Welfare Ranchers Escalate War on Wild Horses

by Tracie Sullivan, less headline and byline, as published in The Spectrum

Federally Subsidized Cattlemen Want Exclusive Use of Public Land for Personal Profit

Privately owned welfare cattle being herded onto public land and wild horse habitat  ~  photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Privately owned welfare cattle being herded onto public land and wild horse habitat ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

In an effort to gather support for recent legislation introduced by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT Iron County), Iron County Commissioner Dave Miller pushed a resolution through last week at the National Association of Counties that sends a resounding message back to Congress — let the states manage their own wild horses.

The resolution, which was also carried by County Commissioner Mark Whitney, Garfield County Commissioner Leland Pollock and Piute County Commissioner Darin Bushman, was unanimously passed by all 3,069 county members of NACo.

“It went through with very little to no debate,” Bushman said. “It was amazing.”

Stewart recently introduced the Wild Horse Oversight Act of 2014, H.R. 5058, that if passed would take jurisdiction from the Bureau of Land Management and give it to the states and Indian Tribes to implement their own management plans for the wild horses and burros according to their specific needs.

In an interview with The Spectrum and Daily News Monday, Stewart said NACo’s resolution will go far to help him in getting H.R. 5058 through Congress.

“It clearly helps us. This resolution was passed unanimously,” Stewart said. “We’re not talking about all conservative Republican counties here that passed it either but many political philosophies, and they all agreed that the states have the right to manage their own wild horses. Some of these counties are controlled by independents and Democrats, so this will help us to build a broad coalition of supporters. I’m very grateful for that.”

The resolution lends support for Stewart’s legislation, calling for the federal government to “give individual states exclusive authority to appropriate herd management levels and dispose of animals that exceed AMLs at state’s discretion, just like States do now for other wildlife species.”

Stewart said while it’s still early in the process, he hasn’t run into any issues with the Congressional delegation. He feels he may even have the support of Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, long a Democratic stalwart.

“I can’t speak for Sen. Harry Reid but the reality is his state has a much bigger problem with the wild horses and even he has expressed frustration with the BLM’s management of the wild horses,” Stewart said.

While at the NACo conference in New Orleans, Miller said he spent time with a few congressional leaders including Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu — who he believes will support efforts to turn the management of the wild horses over to the states.

Still, wild horse advocates argue the bill was introduced on behalf of “extremists” and believe they have the numbers to stop the legislation…(CONTINUED)

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

Some Horse Sense at Last?

by George Knapp the “Knappster” on Las Vegas City Lights

BlM Forced to Consider Pickens’ Wild Horse Plan?

George Knapp

Officially, anyway, the news that the BLM is finally willing to consider a public-private partnership with wild horse advocate Madeleine Pickens is a good thing. After all — as reported in this space many times — the federal wild horse and burro program is a dismal failure. So any proposal that might reinvigorate the program, do a better job of caring for the mustangs and the public range, while also saving millions of taxpayer dollars, is a step in the right direction, even if it is a small step. In that sense, the BLM deserves a round of applause.

Of course, the real story is much different from what has been described in various congratulatory news releases, and not nearly as encouraging. My guess is that BLM did not want to take this step. Not now, not ever.

Mrs. Pickens first approached BLM more than four years ago about creating a sprawling eco-sanctuary for wild horses. The bureau has listened, somewhat politely; has repeatedly assured Pickens that it sounds like a good idea; has admitted the plan would save a huge amount of money over the long term and would probably create a tourist attraction that would benefit Elko County. Despite those assurances and repeated face-to-face expressions of support, BLM has been unwilling to give Pickens a thumbs up or down on her proposal.

Even after she plunked down more than $6 million to buy two huge ranches near Wells, BLM still would not give her an answer, except when it raised new and ever more complicated hoops for her to jump through.

Pickens has not been shy about criticizing the wild horse program, and she has accused the bureau of being way too cozy with the cattle ranchers it supposedly oversees. As she has pointed out, the BLM not only runs interference for the cattle industry, it is the cattle industry, since many senior BLM managers in the horse program either raise cattle or come from a cattle-ranching background. Cattle ranchers hate the wild horses and the wild horse program. BLM — especially in Nevada, where more than half of all mustangs live — has danced to the cattlemen’s tune, rounding up horses for causing damage to the range that almost certainly was caused by huge herds of cattle, using any pretext to clear horses off of land set aside by law for their preservation. (In just the past two years, more than a million acres in Nevada that was designated by law as habitat for wild horses has been wiped clean of all mustangs, though privately owned cattle were allowed to remain.)

I get the feeling BLM agreed to look into a possible partnership with Pickens through gritted teeth and a forced smile. The news release it issued is — how shall I put this — a bit understated in its description of the proposal. A few months ago, BLM gushed about a public-private partnership in Wyoming, a little 4,000-acre spread that will accept perhaps 250 wild horses if it is approved (compared to Pickens’ spread of 550,000 acres, capable of supporting thousands of mustangs). BLM called the Wyoming plan “a milestone” in the wild horse program, even though it wouldn’t make a dent in the backlog of 40,000 mustangs warehoused in government facilities.

Madeleine Pickens ~ photo by Julie Caramante courtesy of Horseback Magazine

No such words were used to describe the Pickens plan, although it would create an eco-sanctuary with attractions and educational benefits not found in the Wyoming mini-plan. In fact, BLM made a point of saying that there is no deal with Pickens, and that everything is contingent on a two-year environmental study, plus ample opportunity for public comment (meaning ranchers).

So why did BLM finally and reluctantly agree to even study the Pickens plan?

