BLM uses any excuse to fast track the roundups of wild horses and burros

The BLM uses a lame excuse to round up more wild horses near a remote highway.  BLM should re-locate the wild horses farther from the highway on this 280,000 acre HMA (see map HERE), or to another HMA.  Instead, the BLM seems to be exceeding its authority by removing the wild horses PERMANENTLY from public lands.  The BLM auctioned off older mares captured last summer from Sulphur, Utah, to someone in Oregon for $25 with free delivery to misc. sites – including some VERY questionable locations that have been known to have kill-buyers lurking. ” – Debbie

SOURCE:  The Salt Lake Tribune

BLM to round up wild horses near remote Utah highway


Bureau of Land Management wranglers will return to Utah’s West Desert in February to remove dozens of wild horses congregating along a remote highway.

Federal land managers say the horses are a danger to themselves and motorists.

Suspected collisions killed three horses found dead along State Road 21 last winter, according to Chad Hunter, a range and wild-horse specialists in BLM’s Cedar City office.

“We were able to remove 30 head last summer. There were additional horses in the area that we tried to move away. They have moved back in,” Hunter said. “We have excess numbers and they are looking for space.”

The agency is fast-tracking an environmental review of the roundup, which is connected with a multiphase project to pull hundreds of horses from Utah’s Sulphur Herd Management Area, a 280,000-acre block straddling Millard and Beaver counties.

Last week, the BLM initiated an Environmental Analysis of a proposal to reduce the herd’s numbers to between 165 and 250 horses. This year’s estimate for the herd is 718, Hunter said, and that doesn’t include this year’s foals.

Wild horses are a contentious issue in Utah’s West Desert and Nevada, where ranchers and county commissioners complain the BLM is allowing horses to overrun the range, which leaves less forage available for cattle.

Animal-welfare advocates allege that cows, which far outnumber horses, are degrading the range. The BLM needs to allow wild horses room to roam rather than continually rounding them up for long-term storage at enormous public expense, advocates say.

In the middle of this struggle is the BLM, which is under pressure from the state to remove horses. Land managers hope contraception can become a more prominent tool in the agency’s wild horse and burro program, which has relied heavily on controversial helicopter gathers.

The BLM tries to adopt out horses, but most spend the rest of their lives in corals. Some mares are returned to the range after they are given a contraceptive.

The agency soon will be accepting public comment on its proposal to pare down the Sulphur herd, which was the subject of a roundup in 2010.

“This is a 10-year plan to get the herd to the appropriate management level as we get funding, and it includes fertility control,” Hunter said.

But the removal of some 100 horses along State Road 21, a narrow strip of highway connecting Milford and Garrison, cannot wait. The February roundup will target a lonely 10-mile stretch in Millard County just west of the Desert Range Experimental Station, where the Pine and Snake valleys meet. The area is just outside the northern margin of the Sulphur HMA.

After Wyoming, Nevada is next to eradicate wild horses from checkerboard areas


Instead of removing wild horses, BLM should end all livestock GRAZING ALLOTMENTS on PUBLIC LANDS. 

And, there is NO “OVERPOPULATION” of wild horses!

BLM attacking wild horses in Nevada ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

BLM attacking wild horses in Nevada ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation


SOURCE:  Elko Daily Free Press

Federal agency announces 2015 wild horse roundups

ELKO – The Bureau of Land Management announced it will remove wild horses early next year that have roamed into checkerboard land in areas of the Elko District that aren’t designated for horse management.

A similar roundup to remove horses from checkerboard land is planned in the Winnemucca District.

In addition, the BLM has scheduled to gather about 1,000 horses in the Pine Nut Mountain, Fish Creek and Little Fish Lake herd management areas on the Carson City and Battle Mountain districts and treat about 225 to 250 mares with fertility control vaccine.

“The gathers announced today are part of BLM’s efforts to reduce overpopulation of wild horses on our public lands through the use of fertility control and selective removals,” Joan Guilfoyle, division chief of the national Wild Horse and Burrow Program, said in a statement.

About 460 excess horses will be removed.

“The welfare of wild horses is always a top priority for the BLM and we remain committed to providing humane care and treatment as we and our contractors conduct gather operations in Nevada,” Guilfoyle continued.

The late-January timeframe is intended to maximize the effectiveness of the fertility vaccine Porcine Zona Pellucidae, which can help slow herd growth rates and extend the time until another gather is needed, according to BLM.

The Winnemucca District said about 160 horses will be gathered over a three-day period from the area comprised of more than 431,000 acres of private and public land.

