Letter to BLM’s Chief of Wild Horse & Burro Program & BLM’s failure to manage our wild herds on federal public lands

We are publicly posting this letter that Grandma Gregg sent to Joan Guilfoyle, Neil Kornze, Ed Roberson and Sally Spencer:

Joan Guilfoyle, Division Chief
Division of Wild Horses and Burros
20 M Street, S.E.
Washington, DC

I strongly oppose the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) plan to send 100 federally protected wild burros—at taxpayer expense—to Guatemala, where they would become working animals.  Once outside the U.S., the fates of the burros would be unknown – forever.

This idea flies in the face of the BLM’s legal mandate to care for and protect these cultural treasures here on U.S. soil.  It is not only cruel and a waste of resources—it also fails to address the ugly reality that led to this misguided schemethe BLM’s wholesale failure to manage our wild herds on federal public lands.

As for BLM’s Guatemala proposal:

First off,the Guatemalans will slaughter some (and eventually all) and I doubt they will give anyconcern about their slaughter methods but it won’t be humane.

Second, the burros are wild and although eventually could become pack animals with humane training and care, the typical and historically forceful methods to train equine that most people use in this and other countries is inhumane.

donkey-abuse

(photo:  http://www.abeatingheart.ca/the-numbing-and-dumbing-of-humanity/) *

Third, I can tell you that nobody is ever going to check on the welfare of these burros – ever.  As a BLM adopter of two wild horses, BLM never checked on them until finally after two years; and then only because I pestered them about getting my ownership papers. In addition, they never checked on the wild stallion I bought – never. If anyone thinks that anyone is going to check on those in Guatemala … think again.  And even IF someone tried … how could they find a hundred burros that had been dispersed throughout the country?  They could not.

Fourth, by agreeing that it is acceptable to send our wild burros to another country we are setting a precedent that allows these American wild icons to be disposed of to another country and that is an unscrupulous precedent – if not illegal.  They are to be protected per the United States Congress.

Fifth, our burros do not belong to BLM or the government – they belong to the people of America and BLM has no right to sell our burros overseas to an unknown future.  They are not a livestock commodity.

Sixth, the most important issue is to again articulate to our government (BLM) that there are no excess wild horses and burros on their legally designated land that was (per law) given to them principally for their protection.  To agree to anything less than what is really true and legal and correct is a betrayal to the wild horses and burros and the American people who own these wild equine.

With about 50,000 wild horses and burros stockpiled in BLM holding facilities, clearly the BLM’s wild equine program needs a complete overhaul.  Rather than continuing to round up and remove horses and burros to holding facilities while instituting no legitimate on-range management plan, the BLM must first realize and admit that there are no “excess” wild horses and burros on their congressionally designated legal land.

The recent National Academy of Science (NAS) report on the Wild Horse and Burro Program determined that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has no evidence of excess wild horses and burros; because the BLM has failed to use scientifically sound methods to estimate the populations (NAS, 2013).

The NAS cited two chief criticisms of the Wild Horse and Burro Program: unsubstantiated population estimates in herd management areas (HMA), and management decisions that are not based in science (NAS, 2013).  Shipping our protected equines off to other countries is the very opposite of proper management.

 

* The photo above may not have been taken in Guatemala, but illustrates the point of how equines are mistreated in other countries.

 

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.

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)

BLM Ely Nevada District to Round Up Wild Horses

Unedited Press Release from the BLM

Release Date: 10/16/14

BLM Ely District to Gather Wild Horses

Triple B Horses - BLM

Triple B Horses – BLM

ELY – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Ely District is scheduled in early November 2014 to begin gathering and removing approximately 120 excess wild horses from in and around the Triple B and Silver King Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in eastern Nevada.  Details will be posted on the district website at http://on.doi.gov/1lGnDYC as they become available. The helicopter gathers are necessary to prevent further damage to private property and provide for public and animal safety.

The District will remove about 70 excess wild horses from the Triple B HMA, located about 30 miles northwest of Ely, that are damaging private property, and harassing and breeding domestic stock resulting in landowner complaints.  Appropriate Management Level (AML) for the Triple B HMA is 215-250 wild horses.  The current population is 1,311 wild horses.

The District will remove up to 50 excess wild horses from in and around the Silver King HMA.  The horses to be gathered are located about 120 miles south of Ely.  They are a safety concern on U.S. Highway 93 and are damaging private property, resulting in property owner complaints.  AML for the Silver King HMA is 60-128 wild horses.  The current population is 452 wild horses.

