Anti-Wild Horse Bill Passes Nevada Senate Committee

I-Team Report by George Knapp of Las Vegas Channel 8 News

Committee Nixes WH Sanctuary without Hearing from Investors

Wild Horse under attack by BLM helicopter near Pickens property during recent Antelope Complex Stampede ~ photo by Terry Fitch

LAS VEGAS — With all the financial trouble Nevada is in, you might think state lawmakers would welcome a project that will bring millions of dollars to the state and attract tourists from around the world.

But a panel in the Nevada State Senate has turned thumbs down to a planned wild horse sanctuary without even hearing from the investors who are backing it.

Senate Joint Resolution 5, which was rubber stamped by the Senate Natural Resources Committee, has no power to do anything about wild horses, as the state has no say over what happens on federal, Bureau of Land Management controlled land.

But the resolution could be a huge problem for a proposed horse sanctuary that is already creating jobs and economic benefits. If the bill moves forward, it would tell the BLM and the world that Nevada likes the wild horse situation just as it is.

In 2008, the I-Team tagged along as philanthropist Madeleine Pickens began her search for ranch property in northern Nevada, the potential site for a sprawling sanctuary for wild mustangs.

The idea would be to take horses that have already been gathered and are warehoused in BLM holding facilities in the Midwest, off limits to the public, and allow them to roam free in their natural environment in a large fenced facility. Pickens planned to create a learning center that would also be a major tourist attraction for Elko County.

Since that first scouting trip, Pickens put her money where her mouth is. She ponied up $6 million to purchase two ranches and is spending plenty to build her dream project, to the benefit of towns like Wells, Nevada, which is still recovering from a terrible earthquake

“She spent $100,000 last month in 30 days alone in labor and materials in Elko County in the City of Wells. So it’s already happening. It’s real. The investment is already there,” said wild horse advocate Jerry Reynoldson.

Reynoldson spent more than two years working to get BLM approval for the Pickens plan. The Bureau admitted from the start that this approach would be far more cost effective than feeding horses in government pens for the rest of their lives and would save taxpayers tens of millions.

In February, BLM Director Bob Abbey admitted that the approach of rounding up then warehousing mustangs simply isn’t working. BLM just announced that it is actively seeking proposals to partner with private entities, just like Pickens’ plan. That’s why the timing of Senate Joint Resolution 5 could not be worse. It expresses opposition to any wild horse preserve on public land in Nevada.

“For the Nevada Legislature to say we’re not going to let you build a sanctuary or go on the record against it is simply saying we want more of the same, we want the status quo, and for ranchers, that’s what they want, just gather them and get them out of here,” said Reynoldson.

The resolution was approved by the Senate Natural Resources Committee, largely because it was backed by the longest serving member, Senator Dean Rhoads of Elko. Rhoads, a lifelong cattle rancher, leases tens of thousands of acres of public land for his cows.The hearing took all of 10 minutes.

Senators disregarded hundreds of emails sent by horse advocates and heard no testimony at all about the Pickens plan or its economic benefits. Rhoads is now trying to get the assembly to follow his lead.

Pickens and her allies hope lawmakers get an earful from the public about economic benefits.

“Nevada needs tourism. You can’t stop tourism from coming to northern Nevada. Get over it guys,” said Pickens.

“This joint resolution is bad because it will stop progress on an issue everyone agrees has gone nowhere for years,” said Reynoldson.

Reynoldson says he has been speaking with lawmakers in the assembly to make sure that if the bill gets a hearing, proponents of the sanctuary at least get to tell their side of it.

SJR 5 also contains what amounts to an outright falsehood — the statement that mustangs are an invasive species and don’t belong here. Scientists have established beyond any doubt that the very first horses were born right here, that they evolved for millions of years in the Great Basin, were wiped out then got reintroduced. But no one bothered to point it out before the committee voted.

Contact Senator Mark Manendo, the chairman of Senate Natural Resources Committee, to voice your opinion. He can be reached at (775) 684-6503 or by email. You can also contact Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, the chairperson of the Natural Resources Committee, at (775) 684-8597 or by email.

Click (HERE) to view Video Report

Bogus Nevada Cow Committee Takes Impotent Swipe at Wild Horses

article by George Knapp of Las Vegas KLAS – TV

“Cattle-driven Rhoads Pushes Bulls**t Horse Law”

George Knapp

It’s great to know our state lawmakers have solved Nevada’s budget woes and have nothing else to do with their time in Carson City. How else to explain a recent vote by the Senate’s Natural Resources Committee regarding wild horses?

The committee, whose longest-serving and most influential member is Dean Rhoads, staunch defender of all that is bovine, approved a bill that urges the BLM to make sure no public land is designated as habitat for wild horses. See, public land is for one thing and one thing only — cows. Privately owned cows, that is. Maybe an occasional sheep. Sen. Rhoads personally leases 60,000 acres from BLM for his cows, and at a bargain price, too, far less than the market value of the land.

The bill, as approved by Rhoads’ committee, would make sure the number of mustangs in Nevada doesn’t get any higher than it is now, and it strongly discourages the creation of wild horse sanctuaries on public ranges. You might be asking, what authority does the state of Nevada have over federally owned lands? Good point. The answer is none. Nevada can’t dictate what is or is not done with federal land, nor does it have any say in regulating wild horses on federal land. In other words, this resolution has zero chance of affecting the public range in any positive way, but it does have the power to screw with our state in a negative way.

Sen. Rhoads is a cattle rancher. He believes that the public range is for cattle, not wild horses, even though federal law says the mustangs have a right to exist on the public lands, while cattle grazing by private ranchers is, at best, a privilege. Rhoads has campaigned against wild horses in pretty much every session of his long legislative career, even opposing a campaign by fourth-graders to declare the mustang as Nevada’s official animal. He has frequently urged the feds to round up as many wild horses as they can capture, to get them off the public lands, even though private cattle outnumber the horses 40 to 1.