“In the summer of 2014, BLM Winnemucca removed 101 wild horses in this area by a bati/water trap operation,” Jim Schroeder, field manager for the district, said in a statement. “Starting in late Januaray 2015 we will be removing the remainder of the wild horses from the (herd area).”

Removing the excess wild horses will help prevent further deterioration of range and water resources, according to the BLM, as well as reduce vehicle-versus-horse accidents on roads and damage to private property.

The contractor for the gather is Cattoor Livestock of Nephi, Utah.

The horses will be transported to the Palomino Valley Center near Reno, or Burns, Oregon for preparation for adoption.

Revealed: How Big Oil Got Expedited Permitting for Fracking on Public Lands Into the Defense Bill

Special interests are getting more than a fair share of the pie of public lands and water use, while the wild horses and burros are getting the short end of the stick.  Below is a detailed article that shows what we’re up against.


by Steve Horn

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 4.12.03 PM Photo Credit: C-SPAN Screenshot

The U.S. Senate has voted 89-11 to approve the Defense Authorization Act of 2015, following the December 4 U.S.House of Representatives’ 300-119 up-vote and now awaits President Barack Obama’s signature.

The 1,616-page piece of pork barrel legislation contains a provision — among other controversial measures — to streamline permitting for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) on U.S. public lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a unit of the U.S. Department of Interior.

Buried on page 1,156 of the bill as Section 3021 and subtitled “Bureau of Land Management Permit Processing,” the bill’s passage has won praise from both the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and comes on the heels of countries from around the world coming to a preliminary deal at the United Nations climate summit in Lima, Peru, to cap greenhouse gas emissions.

“We applaud the Senate…and are hopeful the president signs this measure in a timely fashion,” said Dan Naatz, IPAA lobbyist and former congressional staffer, in a press release.

Alluding to the bottoming out of the global price of oil, Naatz further stated, “In these uncertain times of price volatility, it’s encouraging for America’s job creators to have regulatory certainty through a streamlined permitting process.”

Streamlined permitting means faster turn-around times for the industry’s application process to drill on public lands, bringing with it all of the air,groundwater and climate change issues that encompass the shale production process.

At the bottom of the same press release, IPAA boasted of its ability to get the legislative proposal introduced initially by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) as the BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act of 2014 after holding an “educational meeting” with Udall’s staffers. Endorsed by some major U.S.environmental groups, Udall took more than $191,000 from the oil and gas industry during his successful 2014 re-election campaign.

IPAA‘s publicly admitted influence-peddling efforts are but the tip of the iceberg for how Big Oil managed to stuff expedited permitting for fracking on U.S.public lands into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015.

IPAA, API Lobbying Blitz

According to Open Secrets, IPAA, API, ExxonMobilAmerica’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), ConocoPhillips and private equity firm KKR — employer of former head of the CIA David Petraeus — all deployed lobbyists to ensure passage of the BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act, now Section 3021 in the NDAA of 2015.

In quarter two and three, KKR deployed Akin Gump’s Ryan Thompson, chief-of-staff for climate change denier U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OKbetween 2002-2010, to lobby for the bill.  A self-described ”mini oil and gas company,” the New York City-headquartered KKR owns numerous oil and gas assets in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin.

Warren Buffett‘s Berkshire Hathaway Energy, formerly known as MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company and owned by his holding company Berkshire Hathaway, also lobbied for the bill.  Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), owned by Berkshire Hathaway, is a major carrier of Bakken crude-by-rail.

Pilot Project Lifts Off

One of the original Senate-side co-sponsors of the BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act was U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), who has also also served as a ringleader of other efforts to expedite permitting for fracking on public lands.  First elected to the Senate in 2010, before which he was the Governor of North Dakota, the oil and gas industry has given Hoeven close to $325,000 in contributions since his preliminary Senate run.

In 2013, a bill he sponsored — the BLM Streamlining Act — passed by Congress with only one dissenting vote between both chambers combined. It was signed into law by President Obama on the day after Christmas.

That Streamlining Act created a pilot project for expedited permitting of fracking on public lands in the Bakken Shale. It was lobbied for by ExxonMobil,KKR, Marathon Oil, Chesapeake Energy and IPAA, among others.

By comparison, the BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act of 2014 and now its equivalent Section 3021 in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, expedites permitting of fracking on all public lands.

NDAA 2015 Fracking Public Lands

Image Credit: U.S. Government Printing Office

Hoeven had previously attempted to pass a bill to streamline fracking permitting on BLM public lands and “recognize the primacy of States,” calling it the Empower States Act of 2013.  That bill was lobbied for by both ExxonMobil and API.

White House Help: Heather Zichal

The Obama White House has also long shown interest in the expedited permitting approach for fracking, portending a likely looming sign-off on the bill.