I think Sen. Harry Reid probably ordered them to come to the table. Reid has met with Pickens and her colleague, Jerry Reynoldson (a former aide to Reid), many times and thinks the idea has considerable merit. But he has not thrown his weight around, until recently.

It came to a head some weeks ago, when Reid accompanied Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at a Las Vegas media event to tout tourism promotion in Nevada. Salazar was asked about the Pickens plan as a tourism generator, and his terse answer suggested he either didn’t know much about it or didn’t like it. Sources tell Knappster that once Reid returned to Washington, he decided that Pickens had waited for an answer long enough. I suspect that calls were made to the BLM’s Bob Abbey (who was appointed with Reid’s backing) to find out what the hangup might be. A week later, BLM issued its release.

Elko cattlemen are already squealing about how terrible this will be, about what a mistake it is to turn over this wonderful public range to horses. One opponent of the Pickens plan said it will cost taxpayers because it removes a profitable cattle ranch from the tax rolls.

This is what we in the news biz refer to as “total bullshit.”

The ranches Pickens bought have never been profitable. That’s why they were empty. The range up there does not easily support huge herds of hungry bovines. Much of the range has been brutally overgrazed, eaten down to the dirt, not by mustangs but by cattle. Pickens has already invested millions into gigantic pivots that will grow enough alfalfa to feed the 900 or so mustangs she hopes to receive, to go along with the 600 rescued mustangs living there now. She can afford to spend this kind of money on producing feed, though a rancher worried about his bottom line cannot. That’s why putting mustangs on range once designated for cattle doesn’t hurt cattlemen or anyone else one little bit.

Why BLM can approve the Wyoming plan in less than six months but needs two years to study Pickens’ property is beyond me — but I suspect that a nice, long study will give them time to find a reason to reject the proposal. That’s why proponents of her plan are publicly pleased but privately worried.

The BLM deserves credit for taking this step, even if it was forced to do so. Now let’s see what happens.

GEORGE KNAPP is a Peabody Award-winning investigative reporter for KLAS Channel 8. Reach him at gknapp@klastv.com.

Click (HERE) to Visit Las Vegas City Lights and to Comment

Nevada “Welfare Rancher’s” Anti-Wild Horse and Burro Propaganda Exposed

Guest OpEd by Simone Netherlands

“Good Ole Boy” Mentality out of Touch with the Facts

photo by Terry Fitch

It all started last winter with a self appointed committee the “The Feral Horse Committee of the Nevada Wildlife Commission” which consists of only a handful of “welfare ranchers” who want the wild horses & burros off their leased lands in Nevada. A handful of us were there and when we asked how can you guys feel so darn threatened by the handful of horses, how come you don’t feel so threatened by the deer, or elk or bunnies for that matter? Mike Stremler’s answer was:

“Well you wear nice clothes, how would you like it if my wife came and stole all your clothes out of your closet.”

They feel so falsely entitled to all of the water on our public lands that they feel that the wild horses are actually STEALING their water.  Water that they have rights to but they do not pay for. Water that is on our public lands which they lease for next to nothing, thanks to the American Taxpayer.

Their attempt is to proclaim that WH&B’s are not “wild life” and they are using the state’s water unlawfully, so that they can lawfully fence them off from their water sources.  Their claims are that the horses are feral because their fathers let them go  out on the range approximately 40 to 50 years ago.

The feral horse committee wrote a letter to the state civil engineer who is in charge of water. They then proceeded to find a legislator willing to sponsor this incredibly cruel and evil bill AB329. Unfortunately they sneaked it passed horse advocates so quickly that no one noticed that it was going to a vote in the senate and the bill passed there already. If this bill actually goes through it spells slow dehydration deaths for thousands and thousands of Nevada’s Wild Horses and Burro’s and no one will even notice because these ranchers live way out in the boonies

AB329 will be heard by the “Nevada Senate Natural Resources Committee” at 2144 at 401 S. Carson Street. Carson City, NV. May 13th at 3.30 pm

There will also be a video teleconference set up in Las Vegas where people can watch the meeting as well as testify. It will be in Room 4412E at the Grant Sawyer State Building.

Many horse advocates will be there, but we need every single one of you to keep calling and writing until the session has ended. Please!

Contact info for committee members

Senator Mark Manendo 775-684-6503 mmanendo@sen.state.nv.us

Senator David Parks 775-684-6504  dparks@sen.state.nv.us

Senator John Jay Lee 775-684-1424 jlee@sen.state.nv.us

Senator Dean Rhoads 775-684-1447 drhoads@sen.state.nv.us

Senator Michael Roberson 775-684-1481 mroberson@sen.state.nv.us

Proving the History of Wild Horses and Burro’s in Nevada:

This is an excerpt from a 1906 article in the Montreal Gazette proving that the ranchers are full of self righteous BS and their claim that wild horses are not WILD, is nothing but a cowardly lie in order to attain their cruel agendas.  It reads:

“The traveler often wonders at the large herds of horses found along the lake, seen in the desert along Walker lake below the Walker Indian Reservation. These horses are wild, not range animals gone wild, but wild horses. They are as unrestrained as the horses that once covered the planes with the buffalo and antelope, and no doubt can trace an ancestry free from the hackamore for half a dozen generations back. “

This article was written in 1906 when population in Nevada was almost nonexistent except for the few mining towns like Hawthorne which at that time consisted of 6 house. Long before the cattle ranchers settled there. The writer states that for at least 6 generations these horses have been wild and free, effectively proving their wildness for over 220 years at a very minimum and also proving that thousands of them roamed the planes with the buffalo before white men even settled the continent.