If this bill makes it through the Legislature, it won’t make a rat’s ass bit of difference to the BLM’s management of public lands. After all, in just the past two years, the BLM has wiped horses off the map on more than 1 million acres of Nevada range. It doesn’t exactly need a pep talk from Carson City to round up more horses. This week, the bureau came down off the fence regarding the possibility of creating public/private horse sanctuaries, declaring that it wants to hear proposals right away. Presumably this would include the ambitious plans by philanthropist Madeleine Pickens to create a million-acre mustang eco-sanctuary in Elko County, a plan that could transform a worn-down cattle ranch into a world-class tourist attraction and education center, where visitors could enjoy wild horses in their natural environment. Mrs. Pickens has already plunked millions of her own dollars into the project. She purchased a ranch near Elko and wants to lease the attached public lands to allow wild mustangs to run free. Cattlemen are appalled because it would mean some of the public land now devoted to cows would be redesignated for horses. Perish the thought.

Is Nevada so flush with investors and new businesses that it can say no to something as unique and promising as the Pickens plan?

What worries me most is that Sen. Rhoads is seen as perhaps the key vote in plans by Democrats to raise revenue in this session, so there is a chance they might toss him this bone, allow him to get his meaningless bill through the Legislature so that he might be more inclined to side with the D’s when it comes to taxes and budget cuts.

Those hardy Nevadans who make a living by raising livestock on our oft-parched ranges have my unqualified respect. It’s a tough life, fraught with peril. Without some sort of management program, wild horses could certainly threaten the viability of some ranches. But this bill would do nothing to manage the horse herds and little to protect hard-scrabble ranch operations. This bill is pure horse shit. Anyone who cares about the mustangs should let state lawmakers know that this resolution is not only a waste of time, but could cost our state millions of dollars in outside investment and lost tourism.

Click (HERE) to visit George at City Life and comment!

Revenge of the Bureau of Land Management

by George Knapp as printed in Las Vegas City Life

Obama’s Abbey is a Leader?!?

Bob Abbey got his itty-bitty, teeny-weenie feelings hurt

Should an agency of the federal government be able to conduct business on behalf of American taxpayers based on mood swings, capricious whims, and hissy fits? Is petulance an appropriate reaction for the head of a sprawling agency which plays a vital role in the daily life of our country?

I ask these broad questions because I don’t want some readers to tune out once they see the words “wild horses” in this column. Yeah, I know. I write about the mustangs a lot. But this isn’t a column about poor horsies shivering in the cold or staring at you with those big, sad eyes. This is about how government works, who it is beholden to, and why our country is seemingly unable to solve any problem. What’s happening at the Bureau of Land Management makes the agency a poster child for all that is wrong with government. Politicians can promise change and reform, but it is the career civil servants, the immovable, unyielding bureaucrats who decide what does or does not get done in Washington.

You may have read a few days ago BLM Director Bob Abbey issued a death sentence for a proposed wild horse eco-sanctuary in Northern Nevada. This is the plan touted for the last three years by businesswoman and philanthropist Madeleine Pickens, wife of oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens. The Associated Press reported Friday Abbey released a statement that rejected the Pickens plan for a wild horse sanctuary, saying “it would not save taxpayers any money and doesn’t include enough water and grazing area for the mustangs.”

Sounds like a fairly definitive statement from the BLM, right? The AP isn’t known for getting its stories completely wrong, especially when those stores are based on released statements, as opposed to interviews wherein someone can be misquoted, which is the favorite excuse of bureaucrats who screw up and say something they later regret. Is it possible the venerable AP got is story completely and totally wrong, that it misread the statement altogether?

I think if someone were to ask Abbey what he meant to say, they would find out that the Pickens plan is not really dead after all and that Abbey didn’t really say any such thing to a reporter. Maybe Abbey really was misquoted (doubtful), or maybe he changed his mind (possible) or maybe he realized that his decision smacked of pettiness and hurt feelings. Whatever the case, Abbey has told folks in Washington that he did not declare the Pickens plan to be dead and is willing to talk about it more. Beware the tempter tantrum of a lifelong bureaucrat with tears in his eyes and a pout on his mug. Poor widdle guy.

How do I know Abbey’s words were poorly chosen and spoken in haste? Because they are total bullshit, and BLM knows it. For the past few months, Abbey and others from the Interior Department have been bragged again and again about their plans to create public/private partnerships. A mere three weeks ago in Las Vegas, Abbey said the Pickens plan had merit and that he had high hopes for it.

As for the claims the plan won’t work, again BLM knows better. Back In December, BLM honchos met in Elko with the Pickens folks to hash out the details. They basically decided then and there to green light the ecosanctuary, starting with 1,000 horses that are now being warehoused in short-term holding corrals. The math is inescapable. It costs the government — read, taxpayers — $5.75 per day to feed a single horse in short-term holding. The horses that would be turned over to Pickens’ sanctuary would cost only $1.75 per day. Moving those initial 1,000 horses from government corrals into an ecosanctuary would save BLM $1.6 million in the first year, not a huge amount but a good start for this pilot program.

And the BLM has 40,000 will horses in its facilities. It spends tens of millions every year just to feed them. And the statement that there isn’t enough water or forage for horses on the land purchased by Pickens is so patently false that it is embarrassing to hear Abbey make such a claim. Pickens bought two ranches with 18,000 deeded acres and more than 500,000 leased public acres attached.

There isn’t enough food and water for 1,000 horses on more than half a million acres? Ridiculous. Makes one wonder how cattle ranchers have raised vast herds of cows on the same land for more than half a century. Gold mines adjacent the Pickens land have to divert tens of thousands of gallons of groundwater every single hour just to keep from being flooded. There’s plenty of water, and more than enough forage, which means Abbey has resorted to simply making stuff up as a reason to dismiss the Pickens plan.