Beyond signing the BLM Streamlining Act into law on December 26, 2013, President Obama also authorized Executive Orders in March 2012 and May 2013 calling on streamlined permitting of all energy infrastructure projects.

During her time as Obama White House top energy and climate aide, Heather Zichal — now on the Board of Directors for fracked gas exporting company Cheniere — oversaw the signing of an April 2012 Executive Order mandating creation of an interagency working group to streamline regulatory oversight for fracking in the U.S.

Heather Zichal; Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Zichal also laid the groundwork for lack of transparency on injection of fracking chemicals into the ground on U.S. public lands, bringing the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) approach for chemical transparency to the BLM.  Before inserting the provision into the BLM draft rules currently being finalized, Zichal “huddled” with the industry numerous times.

Zichal met more than 20 times in 2012 with industry groups and company executives lobbying on the proposed rule,” reported EnergyWire. “Among them were the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), along with BP America Inc., Devon Energy Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp.”

Protect Our Public Lands Act

Despite obvious extreme odds stacked against them, two members of the U.S.House Progressive Caucus — with the support of Food and Water Watch and several other progressive groups — have introduced a bill to ban fracking on U.S. public lands.

Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), the two-page Protect Our Public Lands Act ”prohibit[s] the lessee from conducting any activity under the lease for the purpose of hydraulic fracturing.”


U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky; Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“We owe it to our children and grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren, to ensure the protection of public lands,” said Schakowsky of her support for the legislation. “This bill — in banning fracking on those lands — helps us follow through on that important promise.”

But only one thing can really receive a promise in this case: public interest groups are in a David vs. Goliath fight. And Goliath, clearly, is well-organized and well-mobilized on the issue as 2014 comes to a close.


Wild Horses Leapt to Their Death—and Lived!

Just a reminder, as we read this personal account written in 2013, of what may be happening behind the scenes of BLM’s “bait-trapping” of wild horses, where the BLM contractors can still use a helicopter, but the BLM doesn’t let the public know when or where they are rounding up wild horses and burros, and without any public observation, there is ABSOLUTELY NO ACCOUNTABILITY for how many wild horses are actually rounded up or how they were handled. There is no transparency.  –  Debbie Coffey

“The guys from BLM were all cussing those horses and talking about the craziness of them.”

14CarolWalkerRoundup-62 (roundup photo by Carol Walker)


Wild Horses Leap to their Death – and Live!

By Johnny Rustywire

One spring a few years ago, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) set up a wild horse roundup in Eastern Utah. I was doing some title search work and found myself one morning riding out with the wranglers who would be catching and rounding up the horses for the BLM adoption program.

There has been much argument about the horses. Some people believe that these wild horses needed to be removed from the land because of overgrazing and inbreeding. Others believe that they should stay where they are and run free. “I am not sure about the debate but I guess someone should ask the horses,” I heard one person say.

We headed to a place known as Moon Water Point, way out in the middle of nowhere with undulating hills that dropped into the valleys and canyons surrounding the Green River some 50 miles north of Green River, Utah on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.

Some of the wranglers were private contractors and some were employees of the BLM. The rest were from the Ute Tribe Fish & Game Department, easy to tell from the BLM guys because they were Indians. Everyone was anticipating the round up. I had heard that a helicopter was out early that morning gathering the horses. We had been on the road for about two and a half hours over a long windy dirt road when we got to Moon Water Point.

The wranglers’ trucks and trailers were off the hill out of sight. We parked there in the brush and walked up the hill to the top of the bench. On top there was a brush line, set up in a V, to funnel the horses into a makeshift corral that had three sides dropping off the bench like a cliff dropping off steeply and the brush hid a portable fence set up to hold the horses.

The guys had been there for a few days gathering the horses and were set to catch them. The Ute cowboys were a hardy stock, rough and ready. I have heard they pride themselves as horsemen, those Utes. I did not hear anyone say it, but they seemed to know the animals and this area was Ute land.

Some of the Utes did not agree with the roundup of the horses. These were the last remaining part of the herd that represented their former life as the People of the Shining Mountains who were born on horses and roamed all over these lands from Denver to Salt Lake. I could sense their feeling but they were there to do a job.

Everyone mounted up and headed out, moving off the bench to the north and in the distance you could hear the herd of wild horses coming. You could see them off in the distance, kicking up the dust and running through the sagebrush in groups of two and three with others of four and five running alongside.

The horses usually travel and live in small groups to be able to forage the high and low areas for food. There were groups of 4- and 5-year-old stallions eager to make a place with the herd but they cannot live together and so they break off in small groups, each having his own band, but the helicopter was chasing them from behind and so they were all running together.