America once was great planes where the buffalo and the horses roamed in peace. There used to be over a million, now we are down to the last 20,000 if even that many; an independent unbiased count has never been done.

These are the last survivors of the BLM policies, the survivors of the poisoning and shooting by the Mustangers, the survivors of hundreds of tough winters and summer droughts. They have evolved into the toughest horse in the world with the most beautiful and amazing natural herd dynamics.  They can survive a lot, but they cannot survive longer than 4 days without water.

The Wild Horses Need You, Now.

You must contact your reps. plus these committee members, plus Harry Reid at 702-388-5020 or Fax him at 702-388-5030  http://reid.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm

Contact Governor Brian Sandoval at 775-684-5670 or his Fax is 775-684-5683.

Tell the governor that you expect him to Veto this bill should it make it to his desk. Don’t be fooled if they say that this only pertains to private land as that is simply not the case it is public lands that are in question here.

His email is  http://nv.gov/govforms.aspx?ekfrm=4294969014

Call the White House and complain as well, that number is 202-456-1111

Horse Eater Party Turns Into Record FLOP

Story by Steven Long ~ Author/Publisher of Horseback Magazine

Wallis and Duquette Fail Miserably

After months of hype and frantic email promotion fewer than 200 traveled to snowy Las Vegas the first Monday in January to talk about saving the horse industry by reigniting the contentious issue of horse processing likely for human consumption in foreign markets.

At a kickoff dinner Monday evening less than 70 braved the cold to attend what was billed in advance as a national meeting of the horse industry.

Tuesday, on the very day President Obama signed potent new legislation giving the federal Food and Drug Administration authority over the nation’s meat supply, about 30 speakers quoted disputed numbers of abandoned horses not supported by law enforcement records.

“Never before in the annals of history has so much been misrepresented about so many by so few,” said John Holland, president of the Chicago based Equine Welfare Alliance, who watched the event on a video feed.  One Las Vegas television station described Summit attendance as being in the dozens.

Many in the sparse crowd who traveled to Las Vegas South Point Hotel and Casino for a meeting styled “The Summit of the Horse” were ranchers who last year decried inspections and paperwork required by the USDA’s ill fated NAIS program which was abandoned after massive protests from horse owners and agriculture. The new FDA rules will force horse owners to send chemical free horses to slaughter if the group’s hoped for slaughterhouses are ever built. A question never raised at the Summit was whether the U.S. would move to a meat animal passport system if horse processing were again made legal. In some European countries, horses are required to have a passport that follows them for life showing them to be chemical free. Such is the case for all European horses bound for slaughter. Virtually all domestic American horses would fail the test for dangerous chemical contamination because of the routine administration of bute, wormers, banamine, and other substances which remain in the carcass of an animal for life. Under current FDA rules, bute is strictly prohibited in food animals and there are no provisions under FDA rules for a decontamination period as was repeatedly suggested by speakers at the summit.

Even the once protected Mustangs under the management of the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are not chemical free. Mares returned the range are administered birth control and the horses moved to holding are wormed and treated with bute for their injuries. In addition, the European Union prohibits all wild equidae meat except zebra. BLM’s director, Bob Abbey was a keynote speaker at the summit which stated its primary purpose was to make horse slaughter for human consumption legal in the United States. Abbey stated in no uncertain terms that the slaughter of wild horses is off the table, a direct slap in the face to summit organizers.

The BLM holds tens of thousands of wild horses in captivity. These horses, frequently acclaimed as symbols of the freedom of America, were protected under the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act. But in an 11th hour bit of politics immediately before the congress took its Christmas break a rider attached to the 2005 appropriations bill by former Montana Sen. Conrad Burns, with the help of Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, removed those protections. BLM promptly enacted a rule stating that older, unadoptable horses, could be sold without limitation to the public. Wild horse advocates charge that the likely market is the “killer buyers” of the slaughter industry which is now located in Mexico and Canada.

Click (HERE) to Read the Story in It’s Entirety

National Call-in Day For the Horses

Tuesday Oct 19th ~ Mark Your Calenders

The above organizations, along with our own SFTHH and HfHAC, have joined together to ask you to call on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, October 19th and ask her to schedule a vote NOW on The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 503) legislation to ban the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. Schedule the vote NOW. Tell her she has the power to end immense suffering by scheduling the vote NOW during the remaining session of Congress THIS YEAR!  NOW is the time for her to step up and do this. Tell Speaker Pelosi that this bill has 183 bipartisan cosponsors in the House, 28 in the Senate, and tremendous public support.

After you call Speaker Pelosi, 202.225.0100 or her San Francisco office, 415.556.4862, call on Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid 702.388.5020 / Fax: 702.388.5030, and Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Dick Durbin 202.224.2152 or fax 202.228.0400 to schedule a vote on the senate version, S.B. 727.

Don’t wait. Do it now. For the horses.

For additional information please visit Animal Law Coalition here:


Nevada Struggles with Finding Equine Friendly Leaders

Guest OpEd by Arlene Gawne

Election D-Day is Coming and Few Choices in Nevada

Photog Terry Fitch and all of the "Happy" horses at BLM's Palomino Valley Concentration Camp ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

In Nevada, in just a few weeks’ time, we citizens have to choose between two Senatorial candidates – incumbent Senator Harry Reid or his challenger, Sharron Angle. Now if you are a wild horse advocate that is a rotten choice! Why you may ask? Let’s begin with Mrs. Angle. When I personally spoke to Sharron Angle months ago about the terrible demise of the wild herds in our state and the loss of potential eco-tourism jobs, she clenched her fists and said for the sake of full disclosure, her husband had worked for the BLM in Tonopah for many decades and that those horses were starving on that range, and it was a good thing that the BLM pulled them off. And if I wanted to see wild horses in good condition I should go to the Palomino adoption facility near Reno NV and see how much better off they were there. Well I have heard quite a few negative things about that facility and its’ care of wild horses, but Mrs. Angle closed the discussion by walking off, angry it seemed.