When I say it stems from sheer petulance, I’m not kidding. BLM keeps saying the Pickens idea is promising but keeps coming up with new hoops for Pickens to jump through. She has done everything they’ve asked, put a pile of her own money on the barrel, and still can’t get BLM to give her the green light. The latest monkey wrench is the order from BLM that Pickens spend $250,000 on a 15-month engineering and environmental assessment, and when that’s finished, she might have to pony up for a full environmental impact statement, which requires another year or so.

Pickens is not used to operating at government speed. This latest stall tactic from BLM suggested to her that the agency will happily drag this out as long as possible, make it as expensive as possible, and even then there are no guarantees. BLM is quite happy to spend millions a year on the same old strategy of rounding up horses, stashing them in corrals, and caring for them until they die. Pickens decided to make her point by taking out full page ad in Politico which criticized BLM;s foot dragging.

The very next day, Abbey announced that the Pickens plan, the same one he had touted for weeks, was dead. Or maybe not. So you tell me, why did he do it?

I get the feeling the BLM is not comfortable dealing with a strong woman like Pickens. To have her take out a newspaper ad criticizing BLM was to much for the bureaucrats to handle. Even though the pilot program is solid on every level, BLM stands ready to kill it because the agency’s feelings are hurt.

That, in nutshell, is what’s wrong with government.

George Knapp is a Peabody Award-winning investigative reporter for KLAS-TV Channel 8. You can reach him at gknapp@klastv.com.

Las Vegas Police Investigating Allegations of Battery at Summit

Story by Steven Long ~ Author and Publisher of Horseback Magazine

Wallis now under investigation in multiple states

Alleged attacker Wyoming State Rep. Sue Wallis at her troubled gathering

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – A spokesman for the Las Vegas Police Department confirmed Friday that it had accepted a complaint of battery from an Arizona wild horse advocate against Wyoming State. Rep. Sue Wallis. The investigation is active, a police spokesman said.

Simone Netherlands also said she plans to file a civil suit against Wallis and has hired Nevada attorney Matthiew Callister who did not return calls from Horseback Magazine.

Wallis is under investigation by a Wyoming district attorney after a complaint was referred by the state’s attorney general. The allegations are of alleged self dealing and ethics violations. An ethics complaint has also been filed against the Recluse, Wyoming Republican with the state legislature.

Wallis is alleged to have physically removed Simone Netherlands from “The Summit of the Horse” event at the South Point Hotel and Casino.

“My arm is now in a sling,” Netherlands told said.

The incident occurred during a speech by renowned animal behaviorist and slaughter expert Dr. Temple Grandin, Wallis allegedly charged the credentialed journalist who says her arm is healing from a horse accident. The arm has nine pins that were inserted during orthopedic surgery four weeks ago. Netherlands underwent treatment and had x-rays at a Las Vegas hospital.

“The pins didn’t move,” Netherlands said, “but there may have been movement of the bone.”

The police spokesman said that if charges against Wallis are prepared it would be a low level misdemeanor.

Netherlands operates Respect 4 Horses, an Arizona rescue.

Speaking to Horseback Online from a Las Vegas hospital emergency room immediately after the Wednesday afternoon incident, Netherlands said she had every right to be at the meeting which organizers had proclaimed to be open members of the horse industry and bona fide press.

“I had a press pass. I’m a producer of the “Meet America” series aired in Santa Barbara. They were true press credentials,” Netherlands said. “It’s a public station. We broadcast all kinds of good horse stuff from there.”

The credential was issued to Netherlands by the Summit of the Horse and her employer.

Wallis was apparently angered by statements Netherland’s made during a news conference Tuesday when the Arizona woman attacked alleged misstatements about horse processing made by Summit organizers and speakers. The comments were aired on a Las Vegas TV newscast by Emmy Award winning broadcast journalist George Knapp.

When Netherlands entered the room to cover Grandin’s speech, the Recluse, Wyoming politician allegedly exploded. Attendees had to be passed over by a hand held metal detector to enter the room. Netherlands had just gone through the device and had walked 15 feet into the conference to take her seat when Wallis approached.

No violent incidents by equine welfare advocates have ever been reported to Horseback Magazine.

Netherlands described the incident.

Injured Equine Advocate Simone Netherlands

“Sue Wallis came storming at me, she grabbed both of my arms and she immediately started pushing me out while she’s saying things like ‘You misrepresented yourself, you’re not with the press, I saw you on TV last night,’ she was like really screaming.”

“I said, Ow!” Netherlands continued. “I said, ‘Ow! Please don’t touch me, but she just kind of shoved me backwards out of the conference room. When we were all the way out she finally stopped touching me.”

“I said, excuse me, I’ve got press credentials, will you please check them out?”

She said, ‘Well, I’m taking it away. I don’t want you here and they are going to escort you off the property.”

Wallis did not call hotel security to professionally remove the woman until after the incident when Netherlands was in a hallway outside the meeting room.

Hotel security arrived and Netherlands protested being removed from the conference.

“What did I do, I didn’t disturb anyone, I basically went into the conference, I was there all day yesterday,” Netherlands told Horseback. “They told me ‘This is private property and we can escort you out for any reason, even if we don’t like your face.”

Las Vegas police were called to the scene and took a statement from Netherlands. She later filed her formal complaint at the Las Vegas Police’ Stewart substation.

Netherlands complained that she was in pain as she awaited the results of an X-ray that had just been taken at the hospital.

Hotel management was unaware of the incident when contacted by Horseback Online Wednesday evening.

Netherlands called the Las Vegas police who took a report from her but would not accept charges against Wallis after reviewing a video of the incident, telling Netherlands they didn’t believe Wallis intended to hurt her.

The sparsely attended conference was billed as a national convention of the horse industry aimed to get the equine business back on track after a severe economic slump. Thus far it is been primarily an effort to again open horse meat slaughterhouses for human consumption. The nation’s three abattoirs were closed in 2008 after the courts found state laws making them illegal were constitutional.

Recent surveys show nine out of ten Americans are opposed to the killing of horses for food, up from 70 percent in previous surveys.

Wallis has still made no comment regarding the incident after a Horseback request for her side of the story.