They were of assorted colors, magnificent animals, their legs flying and moving with a grace of years of running through sagebrush and these lands. This was their place and we were the interlopers. Their nostrils were flaring, their manes and tails blowing in the wind. There must have been 35 or 40 of them coming.

They ran up by us onto the bench at full speed, galloping past with a beauty and grace that took me back a hundred years and then we were in the chase, behind them. The horses we were on got caught up as kindred spirits, losing their domestication to go with their roots, to be wild and free.

The horses went into the V, the funnel. The stallion who led them in was black, a large horse, beautiful in his long strong strides. The group was going full tilt, and all of them went in. The guys hiding in the brush quickly closed the gate behind them and the horses were corralled. There was a quarter mile of room in there for them to settle down.

The lead horse didn’t slow down and we all watched as he continued to run to the edge of the point where the land dropped off. All of the horses were running behind him at a full gallop. He was going to fall off, straight to his death, and take some of the others with him. The enclosure was opened and the wranglers took off after him to rope and cut him from the main group.

We were watching but could not believe it when he jumped off, and one by one the whole group went over the edge. A sick feeling came over me as I saw this. It would be a sad day to see all of them lying at the bottom of the drop. There was a 35- to 40-foot drop to the bottom. I could imagine horses with broken legs and all sorts of terrible things went through my mind.

When we rode up the edge and looked below the last of the group was bounding over the cliff, leaping to a large rock standing apart a ways from the drop and it was to here they had jumped using the rock as a way to jump halfway down and then bouncing off it to drop to the valley below without breaking stride. There was no pause and they were still running; not a one injured or hurt; all had made it.

I stood there with those Ute wranglers. The guys from BLM were all cussing those horses and talking about the craziness of them. The Indians to a man stood there apart quietly watching them. All of us looking and without saying a word our hearts were running along with them as they escaped into the canyons below, running wild and free.

Johnny Rustywire is Folded Rocks Clan People on his mother’s side, and born for Tsinahbiltnii, the Mountain People Clan on his father’s side. He comes from Toadlena-Two Gray Hills, New Mexico, where the mountain is cracked and the water flows. He is a father of six and grandfather of 12. He attended Indian boarding schools and grew up on the Navajo Reservation, and has been married to the same woman for 40 years, a Ute from Fort Duchesne, Utah.



National Park Service also managing horses for extinction

From the article below, it seems that the National Park Service (an agency under the U.S. Dept. of the Interior), is touting the use of the EXPERIMENTAL, RESTRICTED-USE PESTICIDE (aka fertility control drug) GonaCon on the “feral” horses in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

On the website for the National Park Service’s “feral” horses for Theodore Roosevelt National Park, it states there is “now a herd of 70-110 animals.”  (THIS IS ALREADY A NON-VIABLE HERD.)

More disturbing is that Blake McCann, the park’s wildlife biologist, gives a different number of horses to the media: “plans to conduct a corral trap this year to start learning how and to manage the 142 wild horses currently in the park, a number well above the 40 to 90 population considered ideal.”  

142 horses instead of 70-110?  Did stallions give birth?

More importantly, a National Park Service wildlife biologist states that a population of 40-90  (a non-viable herd) is considered ideal.  From the article below, he seems to be more worried about a “viable tool” than about a viable herd.

GonaCon didn’t work the first time the National Park Service tried it in 2009, so they re-vaccinated the same 28 mares with it again last year. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted regulatory approval of the experimental RESTRICTED-USE PESTICIDE GonaCon for use on wild and feral horses and burros in Feb. 2013.  So the National Park Service was testing a pesticide on “feral” horses 4 years before there was even EPA regulatory approval.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has also used GonaCon on wild horses.

They got a permit, BUT Department of the Interior agencies are EXPERIMENTING ON FERAL and WILD HORSES AND BURROS, with little regard for variability or viability.  Plain and simple.

And how were the “volunteers” able to determine that stool samples from those 28 mares weren’t from other horses?

And, the debate about the designation of horses and burros as “feral” versus “wild” also continues.  –  Debbie Coffey


Park’s wild horses an experiment in birth control

By Lauren Donovan Bismarck Tribune

548b0207ee9fd.image (photo by Lauren Donovan, Bismark Tribune)

One of the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, along with a few others back in the juniper trees, found refuge and forage in the public campground, which is quiet this time of year.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK – Dan Baker is not like an expectant dad waiting to find out if it’s a boy or a girl. He’s the opposite, hoping to hear that all the pregnancy tests come back negative.