So Sharron Angle does not impartially relate to the various sides of the wild horse & burro issues such why our national heritage – those drastically reduced herds of wild horses and burros living on public land at less than 1 animal per 1,300 football fields – deserve a fair share of public land where they can live in natural family bands, move seasonally for appropriate forage and water without competing with private livestock, running into cattle fences or crossing unfenced horse management areas and thereby becoming “estray horses” to be sold to slaughterhouse buyers. Nor does Sharron Angle appear to realize that there is an international as well as national market of visitors prepared to pay good dollars to see free-roaming wild herds in the beautiful state of Nevada. Visitors will come to see wild horses but stay to enjoy our rural scenery, history, cafes, cowboy poets, to mention but a few things we have to offer. In other words, wild horse eco-tourism means desperately needed new jobs for rural and urban Nevada.

That leaves me to consider the incumbent Senator Harry Reid, and here I flounder. I and others have spoken at length to Senator Reid’s staff about ecotourism and a fair share of public range to no effect. I have spoken directly to Senator Reid about the extreme number of wild horses being removed from Nevada public land in 2010 alone. By BLM admission, at least 4,023 of Nevada’s horses will be removed and only 1,726 returned to the public land with all returning mares on contraceptives, at a skewed ratio of 40 mares to 60 stallions and not in pre-existing family bands with mature band stallions or lead mares knowledgeable in water, forage and safety on their range. Furthermore, in the very ranges were horses were deemed excessive in number or suffering without water, private livestock numbers have been increased e.g the Calico HMAs, NV and water was found in abundance e.g.Tuscarora HMAs, NV. After I mentioned that helicopter chases cost tens of millions to taxpayers and prove deadly to many horses, Senator Reid soothed me with statements that he too hates to see the wild horses in holding pens and he is working with Madeline Pickens to bring those horses back to Nevada. Well that will be news to her. Madeline Pickens has not benefited by his “co-operation” as the BLM has been procrastinating for over two years on her proposed wild horse sanctuary.  Crocodile tears do not impress me any longer, not in struggling Las Vegas where we need to diversify our tourism base so that jumbo jets from Europe and Asia will bring visitors who want to enjoy our Wild Herds Wild in our West. Senator Reid does not try to rein in the bloated and free-spending Dept. of the Interior bureaucracy or its leader, Secretary Ken Salazar.  Indeed, Senator Reid did not use his impressive power in the current administration to put a moratorium on costly roundups when we taxpayers lack the tax revenue to provide for those horses in captivity. That makes me wonder if there really is great truth in former Senator Burns declaration that Harry Reid helped him write the 2004 Amendment that gutted the 1971 Free-Roaming Wild Horses & Burros Act after it was slipped unnoticed into an appropriations bill just before midnight.

So can anyone suggest an intelligent, honest write-in candidate for Nevada Senatorial race this November? I am all ears.

Fortunately there is one Nevada candidate that has consistently stood up for potential wild horse eco-tourism jobs and the need to protect our vanishing wild horses & burros. That’s our incumbent Representative Dina Titus who is in a close race for Nevada’s Third Congressional Seat with Joe Heck. Dina has been a refreshing change from most Nevadan politicians and I am eager to cast my vote for her. I haven’t heard Joe Heck deliver any ideas for wild horse & burro protection.

If only Dina could be the write-in candidate for the Senate – that less than illustrious body that consistently stalls wild horse & burro protection bills and approves massive annual budget increases for BLM roundups and  incarceration of wild horses. Too bad senators weren’t limited to 2 year terms and had to face our public anger regularly. Please pass me the BIG bottle of aspirin.

Arlene Gawne

FAX: (702) 838-1009

Shouts of “Wild and Free, Let Them Be” From Protestors of Obama Administration Wild Horse Policy

Global Protests Point Finger at Obama’s Continued Effort to Remove Wild Horses from Public Lands

Actress and Wild Horse Advocate Mariana Tosca

CHICAGO, (EWA) – March 25 will be remembered by equine advocates across the United States and the United Kingdom as the day the international cries for the wild horses and burros were raised loud and clear.

Rallies held in Washington, DC, London, England, Las Vegas, NV and Los Angeles, CA culminated with a report on CNN that exposed the propaganda being fed to the public by the Department of Interior (DOI) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The video footage of the “starving” horses was released on a prime time report and left no doubt, the rationale given for the round-ups is pure fiction.

Mariana Tosca, Actor and Social Activist, was among the advocates attending the Los Angeles rally. Ms. Tosca delivered an impassioned speech that moved the crowd to tears. Ms. Tosca commented, “It is an honor to stand united with the citizens of our global community to bring attention to this urgent matter, which being left virtually unchecked is eroding the landscape of our national heritage.”

Singer Maria Daines and Actress Melita Morgan in London

The London rally took place outside the US Embassy. In attendance were Maria Daines, Singer/Songwriter and Melita Morgan, International Actress. Melita Morgan commented on the rally, “After working hard on our Mustang Mission, I hope we are very rewarded by all of our combined efforts, that have made such a difference. All these efforts long term will open eyes, tune ears and turn heads as to the plight of these very precious horses. Just being at Grosvener Square on that day, in front of The American Embassy in the grounds amongst the statues and words of great U.S Presidents of the past, gave me such food for thought. It brought to mind the words of Dwight David Eisenhower’s first Inaugural Address on January 20, 1953 – ‘The faith we hold belongs not to us alone, but to the free of all the world.’”