Visit Horseback (HERE) for additional info. and comment

Head Horse Eater Loses Cool at SlaughterFest

(The News as We See It) by R.T. Fitch ~ Author/Director of HfH Advisory Council

Sue Wallis Shows Loser Frustration by Man-handling Reporter

Seated, Simone Netherlands, John Holland and R.T. Fitch at March for the Mustangs, D.C. 3/2010

Today, during the afternoon session of the much beleaguered pro-horse slaughter summit in Las Vegas a free-lance reporter and benign horse trainer was strong armed out of the conference room by the Bloodfest’s lead supporter, Wyoming State Representative Sue Wallis, currently under investigation for fraud and ethics charges.

Equine Advocate and citizen journalist Simone Netherlands had just entered the conference room when Sue Wallis accosted the formerly welcomed credentialed reporter and was physically forced out of the room.

“I just walked in and could see Wallis making a beeline straight for me, she certainly had a mission in mind.” reported Netherlands, “Without any verbal explanation Wallis grabbed my healing broken arm and tugged for me to leave.  I actually said ‘ouch’ and asked her to take her hands off from me but she continued to pull me out of the room.”

“Once outside of the room,” Netherlands continued, “Wallis said that ‘they’ had seen me on the televised George Knapp report the night before and because of my opinion and stance against the slaughter of horses for food they were rescinding my press credentials and I was not allowed to attend.  She said that I was an interviewee and not an interviewer.”

During this telephone exchange with this reporter Netherlands was further accosted outside the conference room and in the hallway by Sue Wallis accompanied by security guards.  I asked Simone to keep her phone on speaker and listened to the entire exchange as she was escorted out of the convention area and too the Casino.

Netherlands, likewise, complained that her healing arm was in pain due to Wallis’s physical abuse and consequently contacted law enforcement authorities to file a complaint against the Slaughterfest’s promoter.  Authorities did arrive and interviewed both Netherlands and Wallis then reviewed the surveillance tape.  Due to the fact that the authorities did not believe that Wallis willfully and intentionally harmed Netherlands they did not charge Wallis with battery but Netherlands did file a report, none the less.

At the time of this writing Simone was at a local emergency room where her healing arm, broken during a horse training incident, is being x-rayed for damage from Wallis’ unprovoked attacked.

Netherland’s earlier filed report on the failings of the “Summit” will be forth coming.

Updates to follow.

Press and Guests Turn On Slaughterfest Organizers

(The News as We See It) by R.T. Fitch ~ Author/Director of HfH Advisory Council

Speakers didn’t conform and press turned ugly

It doesn’t take someone with much more than a grade school education to quickly figure out that self-appointed horse eaters, “Slaughterhouse” Sue Wallis and Dave “Doink” Duquette have managed, once again, to shoot each other squarely between the eyes with their failed SlaughterFest being held in Las Vegas this week.  Their message that Eating horses is Helping Horses has not only fallen on its perverted face but it has brought their entire bloody and distorted message before the public in a very profound and informative way.

News coverage on the dirty event has been brutal against the agenda to turn companion horses into fillets and steaks for human consumption while the same coverage has been extensive and is actually working to support the pro-horse movement to bring the truth on the issue of horse slaughter to the American public.

With greed and deception being the major drivers behind the Wallis/Duquette agenda their hopes that the BLM Director, Bob Abbey, would side with them regarding wild horses and the Director just would not go there or support such a ludicrous stance.  After months of touting Abbey’s much-anticipated speech, Duquette simply glossed over his appearance on his Facbook page as the Director did not say what Wallis and Duquette wanted to hear.

Wallis and Duquette made a very serious tactical error in attempting to deceive the public regarding their trumped-up issue of the unwanted horse and have managed to not only energize the movement against them but to help expand and educate the public on the truth of their bloody agenda.  Wallis is already under investigation for fraud and ethics violations while a personal friend of Duquette’s won the long-awaited drawing of a Dodge Truck as a door prize to the BloodFest.

To see George Knapp‘s detailed coverage of this travesty gone bad click (HERE).

For additional Channel 8 video coverage of the Wallis/Duquette fiasco click (HERE)

Warning, both of these reports are graphic and exactly the truth that Wallis and Duquette do not want you to see.  Two people who promote Horse Slaughter yet neither have been to a Horse Slaughter plant.

Embattled BLM Director Refuses to Speak With Horseback Magazine

Opinion by Steven Long ~ Editor/Publisher of Horseback Magazine (Live Link)

Bob Abbey Dodges Probing Questions and the Truth

BLM's "Who Needs the Truth" Abbey

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – Let’s see now, we’ve been attempting to get an on the record interview with federal Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey since at least August. 2009. With every attempt, and there must have been at least ten of them, Horseback has been rebuffed. It isn’t as if we have been idle covering the agency’s treatment of the wild horses in its charge. I suspect we’ve probably done more stories than any other news organization, with the possible exception of veteran Las Vegas broadcaster George Knapp.

It’s not as if we are obscure. Tens of thousands come to our website for news of the equine world according to our stats. Our print publication boasts around 50,000 readers in four states, and subscribers scattered here and abroad.

And it’s not as if Horseback Magazine or its editor is an upstart in the world of journalism. I long ago sent Abbey my bio including a reasonably comprehensive list of where I’ve been and what I’ve done in my chosen work for close to 40 years. Still, the director has refused to give me the time of day.

But facts are facts, and one indisputable one is that I ask tough, sometimes very tough, questions no matter what party, governor, or president, appoints a high government official. Despite nationwide protests, BLM has turned a tin ear to calls to stop its relentless capture of the nation’s wild horses with 26 roundups in the first quarter fiscal 2011 scheduled and 32 recorded for all of 2010.