Baker, a research biologist at Colorado State University’s animal reproduction and biotechnology laboratory, is the man in charge of an experimental contraception program in the wild horse herd at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

There is hope that Baker’s work is productive — not reproductive.

Waiting for results

Within a month, he’ll know if he’s onto something that will have implications far beyond this singular herd in this one park — or if he’s back to square one.

The samples are in, and tests will be run soon. He hesitates to even guess at the results.

“It’s totally unknown. It could be anything between no effects all the way to permanent sterilization. This question has never been answered,” Baker said.

If his experiment works, it could be a new way to control the park’s constantly expanding wild horse herd and possibly the thousands of wild horses on Bureau of Land Management land. The method also could have uses in the control of unmanaged wild dog populations in Third World countries, or simply to suppress fertility in domestic horses, dogs and cats.

Badlands lab

Baker’s work in what he calls a perfect — not to mention beautiful — outdoors laboratory dates back to 2009.

“It’s such a great natural lab out there. The area the horses are confined in is large, but not too large. It’s great landscape, and we can find them most of the time,” he said.

In 2009, during the park’s scheduled wild horse roundup and herd reduction, Baker vaccinated 28 wild horses with GonaCon, a vaccine that has been used to suppress pregnancy in captive animals, not free-roaming wild ones such as those in the park.

The results were poor. Half the vaccinated mares became pregnant and, within three years, they all did.

What they’ve since learned is that, even though the park’s wild horses are in excellent physical condition, with good forage, they carry a big parasite load, which may have prevented the kind of antibody response needed to suppress pregnancy.

“Real world horses get injured, or have fence cuts, and their immune systems go toward those things rather than suppressing the hormones that control reproduction,” Baker said.

Last year, the park conducted another wild horse roundup and that’s when Baker’s research took a step further. The same 28 mares were revaccinated to learn whether a second booster of the same drug would achieve a higher antibody response and improve contraception.

Last month, volunteers collected fecal samples dropped on park ground by as many of the 28 vaccinated mares as could be located.

By measuring the feces for estradiol, a hormone excreted by a fetus, Baker’s lab team will soon know if the revaccination was successful.

“As the fetus matures, the concentration of estradiol gets higher and higher. If it’s 10 (nanograms per gram), they’re not pregnant. If it’s 100, they are. In a couple of weeks, after we’ve looked, if everything’s really high, the study’s over,” Baker said.

The proof will be in the lab, but the mares will also be observed in the spring to verify the actual foaling rate.

Park waiting, too

Blake McCann is the park’s wildlife biologist, a man who prizes science and wildlife equally.

McCann’s hopeful the revaccination works, too, but for reasons that have more to do with the horses, than the science itself.

He’d like to see the park bring to an end the longstanding practice of controlling the wild horse population with controversial helicopter-driven roundups and transport to public livestock sales barns. Instead, if the revaccination controls pregnancy by even 50 percent, McCann said becomes more feasible to also lure the wild horses into a makeshift corral in their own environment and remove small select numbers for sale right there.

That practice would be much less traumatic all around for humans and horses, he said. He plans to conduct a corral trap this year to start learning how and to manage the 142 wild horses currently in the park, a number well above the 40 to 90 population considered ideal.

Some doses of the second vaccine were delivered by dart, which was acceptable for the experiment.

“For research, yes, but to use that as a management tool, we would have to go into an environmental impact statement. Darting animals is not part of our management plan,” McCann said.

Whether through contraception or smaller removals from the temporary corrals, McCann said he does not want to see wild horse numbers return to the all-time high of 200 that were there last year when 103 were culled and sold at Wishek Livestock.

“I don’t want to get to 200 again and do another helicopter roundup. With the corral trapping, we can remove a dozen or so every year and get the young mares out before they become reproductively active,” he said.

That said, McCann said he’s hoping Baker’s work is productive, not reproductive, as it were.

“I would like to see the vaccine be a viable tool. We always have to be adaptable as a situation unfolds. I’m hopeful it’s effective,” he said.


BLM wild horse ecosantuary granted to cattle rancher and former Wyoming State Veterinarian

BLM has just sweetened the gig for working cattle ranch, Double D Ranch.  Besides selling livestock, Double D Ranch sells horses.  It seems that Dwayne Oldham, who owns and leases parts of Double D Ranch, is a former Wyoming State Veterinarian and Wyoming Livestock Board member.

It also seems that BLM gave the okay to a wild horse ecosanctuary in an area where there has been a shortage of water.  In a 2013 article in, it states “For the second year in a row, the Washakie Reservoir on the Wind River Indian Reservation is empty long before the irrigation season ends for farmers and ranchers downstream.”  And It cost us $150,000 last year, and this year it will be $100,000,” said Dwayne Oldham, who raises hay to feed cattle within the Wind River Irrigation District.We sold 100 cows and weaned calves early last year.