Maria Daines added, “There is danger in removing the beauty of living nature from its natural surroundings. For when the last horse is rounded-up, then shall we look back and regret that we could not live and let live, not even for the sake of the generations that will come after us, who will never know what it is we lost and how careless we were to lose it.”

Actress Wendie Malick in DC on steps of Dept. of Interior Bldg. - Photo by Terry Fitch

Despite high winds, the Las Vegas rally was a huge success. Advocate Arlene Gawne commented that 500 petition cards were signed along with great coverage from KLAS-TV8. A smaller group of advocates continued the rally on Saturday at the opening of the Clark County Shooting Center and received honks of approval from event attendees. Senator Harry Reid commented that he supported Madeleine Pickens in her efforts for a western home for the captured horses and it was terrible how the horses were being penned.

The Washington DC protest moved from Lafayette Park to the steps of the DOI building. As the rally was winding down, the mounted police arrived. One can’t help but wonder if they were sent for crowd control or came to stand in silent protest with equine advocates. Proudly standing amongst the crowd were the living examples of why advocates are calling for an end to the slaughter of domestic and wild horses. Our horses are not food animals and deserve a humane end to their lives after racing, serving, performing, working or inspiring us as we provide for all non-food animals in our country.

The majestic horses under their mounts spoke volumes of the important role horses play in our society and throughout the history of mankind.

The Equine Welfare Alliance is a dues free, umbrella organization with over 100 member organizations. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids.

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Wild Horse Outrage Greets President Obama in Vegas

Written by Simone Netherlands and Elyse Gardner

(©Photography by Elyse Gardner, Craig Downer, Simone Netherlands and friends)

Wild Horse Advocates ask the President to say “NEIGH” to BLM Round-ups

LAS VEGAS (SFTHH) – It seems people are very serious about saving the lives and freedom of America’s wild horses and stopping the gruesome practice of horse slaughter, where many of our wild mustangs still end their lives in terror together with over one hundred thousand domestic horses yearly.

Wildlife ecologist Craig Downer and humane observer Elyse Gardner certainly are, and they came to Las Vegas to join wildlife photographer Arlene Gawne (for Cloud foundation) and horse trainer Simone Netherlands (for Respect4horses), plus over 50 other brave horse welfare advocates. In the crowded city of Las Vegas, their spirits were as one while standing up together for all horses, as they carried out one of the largest protests on record against the BLM and against horse slaughter.

As President Obama arrived in Las Vegas for a historic visit, he was greeted by protesters on several legs of his missions here, and on his way back to Air force one, he got a real good look at the banners going only 5 miles an hour around a corner, where protesters were strategically positioned. When Obama was still a Senator, he was a cosponsor of the ban on horse slaughter. Now that he could easily do something about the BLM and about the horse slaughter bill, he has not so much as said a word about it.

Drivers honked and pedestrians signed petitions as people from all over the country as well as other countries made strong statements calling for the Obama administration to support the ban on horse slaughter and to put an immediate halt to the roundups and give America’s horses their small, rightful share of our vast resources of public land. At several stops during the day, interviews were recorded by several news stations. KlaAS TV 8, ABC 13 and Channel 8.

First Stop: From 1:30 to 4:00 p.m, wild horse defenders gathered in front of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Las Vegas, home to Senator John Ensign and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. This protest was well attended by the public and media as Reno’s KLAS-8 filmed protesters as well as the opening talk given by Elyse Gardner, as well as the smallest and cutest protestor of all.

Second stop: After this people disbursed all across the Las Vegas Strip, handing out information and gathering petition signatures.  Locations where from the New York New York Hotel, to the Fashion Show Mall, to overpasses, to Caesars Palace.

Around 6pm mayhem ensued as word was heard that president Obama was arriving. We all hurried in our cars and split up to each side of MCarran airport.

One set of Protesters, spear headed by Gina were able to be in front of Obama’s limo and display the banners. The other group was at a location where 2 news stations interviewed with Craig Downer, Elyse Gardner and Simone Netherlands.

An interesting little tit bit of information was disclosed by a Mr. Nick, former feedlot owner hired by the BLM, now BLM opponent.  According to him the reason that the BLM has executed the Calico round up during the winter months instead of in September as was originally on their schedule, is that they hired a “buddy” to receive the Calico horses, (to fatten his pockets with our tax dollars) and this “buddy” did not have his feedlot even built or ready for the horses until December. They simply could not round them up until the feedlot was finally built. This information is from a first hand reliable source and it certainly explains a lot, doesn’t it?

After all the excitement and running around we ended the day with a wonderful home made dinner at Arlene’s house. She is the most gracious wonderful host, savvy business woman, and an incredible new asset to the horse welfare advocacy movement. Our profound thanks go out to her for her incredible enthusiasm and organization. Also many thanks and hugs to all wonderful volunteers, too many to name them all, but you know who you are.

The next day, on Feb 19th, President Obama was leaving Las Vegas. To top off the successful event, with a little luck and a little help from higher up, we were able to present the banners right in front of his face when he turned into the small back road to Air Force one. He must think by now that we are a very efficient and especially very large organized bunch, ha.

Needless to say, we all feel renewed hope and excitement with the outcome of this giant combined effort to spread awareness against horse cruelty, not only advertised to the American people and to many tourists of the world, but to Mr. President Obama himself.