Yet Abbey hides behind his very accomplished Washington spokesman, one of the best in the business. So it came as no surprise that after we broke the story that the BLM director had accepted an invitation to speak before a group in Las Vegas whose sole purpose for meeting is to legalize horse slaughter in the United States, he issued a statement through his government spokesman. In the comment, Abbey makes the far from comforting statement that the agency has the statutory authority to legally kill horses under the 1971 Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act saying “The Department of Interior and the BLM have already removed from the discussion table any consideration of the euthanasia of healthy wild horses and the unlimited sale of older horses even though these legal authorities exist…” Of course the fact remains, the agency could change course with the blink of the director’s bureaucratic eyelash. And to translate, in BLM bureacratese, the term “Unlimited Sale” means selling the animals to virtually anybody, including killer buyers who peddle the creatures to slaughterhouses across the Mexican and Canadian borders.

Abbey notes in his statement that he has met with the Humane Society of the United States. Animal welfare advocates concerned with the wholesale capture of and captivity of wild horses claim HSUS is conniving with the BLM to sterilize vast numbers of Mustangs in its use of PZP, a fertility drug that inhibits a mare’s ability to reproduce. Abbey also bragged in his statement that he met recently with representatives of the Cloud Foundation. Ironically, the foundation has been at odds with BLM for years, most recently for installing fencing along with the U.S. Forest Service where none is needed in the Pryor Mountains, and a cattle guard, lethal to horses. The truth is that Cloud raised enough sand to get safeguards welded onto the deadly device. Abbey has also met with billionaire Madeleine Pickens who recently announced she is opening a huge ranch for Mustangs the BLM has already rendered unable to breed.  He neglected to mention that Thursday the Texas woman wrote him a no holds barred letter castigating his appearance before the Las Vegas group whose claims have been repeatedly challenged as unfounded.

So come on Bob, let’s talk. I’m attaching the link to my personal web page, www.stevenlongwriter.com.  You’ll find virtually every story I’ve written about the BLM there in an archive. You’ll also find my bio. You’ll be able to see the books I have written, one of which won a State Bar of Texas award for excellence.  I think that speaks for itself. The book is found in the library of many medical and nursing schools.

So how about it Bob, again, let’s talk.

Click (HERE) to read the story in it’s entirety

Not All “Judas” Horses Have Four Legs

(In My Humble Opinion) by R.T. Fitch ~ Executive Director, HfH Advisory Council

Diarrhea of the Mouth Claims Another Victim

"Betrayed from Within" how does such conduct help him? - Photo by Terry Fitch

Our recent flurry of rational, planned and effective legal assaults, along with others,  upon the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) defunct Wild Horse & Burro policy has caused the agency in question to activate one of their most covert and unethical instruments in their arsenal of offensive and unscrupulous weapons used to cover up the truth and facts.  This instrument of deception is aimed right at the heart of the wild horse advocacy movement and is, allegedly, considered by a few to be one of us.  This is a clear example of just how low this agency will stoop in an effort to perpetuate its agenda and speaks volumes on the absence of integrity relevant to the individual involved.

This “person” has been around wild horses for years and on a local level he has done good deeds to help horses within his small area of influence.  He thrives on being the center of attention considering that only what he spouts from his lips is correct, only he knows what is of worth and if the focus is not on him, but on someone else who is making more of a difference than he, then that individual is automatically deemed to be an “enemy” by himself and his few followers.  (Jason Meduna had a few followers at 3-Strikes and where are they now?)

For years he has shared his bed with the BLM and collected many a paycheck with the BLM’s logo firmly stamped onto the check.  He hangs out with them, drinks coffee with them and does his best to “control” the advocates so that no one upsets his BLM buddies, many times at the expense of the wild horses safety, liberty and lives.

In his little corner of the world he has lost his vision and, perhaps, never even achieved a global perspective on not only the wild horse issue but the general perception of our equine friends across this world.  Instead of being a leader in furthering the cause of humane treatment of horses in general this individual, along with several good folks duped by his beleaguering dialog, is now doing far more harm than good and misrepresenting the very horses he once had a passion for and cared about.

I could have lived with the drivel that comes out of his tiny world in a small part of Nevada as I accept tunnel vision for what it is, discount the narrow mind set, feel pity for the individual and then move on.  But when that single minded whining turns into slanderous and malicious lies and accusations directly aimed at individuals who are sacrificing everything to make a difference for the horses, and succeeding, then that is more than I can tolerate and I will no longer quell my tongue.  There is something in me that snaps when a bully kicks a puppy and that is just what this blow-hard has done and he is not smart enough to call it quits even when he is losing.

I had hoped to put a stop to it with my article “A Few Rotten Apples Do Not a Herd Make” as I attempted to weave the message without going into specifics; my concern was the solidarity of our union and the moral constitution that begged me to keep it in the “Upper Loop”.  But his continuous BLM fed ramblings and false accusations require a response.  I am fully aware that you will never win an argument with someone who has cotton in his ears; all you can do is shine a light on the fact that he is talking out of an orifice other than his mouth and from that location there is no association with the brain, hence the information delivered is of no value and is exactly what it looks and smells like, crap.

Our steadfast media champion, George Knapp, can wordsmith a reply to this BLM apologist and sympathizer far better than I could ever hope and George did just that back in 2007 with great flair, professionalism and attention to the facts, something the offending “Judas” advocate cannot lay claim to.

Reprinted here is George’s reply to one of this individual’s lengthy, draw-out, hyper inflated emails which Cindy MacDonald lovingly placed on her wonderful blog, American Herds.  Although lengthy this piece will have you rolling on the floor with laughter as George tells this pompous, self-righteous blowhard where to put it and how it should be placed.  Credibility for this roadblock to the wild horse’s freedom has long since disappeared and is now and forever shall be, in the toilet.

Amen. ~ R.T.

Lead us into it, Cindy…

George Knapp, a champion for the Horses

“George Knapp, Chief Investigative Reporter for the I-Team – KLAS-8 TV in Las Vegas, NV recently aired a hard hitting two part expose highlighting some of the serious issues facing the Bureau of Land Management’s mismanagement of the Wild Horse & Burro Program.