BLM attempts to keep wild horses away from private property and the highway, including trapping and relocating animals to other portions of the HMAs, have been unsuccessful.

The BLM will utilize the services of gather contractor Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc., of Nephi, Utah, which uses a helicopter to locate and herd wild horses toward a set of corrals to be gathered.  The pilot is assisted by a ground crew and a domesticated horse that is trained to guide the horses into the corral.  The use of helicopters, which is authorized by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, has proven to be a safe, effective and practical means by which to gather excess wild horses with minimal anxiety or hardship on the animals.

Wild horses removed from the range will be transported to the National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley (PVC), in Reno, Nev., where they will be offered for adoption to qualified individuals.  Wild horses for which there is no adoption demand will be placed in long-term pastures where they will be humanely cared for and retain their “wild” status and protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.  The BLM does not sell or send any horses to slaughter.

A Wild Horse Gather Information Line has been established at (775) 861-6700.  A recorded message will provide information on daily gather activities and schedules.  The BLM will also post daily gather information on its website at: http://on.doi.gov/1lGnDYC.

Public lands within the HMAs will be open to the public during gather operations, subject to necessary safety restrictions, and the BLM will make every effort to allow for public viewing opportunities. The BLM has established protocols for visitors to ensure the safety of the horses, the public, and BLM and contract staff. The protocols are available at: http://on.doi.gov/1lGnDYC under Observation Opportunities.

Gather activities in and outside the Triple B HMA were analyzed in the Triple B, Maverick-Medicine and Antelope Valley HMA Gather Plan and Environmental Assessment (EA), signed in May 2011 and available at http://on.doi.gov/1tgdHc6.  Gather activities in and around the Silver King HMA were analyzed in the Ely District Public Safety and Nuisance Gather EA signed in August 2014 and available at http://on.doi.gov/1lx856K.

For more information, contact Chris Hanefeld, BLM Ely District public affairs specialist, at (775) 289-1842 or chanefel@blm.gov.

Silver King Highway Nuisance Wild Horse Gather

Triple B Nuisance Wild Horse Gather

BLM offers tour of hidden wild horses at Indian Lakes Road facility in Fallon, NV

“The impact of stopping the tours pales in comparison to the impact to our employees and BLM’s image.” – Dean Bolstad (stated this in 2010, while he was the Deputy Division Chief of the Wild Horse and Burro Program)

As we’re all wondering when the BLM will give the public a tour of the Scott City, Kansas feedlot where wild horses (the ones that haven’t died yet) are being held, or a tour of any of the Long Term Holding pastures where the BLM conceals wild horses from access by the American public, the BLM feigns an annual sham of transparency by sticking the public on wagons and zipping them past wild horses on contractor Troy Adam’s Indian Lakes Road Holding facility.

We’ve written a lot about the Indian Lakes Road facility, including the real reason it was closed to the public in “BLM ‘News Release’ Fraud,” and about Troy Adam’s contract with the BLM in “The BLM’s Sweet Deal.”   – Debbie Coffey

BLM offers tour of Nevada wild horse & burro facility

SOURCE:  the horse.com

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is offering a public tour of the Indian Lakes Road Short-Term Holding Facility in Fallon, Nevada, on Friday, Oct. 17. The facility is one of three locations in Nevada that provides care to wild horses and burros removed from the range.

The BLM will offer two tours, each lasting approximately two hours and able to accommodate 20 people. The first tour will begin at 10:30 a.m. and the second tour will begin at 1:30 p.m. PDT. Spaces will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. The public can sign up to attend and get driving directions to the facility by calling the BLM at 775/475-2222.

About a 90 minute drive east of Reno, the Indian Lakes Road Short-Term Holding Facility is located at 5676 Indian Lakes Road, Fallon, and is privately owned and operated. Tour attendees will be taken around the facility as a group on a wagon to learn about the facility, the animals, and the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.

The Indian Lakes Road corral facility can provide care for up to 2,850 wild horses or burros. The facility encompasses 320 acres containing 36 large holding pens, each pen measuring 70,000 square feet and with a capacity to safely hold approximately 100 horses. The horses receive feed tailored to their needs each day, along with a constant supply of fresh water through automatic watering troughs. Free choice mineral block supplements are also provided to the animals in each pen. A veterinarian routinely inspects the horses and provides necessary medical care as needed.