P.S. Mr Harry Reid has asked one of our volunteers how many Nevadans exactly are against the roundups. She would like to ask for everyone’s help in letting him know exactly how many. So let’s place some (but hopefully many) phone calls and faxes to his office for a while especially with the pressure of election time.

For additional Pictures and Photos visit The Cloud Foundation’s Blog

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Congressional Committee Will Call for Moratorium on Gathers

by Laura Allen, Executive Director, Animal Law Coalition


BLM contractor's chopper running Pryor Mountain horses into trap

Update Nov. 2, 2009: A Congressional staff member has confirmed to Animal Law Coalition that the House Natural Resources Committee is calling on BLM to stop all gathers or removals of wild horses and burros until Congress takes action on the controversial issues surrounding the wild horses and burros.

A Congressional staff member told Animal Law Coalition, “It is my understanding that BLM has 11 more roundups planned for 2009 and is expecting to remove more than 6,000 horses.  This is unacceptable especially in light of the fact that these roundups are not based on science.”

Support the House Natural Resources Committee’s call for a moratorium! Write or call your U.S. representative and senators and urge them to support a moratorium pending decisions by Congress on the role of the BLM and the course of the wild horses and burros program.  Copy the Committee on any fax or letter to your representative and senators so they can see your support for a moratorium!

For more information, read Animal Law Coalition’s call for a Congressional investigation and moratorium on gathers!

Original report: It’s time for a public Congressional hearing and investigation of BLM’s management of America’s wild horses and burros including the new plan recently announced by DOI and BLM.

In the meantime and pending decisions about the course of the wild horse and burro program, there should be a moratorium on gathers.

On October 7, 2009 Dept. of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey announced a new 3 part plan for managing America’s wild horses and burros in the future. But, other than a press release and a letter to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the specifics of the plan have not been made public. As Mr. Abbey said in the press conference held on Oct. 7, 2009, there are “thousands” of wild horse and burro enthusiasts who care about the fate of these animals. There are also innumerable experts and citizens concerned about BLM’s management of these American icons.


Victims of recent Pryor Mountain "gather" - Free one moment, imprisoned the next

There should be a public hearing and investigation held by Congress regarding BLM’s management of America’s wild horses and burros particularly before yet another plan essentially approved only by BLM and DOI is put in place. There should be a moratorium on all gathers until Congress has completed public hearings and an investigation and reached a decision about the appropriate management of these animals consistent with the laws that protect them. These are after all America’s wild horses and burros.

The Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFRHBA) directs BLM to manage America’s wild horses and burros to “maintain free roaming behavior”. All management activities by law are to be at the “minimal feasible level“. Under WFRHBA America’s wild horses and burros are entitled to humane treatment and to remain free from “capture, …harassment, or death“.

But, instead, the BLM largely manages these animals by running them down with helicopters and gathering or removing them from public lands to holding facilities, separating families, injuring and even killing horses in the process. A terrifying ordeal that leaves wild horses and burros in holding pens where few are adopted, many are sold for slaughter and still more languish, their spirits and bodies broken. The operation of holding facilities will consume about 70% of the total 2009 budget for these animals.

Surely, that is contrary, to say the least, to the directive of the WFRHBA. Indeed, U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer found in her August 5, 2009 opinion: “It would be anomalous to infer that by authorizing the custodian of the wild-free roaming horses and burros to manage them, Congress intended to permit the animals’ custodian to subvert the primary policy of the statute by capturing and removing from the wild the very animals that congress sought to protect from being removed from the wild. Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition, Inc. v. Salazar, No. 06-1609 (D.D.C 2009)

Mr. Salazar insists that “arid western lands and watersheds” can’t support the few wild horses that remain “without significant damage to the environment” and “degrading public lands”.  These are reasons typically stated by BLM in its environmental assessments and environmental impact statements to support removals of wild horses and burros from herd areas. And, just as typically, there are no specifics to support these claims. For more examples….

Indeed, Mr. Salazar and BLM do not mention the thousands of cattle grazing and drinking and fouling water on these lands, BLM’s land sales, development, increasing recreational use, and mining as well diversion of water from herd areas. Wildlife ecologists say if public lands are “degraded”, something that is disputed, these factors are far more to blame. In fact, citizens living in the areas where there are wild horses and burros, including small ranchers, contradict BLM’s assessments the range is “degraded” or lacks sufficient water for these few remaining animals.


A BLM sign that the Public must obey, but the BLM ignors!

Note that in 1990 BLM claimed the range was the best it had been in the last century. Yet, since then, there has been an increase in the numbers of wild horses and burros removed from the range. There is also no question BLM has routinely renewed grazing permits, finding the range satisfactory for grazing cattle and at the same time, issue environmental assessments that claim the very same range cannot support the few wild horses and burros that remain. BLM has also relied on outdated or what can only be called completely false assessments in its apparent zeal to justify removal of wild horses and burros.

Shouldn’t Congress at least have a hearing or investigate whether BLM’s claims are true? Shouldn’t Congress consider whether BLM should even continue as the manager of the wild horses and burros program? An agency that has turned the WFRHBA on its head and instead of managing to maintain free roaming behavior, does so by removing and penning wild horses and burros.

It is also questionable whether BLM really has the authority, as it claims, to manage America’s wild horses and burros in all respects pursuant to a multiple use concept. Though WFRHBA mentions “multiple-use relationship” in connection with specified ranges, it is very clear that the directive is to manage these animals otherwise only to “maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands” and “protect the natural ecological balance of all wildlife species which inhabit such lands, particularly endangered wildlife species“.