Neil Kornze, Director of the BLM, thinks ecosanctuaries will “improve” the BLM’s management of wild horses and burros.  First of all, only SAME SEX HORSES ARE ON EACH ECOSANCTUARY (same sex = non-reproducing).

Note to Neil:  The ONLY ways the BLM could possibly improve would be to leave VIABLE herds on the range, stop whittling down HMAs, STOP EXPERIMENTING ON WILD HORSES & BURROS (field spaying of mares is unethical), don’t use any fertility control on non-viable herds, take some videos to PROVE the numbers you claim are on the range, AND STOP MANAGING THE WILD HORSES AND BURROS FOR EXTINCTION WHILE FAVORING LIVESTOCK GRAZING, OIL AND GAS DRILLING AND MINING (uses that make more money).


Lander-area ranch to be a BLM Wild Horse Ecosanctuary; Double D Ranch is on the Reservation


The Double D Ranch land north of Lander looking west to the Wind River Range. (BLM Photo)

(Lander,Wyo.) – The third wild horse ecosanctuary in the United States for off-range care of excess wild horses and burros will be located seven miles north of Lander, the Bureau of Land Management announced today.  The new ecosanctuary would be operated on the 900-acre Double D Ranch, located seven miles north of Lander and would initially hold up to 100 horses, with the first horses arriving as early as the spring of 2015.  The ranch is within the Wind River Indian Reservation.

The ranch is located to the east of U.S. Highway 287 and east and south the Blue Sky Highway (WYO 132) between Plunkett Road and the Ethete intersection.

The BLM’s Lander Field Office issued a Decision Record, resulting from an Environmental Assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act, that addresses comments from the public and adjacent landowners.  The Environmental Assessment can be accessed  The Decision Record, which finds no significant environmental impacts from the ecosanctuary, initiates a 30-day appeal period during which the public may express comments.

Map of the  Double D Ranch property to be part of the ecosanctuary. (from the BLM's Environment Assessment).

Map of the Double D Ranch property (outlined in black) to be part of the ecosanctuary. (from the BLM’s Environment Assessment).

The ecosanctuary would be run by Dwayne and Denise Oldham, who own and lease portions of the Double D Ranch.  It would be the second BLM-private ecosanctuary to be located in Wyoming; a 290-horse ranch is already operated by Richard and Jana Wilson on the 4,000-acre Deerwood Ranch near Centennial, Wyoming.  A third ecosanctuary, known as the Mowdy Ranch, operated by Clay and Kit Mowdy, holds 153 horses on 1,280 acres and is located 12 miles northeast of Coalgate, Oklahoma, in the southeastern part of the state.

“This advances our efforts to improve the BLM’s management of and care for America’s wild horses and burros,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze.  “Although the challenges facing our Wild Horse and Burro Program remain formidable, every step forward moves us closer to our goal of more effective and efficient stewardship of wild horses and burros, both on and off the range.”

“The Lander Field Office has worked closely with the Oldhams to ensure that proper care will be provided for the wild horses and to address the concerns of neighboring landowners,” said BLM Lander Field Manager Rick Vander Voet. “We look forward to a long, successful partnership with the Double D Ranch.”

The wild horse ecosanctuaries, which must be publicly accessible with a potential for ecotourism, help the BLM feed and care for excess wild horses that have been removed from overpopulated herds roaming Western public rangelands.  The BLM enters in partnership agreements with the ecosanctuary operators, who are reimbursed at a funding level comparable to what the agency pays ranchers to care for wild horses on long-term pastures in the Midwest.  The partnership agreement requires that any profits from tourism activities at the ecosanctuary must be used to defray operating costs, thus saving taxpayer dollars.

Long-term plans under the BLM-Double D partnership agreement include a learning/visitor information center, tours, gift shop, and campground.  The Double D Ranch plans to invite the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the Northern Arapahoe Tribe of the Wind River Reservation to partner in running the learning center, which will interpret Native American culture and the historic role of the horse.  The Wind River Visitors Council, Lander Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Lander support the ecosanctuary and would help promote public visitation to it.

The BLM estimates that 49,209 wild horses and burros are roaming on BLM-managed rangelands in 10 Western states, based on the latest data available, compiled as of March 1, 2014.  Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators and their herd sizes can double about every four years.  As a result, the BLM, as part of its management of public rangeland resources, must remove thousands of animals from the range each year to control herd sizes.