Despite being THE Chief Investigative Reporter for the Las Vegas I-Team with a solid reputation earned over decades of in depth coverage and breaking news, apparently George is no match for the one, the only, the incredible, the invincible, the all knowing and all seeing Willis Lamm.

It appears Willis graciously took a few moments out to drop George a line and tell him where he went wrong, which from the sounds of it, was everywhere – at least in the World According To Willis!

The Knappster has answered back……”

Dear Mr. Lamm,

First of all, please accept my apology for taking so long to respond to your lengthy and highly detailed email of Nov. 22. I hesitate to call it an email since it is more akin to a book or term paper on wild horse management. In light of the many issues you raised, I knew I would need to carve out some time to craft an appropriate response. That said, I won’t address every single point you made because I’d probably need to take a week of vacation time to get to all of it. I’ll try to respond to the most salient points you made, along with a few glaring omissions.

After my stories aired here in LV and arrangements were made to broadcast them in Reno as well, I was warned by several wild horse enthusiasts that I would be hearing from you. They basically told me about the role you’ve assumed in the wild horse debate up north and described the type of response I would likely receive. The predictions were amazingly accurate.

To begin, let me assure you that I welcome input from all sides, especially with a story as complicated and emotional as this one. I found your letter to be both cordial and condescending, informative in many places and overtly misleading in others. I’ve been a professional journalist in Nevada for more than a quarter century, and while I appreciate your admonitions and advice, I don’t really need to be lectured about the importance of accuracy in news reporting. This is a lesson that is basically encoded in my DNA. This isn’t a hobby for me. When someone accuses me of being inaccurate or unfair or misleading, I take it very seriously. I’m sure you feel the same way.

That’s why I was so surprised by some of the things you wrote. If your mission is to set the record straight, one would think you would be more careful about some of the assertions you made. Here’s an example. Toward the end of your letter, you informed me that BLM had recently staged an adoption event ‘near Las Vegas’ in which 100 horses were placed. Really? I’ve been reporting on wild horse issues for close to 20 years. To my knowledge, there has never been an adoption event in Las Vegas that placed 100 horses. I can tell you with absolute certainty that there has been no such event in recent memory. Your statement is absolutely false.

However, I agree with your subsequent conclusion that there is a viable market in Nevada for horse adoptions. The problem is, BLM has been unwilling or unable to tap into that market, a policy decision that has prompted many to question the competency and the agendas of those who have so profoundly mismanaged this program. My personal suspicion is that the animosity which has developed between certain BLM managers and the community of wild horse advocates has degenerated to the point that it affects policy decisions within the bureau. I suspect…but cannot prove…that a few BLM managers have become so hostile toward wild horse groups and individual advocates that they actively and purposefully work to thwart successful adoption efforts in the state that is home to half of the horses still in the wild.

This brings me to another issue that is central to our exchange. Your letter focused on issues of range science, a subject that was addressed in part two of my two-part report. Did you miss part one? There is nothing whatsoever in your letter about the most important questions I raised in this series. The impetus for the two reports was the adoption program, or, more accurately, the lack thereof. I wanted to know whether BLM Nevada is managing the program as prescribed by federal law. Based on what I found, the answer is no.

It took me 7 months to obtain basic budget information. The numbers don’t lie, but I can’t say the same for BLM managers. As you know, the law which created the wild horse program provides for a management strategy which includes adoption efforts. The budget figures show that BLM Nevada commits vast resources to roundups, and considerable funds to the warehousing of horses, but very little for adoption efforts. It’s pathetic. The result is that tens of thousands of wild horses are stuck in government pens. It costs millions of dollars each year just to feed them, a bad deal for horses and a bad deal for taxpayers. When I interviewed Susie Stokke about the disparity, she was less than forthcoming, to put it mildly. She made a bad situation worse by flat-out lying to me about adoption efforts and then engaged in blatant—and transparent—attempts to manipulate the budget numbers. This isn’t a he-said-she said situation or a gray area subject to interpretation. Not even close.

I’m told that you know Ms. Stokke pretty well. There are those who think you are an agent for her, perhaps because you hope to secure a contract when certain programs are green lighted. Based on my own experiences over the years, I’d say that BLM is generous with wild horse groups that toe the line, and openly hostile with those who dare to criticize the program. I don’t know enough about you to offer a guess, but there is no question that you are widely perceived as an apologist for BLM, the person who always makes himself available to the media when the wild horse program receives criticism. You certainly wasted no time in contacting me after my stories aired, but—as mentioned above—you completely ignored the central focus of my reports, namely, the pathetic, seemingly intentional failure of BLM adoption efforts in Nevada. You don’t seem to be shy about expressing your opinions, so please feel free to give me your appraisal of the current management regarding adoptions and the blatant budget disparities. Susie thinks the program is just peachy. Do you agree? In your letter, you objected to my characterization of Nevada’s ridiculously low adoption rate. Okay, let’s hear how you would characterize it? Is it a success? You criticized my statement about the ‘rate of adoption’ by asserting that Nevada ranks 14th in total numbers of adoptions. Comparing rates versus total numbers? Come on. Are you serious?

Several times in your letter, you disparage those wild horse advocates who disagree with you while bragging about your own lofty status as a wild horse authority. Can you please elaborate. Did you work for the program prior to moving here? Do you have a degree in animal husbandry or range science? What is your level of expertise? One reason for the questions is your claimed status as the voice of reason in the wild horse debate. You say ‘most of the mainstream media’ have low regard for ‘the lunatic fringe’, meaning, horse advocates who don’t agree with your view. You seem to be saying that you are credible and everyone else isn’t. If this is how the news people in Reno see things, shame on them. No one has a monopoly on the truth, and no one is the ultimate authority on these issues. There are many viewpoints which deserve to be heard. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they are lunatics and it seems incredibly egotistical for anyone to assume the position as the supreme arbiter of all questions about wild horses. This is the U.S.A., after all. It’s our duty as citizens to get involved and to speak up. No offense meant, but you didn’t invent wild horses. You aren’t the arbiter of truth. You’re one guy, not THE guy. There are many honest and compassionate people who’ve been working with wild horses far longer than you, and they happen to see things differently. When you refer to them as lunatics or “The Hysteria Corps”, it says a lot more about you than it does about them.