In effect, WFRHBA authorizes only limited interference with wild horses and burros in herd areas where they were living in 1971. Nothing about removing wild horses and burros from herd areas where they lived in 1971 to allow multiple use such as cattle grazing, recreation for off road vehicles, mining or development. Also, protecting the ecological balance of all wildlife has never meant rounding up and removing whole species. Especially when there is a law that explicitly protects their right to exist in historic herd areas.

Even designated ranges managed under a multiple use concept are to be “devoted principally” to wild horses and burros. The wild horses and burros on these lands are not to be eliminated for cattle or mining or recreation or even secondary to these other uses.


Carol Walker, Elyse Gardener and Ginger Kathrens observe "processing" from a distance

Despite the limited authority to interfere with wild horses and burros under WFRHBA, the BLM has decided, however, the multiple public use concept applies to all herd areas as well as ranges. BLM even issued a regulation that effectively rewrites WFRHBA to say the “objectives of these regulations are management of wild horses and burros as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands under the principle of multiple use“. 43 CFR § 4700.0-2 Yet, the WFRHBA says only that wild horses and burros “are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands“. 16 U.S.C. §1331.

The BLM has also authorized itself to divide herd areas into “herd management areas“, something not authorized by WFRHBA. 43 CFR 4710.3-1. In this way, with no statutory authority at all, BLM has limited wild horses and burros’ access to thousands of acres that were historically their herd areas. This is done without thought about the horses’ seasonal migration patterns or available resources. The BLM then removes wild horses and burros from the artificially created “herd management areas” on the basis there is insufficient forage, water or habitat! BLM also targets them for removal if they cross the artificial boundaries into their original herd areas.

While BLM has authorized itself to create divide herd areas into Herd Management Areas, its own regulations provide that “management of wild horses and burros shall be undertaken with the objective of limiting the animals’ distribution to herd areas, 43 C.F.R. § 4710.4.”Herd area” is defined by regulation as “the geographic area identified as having been used by a herd as its habitat in 1971,” 43 C.F.R. §4710.4.

Another example of BLM’s erosion of the WFRHBA protections is the rewording of the WFRHBA mandate “[a]ll management activities shall be at the minimal feasible level“. BLM’s regulation says “[m]anagement shall be at the minimum level necessary to attain the objectives identified in approved land use plans and herd management area plans.” 43 CFR 4710.4, 16 U.S.C. §1333. Two very different laws. So if a land use plan authorizes a land giveaway or increased recreation or mining, “management…at a minimum level” can mean round up and removal, according to the BLM.

The Federal Land Policy Management Act requires management of public lands under concepts of multiple use and sustained yield. 43 U.S.C. §§ 1701, et seq.  But the multiple use concept does not trump the WFRHBA protections for wild horses.  In fact, the statute makes clear that the protections under WFRHBA take precedence. FLPMA, 43 U.S.C. § 1732 (a) Yet, despite this, BLM has issued a regulation that provides “[w]ild horses and burros shall be considered comparably with other resource values in the formulation of land use plans.” 43 C.F.R. §4700.0-6(b).

The BLM’s land use plans make clear that contrary to WFRHBA, it does not decide to remove wild horses and burros only to maintain a “thriving natural ecological balance to the range, and protect the range from the deterioration associated with overpopulation“. Nor are the protected wild horse ranges “devoted principally” to the use of wild horses and burros. Instead, the BLM clearly embraces the multiple use concept for all lands designated for wild horses and burros.  Indeed, the plan seems to be to eliminate or zero out the wild horses and burros in favor of increased development and recreational use, mining, and cattle.


Cloud, captured during botched Labor Day Pryor Mountain gather

Surely, BLM’s fast and loose interpretation of the WFRHBA is more than sufficient for Congress to take a look, hold a public hearing and investigate before America’s icon is lost forever.

It should be noted that BLM has also virtually ignored the directive in the WFRHBA to “maintain a current inventory of wild free-roaming horses and burros on given areas of the public lands“. 16 U.S.C. §1333(b). According to WFRHBA, the inventory is critical in determining appropriate management levels or AML and whether there is indeed an overpopulation or excess horses and burros. Yet, BLM has gathered and removed thousands of horses without the important information necessary to determine if the removal is legal. It’s time to take a look, an independent census and standardize AML determinations.

It is important for Congress to open up for public review the work of an agency that has operated largely in secret, offering the public generally pre-determined courses of action, making a joke out of the public comment process. It is also time BLM or whatever agency that is put in charge of the wild horses and burros took seriously the WFRHBA mandate requiring consultation not with special interests but also a range of independent experts recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, the states and those with  “scientific expertise and special knowledge of wild horse and burro protection…[and] wildlife management“. 16 U.S.C. §1333(b).

Congress should hold public hearings and investigate Secretary Salazar’s plan in particular. There are innumerable experts outside of the BLM who should have an opportunity to weigh in on how BLM continues to manage America’s wild horses and burros.

Secretary Salazar delivered the following 3 part proposal to Sen. Reid: 1. BLM will work with non-profits and the “thousands” of wild horse enthusiasts to create sanctuaries and preserves in the Midwest or east. In fact, BLM appears to have already decided on sever preserves. It is not known who is involved in these transactions or how BLM decided on these preserves. Surely, the public is entitled to know how this happened. Mr. Salazar says tourism would be encouraged and could provide a source of revenue.  But the mandate of the WFRHBA is to avoid such zoo-like settings for these American icons. The idea, the law, in fact, is that these animals are to remain free to roam on the public lands where they were living in 1971 when the Act went into effect.

2.  Mr. Salazar will designate more ranges for wild horses. He cited the Pryor Mountain herd, recently rounded up and decimated, as an example of a range under BLM protection.