The estimated current free-roaming population exceeds by more than 22,500 the number that the BLM has determined can exist in balance with other public rangeland resources and uses. The maximum appropriate management level (AML) is approximately 26,684.
Off the range, as of November 2014, there were 48,447 other wild horses and burros fed and cared for at short-term corrals and long-term pastures, which compares to the BLM’s total holding capacity of 50,153.  All wild horses and burros in holding, like those roaming Western public rangelands, are protected under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, as amended.

The Double D Ranch now hosts domestic horses. It has been proposed for an ecosanctuary for wild horses and burros. This scene looking north from Plunkett Road. (BLM Photo)

The Double D Ranch now hosts domestic horses. It has been proposed for an ecosanctuary for wild horses and burros. (BLM Photo)

Wild Horses: Wyoming’s Governor Seeks Complete Annihilation of His State’s Wild Horses

By Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation


Wild Mares In Salt Wells Creek rounded up in December 13, given birth control released, then rounded up again and removed two months ago

It was not enough for Wyoming Governor Matt Mead that 1263 wild horses were removed from Wyoming’s Checkerboard lands just two months ago. Right after the roundup was completed, he complained that in another few years there would have to be another roundup, and also whined about the public not being on his side. Well now Wyoming has filed suit against the BLM claiming there are too many wild horses in Wyoming, even though after the recent roundups, according to the BLM’s own figures, the current wild horse population of Wyoming is only 2508, which is far below the state’s Appropriate Management Level for wild horses. Press release from Mead’s office:

Family of wild horses in Adobe Town 1 week before being rounded up and sent to Rock Springs corrrals

It was not enough for Mead that the BLM spent $535,000 of our taxpayer money two months ago rounding up wild horses in the Checkerboard to appease the Rock Springs Grazing Association.

Somehow Mead has also conveniently forgotten that two of the BLM’s Field Offices in Wyoming are very successfully using birth control to manage wild horse populations – the McCullough Peaks Herd managed by the Cody BLM Office and the Red Desert Complex, managed by the Lander BLM Office. But Mead has no interest in controlling populations of wild horses using birth control – he just wants them gone entirely.

Mead seems good at completely ignoring facts when it suits him – this is my favorite:

“Herds will continue to exponentially grow beyond what the BLM determined is ecologically appropriate for each herd management area (HMA). These herds have population growth rates that range from as low as 25% to as high as 58% each year.”

In order to attain a 58% population growth per year, the stallions would have to become pregnant and bear foals.

Older mares in Canon City - many have freeze brands - they were treated with birth control but removed anyway

If Mead wants the BLM to remove all the wild horses removed from Wyoming, there is a problem. Currently, there are over 50,000 wild horses in holding facilities, and most of them are bursting at the seams. There wasn’t even room for all the wild horses rounded up from Salt Wells Creek, Adobe Town and Great Divide Basin in the Rock Springs and Canon City corrals, so they had to send 100 youngsters to a burro facility in Utah. Perhaps Governor Mead would like the wild horses to be gunned down by helicopter like they do in Australia.

Older wild stallions now at Canon City

Governor Mead’s plan for Wyoming will leave a special interest wasteland devoid of wild horses, with drilling pad after drilling pad and public lands grazed down to the dirt by livestock. What he fails to understand is that these are NOT Wyoming’s wild horses NOR do these public lands belong to Wyoming – the wild horses and the public land belong to all of us, the taxpaying citizens of the United States of America.

Small family of wild horses in Salt Wells Creek a week before being removed

Wyoming sues feds, claiming too many wild horses

Photo by Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation
CHEYENNE — Wyoming filed a federal lawsuit Monday seeking to force the federal government to reduce the number of wild horses that roam the state.

Wyoming claims the U.S. Department of Interior has failed to follow federal law in controlling wild horse populations.

Gov. Matt Mead said too many wild horses can harm habitat used by other wildlife species, including sage grouse, deer and elk. He says overgrazing by horses can even threaten the horses themselves.

“It is my belief, and the belief of other western governors, that the BLM does not have the resources to manage wild horses effectively,” Mead said. “By filing suit, it sends a message that wild horse management is a priority and the BLM must be provided the funding necessary to manage them.”

The Western Governors’ Association passed a resolution last weekend at its meeting in Las Vegas stating that federal agencies’ inability to rein in rising wild horse and burro populations is an urgent concern.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management earlier this year estimated there were 3,771 wild horses in Wyoming. In its lawsuit, Wyoming claims the horse population exceeds appropriate levels in seven herd management areas by about 475 total horses while populations are constantly increasing.

An attempt to reach a BLM spokeswoman for comment on the state’s lawsuit wasn’t immediately successful Monday afternoon.

