, according to Ochoco National Forest and Forest Service law enforcement officials.

National forest officials are inviting the public to join a stakeholder group, convened by the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, to develop plan recommendations. Starting in December, the group is set to meet monthly for at least two years, according to the national forest. Overhauling the plan is expected to take up to three years.

The current plan is outdated and does not address modern issues about wild horses, said Gayle Hunt, president of the Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition. She is glad the plan is set for an update.

“It’s way overdue,” she said. Established in 2002, the nonprofit aids in the management of wild horses in Central Oregon, particularly the Big Summit herd. Hunt said Ochoco National Forest officials have worked well with people advocating for wild horses.

Issues likely to be tackled in the revised plan include wild horse birth control and adoption programs, both aimed at keeping herd size in check. Kurtz said the current plan does not have a target number for the herd.

What will be in the new plan depends on the direction taken by the stakeholder group.

“We don’t really have anything set in stone,” Kurtz said.

Author Terri Farley on Wild Horse & Burro Radio, Wednesday night (10/28/15)


Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesday (*SM) , Oct. 28, 2015

7:00 pm PST … 8:00 pm MST … 9:00 pm CST … 10:00 pm EST

Listen to the archived show (HERE!)

or listen to the show live on your phone by calling (917) 388-4520.

You can call in with questions during the 2nd half hour of the show by dialing (917) 388-4520, then pressing 1.

This is a 1 hour show.  It will be archived so you can listen to it anytime.


Our guest tonight is best-selling author Terri Farley, who will be talking about her first non-fiction book, “Wild at Heart: Mustangs and the Young People Fighting to Save Them.”  Mustangs have thrived for thousands of generations.  Now they are under attack, but courageous young people are trying to stop the round-ups and senseless killings by standing up to government and big business to save these American icons.  Learn about cutting edge science and the young people leading the charge to keep horses wild and free.

“Anyone who cares about wild horses should read this book.  So should anyone who cares about how science is being abused to justify flawed management policies masquerading as ‘responsible conservation’.”  –  Dr. Ross MacPhee, Curator of Mammalogy/Vertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History


Pulitzer Prize winning freelance photographer Melissa Farlow, whose photographs are featured in Wild at Heart, has had work from 25 assignments and projects published in National Geographic, including a story about wild horses.

Terri Farley is the author of the Phantom Stallion series for young readers and Seven Tears into the Sea, a contemporary Celtic fantasy nominated as a YALSA best book.

Tonight’s show is hosted by Debbie Coffey, V.P. and Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

To contact us:, or call 320-281-0585

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