3.  This is one of the most troubling aspects of Mr. Salazar and Mr. Abbey’s plan. They say BLM will work to restore the “sustainability” of herds and public lands. BLM will continue to round up and remove horses but step up “fertility control”, monitor sex ratios, and introduce non-reproducing herds.  More like BLM will work toward the extinction of herds.  The obvious concern is how a herd that is non-reproducing or sterilized can remain self-sustaining, genetically viable, as mandated by law. There are serious questions here about BLM’s determination of sex ratios. These proposals will have a very negative effect on herds and herd behavior. This plan euphemistically referred to as “restoring sustainability” during the press conference, is, in fact, the opposite, a plan to exterminate the wild horses and burros and in doing so, create great chaos and suffering in the herds. In effect, this plan raises real concerns about compliance with WFRHBA’s mandate that BLM should manage these animals to maintain “free-roaming behavior” and a “thriving natural ecological balance” in herd areas.

There are also growing concerns about the effectiveness and use of the contraceptive, PZP, particularly in view of its effect on herd behavior and dangerous side effects such as out of season foals.

These plans likely stem from BLM’s secret discussions that began in July, 2008 about ways to eliminate wild horses through unlimited slaughter, killing, manipulation of sex ratios, sterilization of mares, creation of gelding herds and the like. It is telling that here there is no promise in this plan to stop the slaughter of these wild animals or killing of healthy animals. There is no promise to stop the round ups, the decimation of herds, the brutal treatment of America’s wild horses and burros in holding facilities.

During its discussions in the past year BLM considered ways to keep the public away from round ups and the killing of healthy horses and burros and planned to brand protests as “eco-terrorism”.  This was all to be done in secret. If Congress does not hold a hearing, investigate this plan and this agency, BLM will have succeeded.


The wild horses and burros can be saved. There has to be a better way to manage these animals other than by hiring criminals to run them down with helicopters and penning some for life and sending others to slaughter. The WFRHBA requires them to be protected in their herd areas where they were living in 1971. And that is what the BLM should do.

Find and contact your U.S. senators here and urge them to hold a hearing or investigate BLM’s management of America’s wild horses and burros and tell the BLM to stop rounding up and killing or removing our wild horses and burros or selling them for slaughter and return them to the lands where they were living in 1971.

Go here to write your U.S. representative and urge him or her to do the same!


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Cloud Capture Draws Capitol Attention

by Steven Long

U.S. Senator Eyes Removing Agency’s Mustang Oversight

HOUSTON (Horseback) – The hasty labor day “gather” of the iconic equine star of the PBS “Nature” series, Cloud, has sparked interest and consternation from coast to coast as wild horse lovers rally to put a halt to Bureau of Land Management “gathers” on the nation’s public lands.

Cloud, and several members of his herd, in captivity 9/8/09 Photo by R.T. Fitch

Cloud, and several members of his herd, in captivity 9/8/09 Photo by R.T. Fitch

Several horses, including Cloud, were released lame after being chased down a 5,000 foot mountain by a low flying helicopter. The famed Mustang’s popular image has been celebrated in two best selling reproductions by Breyer. A third set of the collectables will be released in time for the Christmas shopping season.

Only 120 members of the herd will be allowed by the BLM to remain in this area of Montana’s Pryor Mountain wilderness encompassing nearly 40,000 acres. The BLM currently claims to hold 33,000 horses captured in gathers in holding pens. No outside agency has been allowed to do a census.

Protests are planned for a meeting of the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board in Washington September 28-29. Protests

Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, a horsewoman, said that if the BLM doesn’t change its ways and stop the gathers and helicopter stampedes she is considering supporting legislation to remove management of wild horses from the agency.

“She’s really fed up with the BLM right now and she’s thought about maybe possibly moving the (wild horse) program from them to another agency,” the Landrieu aide told Horseback Magazine. “That goes to show her frustration with how this program is mismanaged

“The GAO put out a report last year citing the utter mismanagement of this program,” she said. “They spend three fourths of the BLM budget on this program, and as you know, they run a whole slew of other programs.”

Landrieu serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with provides oversight for America’s public lands.

Key senators besides Landrieu who will influence the nation’s wild horse policy are New Mexico’s Jeff Bingeman, California’s Diane Feinstein, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada,  the aide said.

Reid, an enabler of the hated Burns Amendment which removed protection from wild horses has expressed concerned regarding the Restoring our American Mustangs Act, or ROAM. In the past the senator, who polls indicate is highly unpopular in his home state, has been no friend of wild horses. He is in a tight race for re-election.

In minutes of meetings of BLM managers secreted out of the agency earlier in the year, discussions of the euthanasia of thousands of horses captured in gathers were held. The talks were prompted by an agency running out of funds to operate its wild horse program. In the discussions, the prospect of psychiatric counseling of veterinarians who would perform the killing of innocent horses was discussed. The disposal of thousands of horse carcasses was also studied by the agency.

When news of the planned equicide leaked it provoked a tidal wave of anger at the agency among horse lovers and the general public prompting the agency to put the killing on hold.

Critics say wild horses have lived off the land just like moose, elk, antelope, big horn sheep, and deer without serious depletion of the herds for hundreds of years because of natural selection. Yet despite their wild status in fact and American lore, the agency doesn’t classify the equines as wildlife which would enjoy protection.

The aide, who declined to be identified, said the likely agency the senator would target for new management responsibilities for wild horses should Landrieu move in that direction would be the National Park Service because of an excellent record handling a limited number of wild horses that agency already oversees.

The BLM, along with the U.S. Forest Service, is currently required by law to manage wild horses on public land.


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