I see from your letter that you filed the paperwork to create a non-profit group and then you helped to form another umbrella organization. That’s admirable, but the formation of a 501c3 doesn’t make you an expert. The IRS doesn’t require a competency exam when it approves non-profits. You say your volunteers are out in the field every day, studying the range conditions, gathering info. That’s awesome, but what happens to the data? Do you give it to the BLM? Honestly, in all the years of reading BLM documents and public filings, I’ve never seen any reference to you or your group. You mentioned that your daughter is a DVM, that she reviews your observations and concurs with your conclusions. No offense to your family, but there isn’t a scientific organization in the world that would ask a daughter to do a peer review of her dad’s research. What’s she going to say? Hey Pop, you’re a nitwit? More pointedly, what does she review? What happens to this information? Where does it go? If the primary purpose of this research effort is to buttress your position as the ultimate authority on all wild horse issues, then I have many other questions about your goals, plans, and motives. The inference might seem unfair, but if you look at this from my vantage point, I hope you can see why I would ask.

A couple of other items deserve a response. You objected to the title of one of my stories because it mentioned “the science behind BLM roundups.” You say the story itself isn’t based on science. Can I get an amen? This is what we in the journalism biz refer to as irony. The entire point of the report was that there is very little science involved in BLM decisions to gather horses. I interviewed Craig Downer, who not only grew up with wild horses in his backyard, but earned advanced degrees and was employed as a range scientist by BLM. He quit in disgust because he knows the decisions to round up the horses very often have nothing to do with science and little to do with the health of the range. If you have expert testimony from someone who is MORE qualified than Craig Downer, I’d like to see it. BLM is rounding up horses for reasons that have little, if anything, to do with science.

You stated that my information about the Jackson Mountains roundup is ‘misleading’. As noted, the exact line was that the roundup was authorized ‘supposedly because there wasn’t enough forage to support them.” You say the problem was lack of water, not forage and that your team saw ‘thousands of acres of grass’ in the area. That is very interesting information. I hope you will pass it along to your colleague Ms. Stokke because the information she has directly contradicts yours. In our on camera interview, Ms. Stokke told us the horses were starving, that they barely survived by ‘eating brush’, and that this is the reason BLM rounded them up. (A side issue–If the problem was lack of water, I’m curious to know what role BLM played in cutting the horses off from their water sources.) I also hope the two of you can resolve your differences over whether the horses were starving or dying of thirst…or maybe it was both. If you think my information was misleading, you might want to go to the source and tell her that she’s full of baloney. Let me know how that goes.

There’s another reason why the forage-or-water issue is relevant. I questioned Ms. Stokke about why all of the horses dropped dead at Palomino Valley. She told me—again, on camera—that the horses had been surviving by eating brush and that when they were fed rich hay at PV, it caused an inflammation of the salmonella already in their systems and they died. I reported it exactly as it was told to me by BLM, that the animals already had salmonella in their systems and they started dying because of the feed they received. In your letter, you said this was FALSE, in capital letters, ‘so patently false that it boggles the minds of those who understand these issues.’ By that, I guess you mean that Susie Stokke doesn’t understand these issues. I’m glad we agree on something.

You also expressed the opinion that the horses ‘were properly handled’ at PV, that they were fed grass hay because that’s what ‘any experienced veterinarian’ would recommend, and that the stories about horses dying because of their feed were ‘rumors.’ Well, maybe you’re right. Maybe everything was done by the book and, as Susie said, the horses got the best care possible. Then again, they’re dead. They keeled over dead, dozens at a time, but I’m sure they were grateful for the great care they received. Are you telling me there was no alternative to this, no other approach that could have been taken, no way to ease them into a different diet? Really? If, as you suggest, they were dying already, then why go to the trouble of rounding them up and bringing them in? On the open range, they were alive. In the corral, they were dead. I guess it’s just one of those things.

One final bone of contention. You went into considerable detail about the impact of cattle and sheep on the range versus the impact of horses. I’m not even going to try to hassle about all of the specifics except for this central point. If you are suggesting that the plight of wild horses is not directly related to the competition for resources posed by cows and sheep…and housing developers…and oil companies….and mining conglomerates, then I don’t see any reason to continue the dialogue. There’s always a reason to remove horses (and the ‘best’ reason is that it’s for their own good), but when it comes to competing uses for public lands, the horses always seem to rank at the bottom of the list. Always. Anyone who thinks the ambitious, revved up removal program is unrelated to the influence of cattle interests with the current administration is not being honest.

The program is a mess, an embarrassment. The people who are calling the shots in Nevada should be ashamed. Putting resources into adoption efforts makes even more sense now that the roundups are so relentless, but it isn’t happening for reasons that have little to do with logic or good public policy.

I don’t know you, but I know OF you. I don’t like some of the things you say, not because I disagree with your conclusions but because, by personal decree, you assume the mantle of authority on all things related to wild horses. You informed me that mainstream media in your neck of the woods consider you to be the go-to guy for wild horse questions. Well, I’m not them. If you want a dialogue, that’s fine with me. But I’m not someone who is particularly impressed by posturing or intimidation tactics. As for the invitation to join your team sometime out on the range, if you’re still willing, I might take you up on that.

George Knapp
KLAS TV

The BLM Censoring Wild Horse Roundups

Chief Investigative Reporter George Knapp and Chief Photojournalist Matt Adams

Las Vegas CBS Channel 8

George Knapp Nails BLM and Dave Cattoor

LAS VEGAS — The Bureau of Land Management has suffered two defeats in federal court in recent weeks. One judge ordered BLM to make public the names of ranchers who lease public land for grazing, something BLM didn’t want to do. A second judge struck down a BLM plan to severely limit public input into how public lands are managed.