While Wyoming is complaining that the federal government isn’t doing enough to reduce wild horse populations, the federal agency is also under fire from wild horse advocates who claim it’s doing too much.

Horse advocate groups sued the BLM this year in an unsuccessful effort to stop the agency from rounding up wild horses from herd management areas around Rock Springs. The agency announced in October that it had rounded up 1,263 wild horses in the Great Divide Basin, Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek herd management areas.

Although the BLM makes wild horses available for adoption, the supply greatly exceeds the demand and thousands of horses are kept in federal holding facilities.

The Friends of Animals group held protests at the BLM’s Rock Springs office this fall to protest the roundups. The group is petitioning the U.S. Department of Interior to grant wild horses and burros federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. It’s also pressing a federal lawsuit charging that the BLM failed to follow environmental laws in approving this fall’s roundups.

Although Wyoming is suing the Department of Interior in this newest lawsuit seeking to reduce the wild horse population, the state has entered the lawsuit filed by Friends of Animals to argue with the federal government that the roundups conducted this fall were proper.

Edita Birnkrant, spokeswoman for Friends of Animals, said Monday she was shocked by Wyoming’s lawsuit seeking to remove more wild horses from the state.

“It’s just mind-boggling, after the egregious roundup that just happened a few months ago, the idea that Wyoming thinks that they’re not doing enough to roundup wild horses, is just nothing short of insanity,” Birnkrant said.

“They’re so out of touch with the residents of Wyoming, and of states all across the country that treasure and want protection for wild horses,” Birnkrant said. “And here we have these out-of-control states with the mentality that says wild horses should be wiped out. There’s no other way to read what’s going on here.”

BLM removes Adobe Town wild horses, and now considers drilling

All over the West, while the BLM blames wild horses and burros for “degradation” to the range and removes them, BLM favors other uses that make money (in violation of FLPMA), and often gives those other uses Categorical Exclusions (CXs).  You can find out more about the BLM Rock Springs Field Office HERE, and Samson Resources HERE.  –  Debbie

SOURCE:  Casper Star Tribune

Critics blast plan for drilling near Adobe Town


54792a4dd5b9b.image Plates of rock line the rim of Adobe Town in the Red Desert of south-central Wyoming. Environmentalists are protesting an Oklahoma company’s plan to drill 17 wells in the region. (photo:  file/Star-Tribune)

Environmentalists are assailing a plan by an Oklahoma-based company to drill up to 17 natural gas wells near the colorful badlands of Adobe Town, in Wyoming’s southwestern desert.

Samson Resources’ plan calls for development of about 117 acres near the Adobe Town Wilderness Study Area, managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Much of the controversy centers on the development’s proximity to the wilderness study area. The project area is within two miles of Adobe Town, and the closest well is some 1,000 feet away from the study area’s boundaries. The company’s plans are subject to BLM approval.

“Adobe Town is one of the important crown jewel landscapes in the entire BLM system,” said Erik Molvar, of Wildearth Guardians, a conservation group. “It has national-park-quality landscapes that we should be protecting for not just this generation but all generations to come.”

This is not the first time Samson and environmentalists have squared off over drilling in the Adobe Town area. In 2011, the company withdrew a proposal to drill two wells in the area after an outcry from environmentalists.

Multiple attempts to reach the company for comment were unsuccessful.

Spencer Allred, a natural resource specialist at the BLM’s Rock Springs field office, said Samson’s plan calls for development of five well pads on BLM leases in the area.

The project falls inside the Monument Valley Management Area, where development is subject to a series of restrictions.

“It is supposed to blend in to the landscape,” Allred said.

The bureau has begun an environmental analysis to understand the effect of the proposed development. Scoping, the first step, in which the outlines of the study are set, was finished earlier this month.

There is no firm timeline for completion of the analysis, Allred said, noting that the last study of Samson’s plan took two years.

The company initially proposed drilling one well. It then proposed drilling two, he said.

The BLM pushed for the 17-well study, as that is the maximum amount of development the area can likely accommodate, Allred said. It is possible, he noted, the company could drill one exploratory well and give up on the plan altogether.

Julia Stuble, public lands advocate at the Wyoming Outdoor Council, said the proposed development’s proximity to the neighboring wilderness study area is a concern.

WSAs, as they are often called, are managed under tight conservation guidelines intended to preserve a parcel for potential designation as wilderness in the future.

The BLM should require Samson to submit the location of all five well pads before approving the plan, given the sensitive nature of the landscape, she said.

The bureau should seek to mitigate the impact of drilling. However, if mitigation measures fail to meet conservation goals spelled out in the region’s management plan, the BLM should reject the proposal, she said.

“It’s not an ideal place for a project,” Stuble said.