The BLM strives to place horses removed from the range into good, private homes. Horses at the Indian Lakes Road facility are made available to the public for adoption or sale throughout the year at off-site adoption events and through the BLM’s adoption or sales program. Horses will not be available for adoption during the public tour; however, if there is interest in an animal viewed during the tour, the BLM could make arrangements for adoption at a later time.

More information about the Indian Lakes Road facility and the public tours can be found at www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/prog/wh_b/Indian_Lakes_Facility.html.

Horseback Protest Targets BLM, but Environmentalists Say Whoa

as published in the LA Times

“The sneering whine of self-serving profiteering is heard across the plains as a band of welfare ranchers plods along a trail to D.C. to protest an attempt to save the public land on which their private cattle graze at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.  Please excuse me for feeling no sympathy as I think of all the native wild horses that had been pulled from the same land while we shouted, ‘What about the damn cows?!?!’  The time to reconsider the practice of private individuals profiting from exploiting public lands is long over due.” ~ R.T.


Environmentalists defend BLM order to remove livestock on public lands in Nevada amid drought”

Photo: WWP. Grazing damage from welfare ranching on the Argenta allotment, July 2014.

They’re a dozen men and women riding horseback on a modern-day cross-country cattle drive, but with fistfuls of petitions instead of a herd of steers. Their wide-brimmed hats tipped low against the sun’s glare, they’re riding from Bodega Bay, Calif., to Washington.

They call themselves the “Grass March Cowboy Express” and they want the Bureau of Land Management to remove “an abusive federal employee” and “end BLM tyranny.”

The group contends that Doug Furtado, manager of the bureau’s Battle Mountain District, has unfairly blocked their legal right to graze their cattle on public land in central Nevada.

But environmentalists have lashed out at protesters as a selfish, entitled group with no business running private cattle on public lands, especially during years of prolonged drought.

Six months after Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s well-publicized face-off with bureau officials over grazing rights on public lands north of Las Vegas, tension still exists between many cattlemen and the federal government.

Bundy in April attracted an army of self-proclaimed citizen militia members, many of them with semiautomatic weapons, who challenged officials who had moved in to remove hundreds of cattle from federally administered land. The bureau later called off the roundup, but federal officials promise that Bundy could be held accountable in the courts for more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees.

Organizers of the Cowboy Express, which started in Bodega Bay in Northern California on Sept. 26, say they have no connection to Bundy. They just want the Bureau of Land Management off their backs.

But in a message to supporters, one nonprofit criticized the riders for singling out Furtado because he had “the temerity to order drought-induced reductions in commercial grazing.”

The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility also mocked the protesters for their use of the hard-bitten cowboy image often seen in cigarette commercials.

“The Marlboro Man evoked iconic cowboy imagery to sell cancer sticks,” it said in a news release. The “stunt called the ‘Cowboy Express’ also seeks to harness this romantic image to mask deeply selfish and destructive ends.”…(CONTINUED)

Environmental Groups Eye Idaho BLM Sage Grouse Ruling

By Keith Ridler as published in the Reno Gazette-Journal

“Ruling could give leverage to Wild Horse & Burro Advocacy”

Greater Sage GrouseBOISE — A small portion of a federal judge’s ruling in Idaho against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management concerning grazing permits in sage grouse habitat is being eyed as a potential lever by environmental groups considering similar lawsuits in other states.

Most of U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill’s 21-page decision late last month involved his ruling that the agency violated environmental laws in issuing permits on four grazing allotments in south-central Idaho, considered test cases for about 600 other permits.

But he used three pages near the end of his decision to rule on a separate matter that the agency incorrectly used a congressional budget rider to issue additional grazing permits in south-central Idaho with no environmental analysis at all.

“This is a clear shot across the bow of the BLM,” said Todd Tucci, an attorney for Advocates for the West that represented Western Watersheds Project in the lawsuit. “I will bring this argument to any federal court in the country and feel very comfortable about my likelihood of success.”

Ken Cole of Western Watersheds Project said the BLM has used the rider to issue hundreds of grazing permits across the West. Winmill’s decision only pertains to Idaho, but conservation groups in other states are viewing the winning lawsuit as a possible template.

“This is a legal victory that is certainly going to get a lot of scrutiny from environmental groups moving forward,” said Erik Molvar of WildEarth Guardians….(CONTINUED)

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