Click on Image to View Channel 8 video of David Cattor conspiring to hide killing horses from Horseback Magazine reporters, Laura Leigh, Terry Fitch and R.T. Fitch ~ Photo by Jim Wilson/NYT

BLM management has come under severe criticism from wild horse advocates who allege the agency seems to be morphing a public program into a private, off-limits undertaking.The BLM is in the middle of the most ambitious schedule of wild horse roundups in modern history, with some 10,000 mustangs from Nevada and other states in its crosshairs — meaning they will be captured and then shipped off to holding pens or long term warehousing at a cost of tens of millions of public dollars.

BLM says it values transparency, but has gone to great lengths to hide what it’s doing from the very taxpayers who foot the bill. It’s as if BLM is taking a lesson from other three-letter agencies, like CIA.

The 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act was passed with overwhelming support from the public for the preservation of wild herds on public ranges, but BLM has chafed under this edict ever since, despite P.R. statements to the contrary.

More than 20 million acres that were set aside for the herds have been zeroed out — wiped free of horses even though privately owned cattle still graze on the same acres.

BLM has apparently grown tired of being pummeled for the roundups, but when you chase wild animals with helicopters across miles of tough terrain, there will always be consequences and BLM no longer wants you to see them.

All of its most recent roundups have been headquartered on islands of private land located within the public acres. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but by putting their operations on private property, BLM managers get total control over who gets to see what they do.

At last winter’s Calico Roundup in Nevada, the bloodiest roundup in memory, observers from the public and media were invited to watch for only designated times and from a considerable distance.

Horse advocates didn’t see animals injured or killed, yet we know it happened, a lot, since more than 100 mustangs died either at the site or in holding pens later. It likewise didn’t want to see images on the evening news of the horses that keeled over dead during the Owyhee Roundup after being run for miles during the hottest month of the year.

BLM not only put roundup operations on private land, its holding pens are now private too. Horse advocates were previously able to visit the Fallon corrals to photograph the carnage, such as the colts whose hooves were literally ground off by the forced run over miles of sharp rock.

A few months ago, BLM decided it had had enough of those images, so it severely limited public access to holding facilities. It has even declared the air space off limits, a power it doesn’t have.

Horse advocates who tried to get in to see one recent roundup were threatened with arrest, even after a federal judge ordered BLM to allow them in.

What next, will they start stashing wild horses down in the bowels of Area 51, right there with the corpses of extraterrestrials? Will mustangs become the black budget equivalent of stealth drones and death rays?

The BLM doesn’t want the public to see the money shot — that is, a dead or dying horse or a cowboy kicking a colt in the head, so access is tightly controlled, you know, for our own protection.

The wild horse program isn’t part of the Pentagon’s black budget. National security is not at stake out on the range. Those are public dollars being spent on public lands by public employees. There is no room in those wide open spaces for secrecy and subterfuge.

Another roundup is set to begin this week in Nevada. BLM says it will arrange for at least one day for the public to observe the operation.

More Nevada Roundups Planned Despite Pleas from Congress

Chief Investigative Reporter George Knapp and Chief Photojournalist Matt Adams

Click (HERE) to View Video and Leave Comments

Wild Horses of Twin Peaks ~ Photo by Terry Fitch

LAS VEGAS — Government contractors have fired up their helicopters for yet another roundup of Nevada wild horses. The latest gather targets a remote area north of Ely, Nevada.

Four more roundup operations are on the schedule in our state this year. They will not only thin the herds, but wipe them out altogether.

2010 already ranks as one of the most aggressive in the history of Bureau of Land Management horse roundups, with a lot more to come. Operations which proved deadly for the herds have already scooped up thousands of mustangs from public ranges, but with no commensurate reduction in the number of private cattle allowed to stay.

The next round seems are designed to wipe out the horses altogether.

The Moriah Herd area near Ely will result in the removal of every one of the 72 horses living on thousands of acres. Two other Nevada herd management areas will be completely zeroed out of horses, and two others will see more than 90-percent of the mustangs taken away, even though federal law set aside those ranges as places where horses could roam forever.

Critics of the program say it looks as if BLM is in a race to grab every horse it can get before the program gets shut down, which is exactly what is needed according to a letter sent to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and signed by 54 members of Congress, including Nevadans Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus.

The letter harshly criticizes the roundups, calls for an immediate moratorium, and seeks an outside study of the science behind the gathers, or lack thereof, by the National Academy of Sciences.

BLM says it will cooperate with such a study, but Director Bob Abbey told Congress he has no intention of stopping the roundups.

“We signed the letter because we need to stop the roundups and the slaughter so we can study the policy. It hasn’t worked and they know it, we know it, the horses know it. We asked that they allow for a study but they won’t stop and I worry because these studies can take years,” said Rep. Titus.

Titus worries that by the time the study is complete, more herd areas could be wiped out by BLM. The roundups themselves can be deadly to horses.

“You see these pictures of them running to death and the colts and it breaks your heart,” she said.

A separate review of the horse program is already underway. The inspector general of the Interior Department is actively soliciting information from the public, including horse advocates, about all that’s wrong with its implementation — a review that can’t be seen as good news within BLM.

On another front, philanthropist Madeleine Pickens is hoping to move forward with her plans to build a sprawling horse sanctuary in northern Nevada. Pickens has already put millions of her own money into buying a large ranch near Elko and now has an agreement to buy a second property as well.

She will need the cooperation of BLM if she wants to put captured mustangs on the land so she can open an eco-tourism attraction, although BLM has said in the past it does not wants the horses to remain in Nevada, even in a sanctuary.

Director Abbey has agreed to meet with Pickens this month to talk about her plan but has made no promises.

Titus says she has already introduced legislation to force BLM to use options other than roundups, such as more adoptions, birth control, and a program to encourage ranchers to allow horses to graze on private range. But BLM continues to use roundups as the primary focus of the program.

Here’s a list of recent gathers:

Herd Area # of Horses # Removed
Moriah 72 72
Montezuma 139 139
Paymaster 45 45
Reveille 250 198
Silver King 600 545