Horse News

BLM’s Abbey Takes Fox in Hen House Approach to Humane Observer Issue

by Steven Long, Editor and Publisher of “Horseback Magazine

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – In a letter to Emmy Award winning documentary Filmmaker Ginger Kathrens after a query about a BLM offer to allow humane observers, the agency’s director, Bob Abbey, responded that the agency would choose them. The BLM is mired in scandal after the deaths of scores of horses following a stampede induced by a roaring helicopter.

Ms. Kathrens:

It is our intention to have impartial observers at the Fallon facility and we hope to have them in place soon. We have been working with reputable organizations to reach agreements so that we will have qualified people serving in this role. Once we have an agreement in place, we will inform you of the details. I have also requested that our office post updated reports on the BLM website regarding the condition of the horses at the Fallon facility.

Thanks for your continued interest in the care of our nation’s wild horses.

Bob Abbey

Kathrens responded, saying essentiall, thanks, but no thanks.

Dear Director Abbey;

Thank you for responding. This is not at all what we have in mind, however. Our hope is that humane observers for the wild horses who represent them will be allowed to observe the Fallon processing. I don’t feel this is too much to ask for considering the enormous taxpayer expense of this whole operation. It is costing over $10,000 a day to house the wild horses in this facility and this is taxpayer money.

Please reconsider this position and open this facility to qualified and reputable members of the concerned public who represent the wild horses. Wild horse advocates are not irresponsible folks who are out to get you. They are caring people who love wild horses and want the best for them. If there is nothing to hide then why won’t you allow advocates for the animals into the facility? Thanks again for taking the time to write. We welcome any meaningful dialogue with your office.


R.T.’s Opinion – “These are, perhaps, the scenes that Bob Abbey may not want the General Public to see.  Below is Laura Leigh’s video documentary of the cruel chopper chases, at Calico, that resulted in the deaths of many wild horses.  Half way through this video is the extended version of the Cattoor Chopper Attack on the small foal who later died from having it’s hooves run off in the stampede. This is NOT for the faint of heart!”

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46 replies »

  1. The issue of citizen/advocate observers will not go away anymore than our struggle to free our wild ones. Thanks to all who have, like Ginger, stated it directly to the people who have control of this issue. There should also be freedom of the press to be present and they have been thwarted. Neither decision is what the public wants. Americans who are waking up to the violence against our wild herds are shocked and want it stopped. BLM has denied us the freedom of observation because they will not change their methods. So we will stand up to them for change until it is forthcoming. You can hear Laura begin to cry as she films this and you may well be in tears by that point also. Yet, watching the relentless pushing and pushing of the horses as their movements become more painful, choppy and stumbling shows clearly the deadly force of the use of helicopters with abusive pilots who think their skill is efficient. Unfortunately they are skillful and efficient killers. IMO. mar


  2. This is the BLM trying their BEST to make a round-up look good under the public eye!! yet they run to death many mustangs causing road founder and miscarrage!!

    One can only imagine how many mustangs the BLM has run to death when NOT in the public eye.

    my God how many mustangs over the last many years were run to death.

    we will never know as the helicoptor companys wife said in one of her text posting the contractors NEVER kept track of deaths.


    • This is sad but real. I have always wanted to go into the field after each roundup and find the bodies (and survivors) to acknowledge that they died and add them to the other deaths that occur to be recognized. If you read “Our Sheldon Horses” by Laura Leigh you will learn the impact of a summer roundup with small foals who were run to death and others who were hog tied and left to die. Some were rescued but the survival rate after severe dehydration is next to none. There are no successful roundups with helicopters as there is always a horse who is harmed or traumatized. The pilots are criminal in their actions and should lose their licenses, in my opinion… mar


  3. Excuse me….Mr Abbutt!!!!!

    Didn’t you authorize a Mr. McNabbem’ unfettered access? That then peddled his wares on RFD?

    ACLU…where are you? People can’t watch a government, nonsecurity enterprise…with releases in tow?

    Talk about trashing the constitution! Sue ’em…sue ’em now with an access immediate stipulation. Where are all the great legal minds…chasin’ ambulances?

    What a suckin’ baby cheat! And Washington let’s this gore go on!


  4. I agree – it is AMAZING to me that, even though this is but a fraction of the truth about the BLM, it’s getting reasonable media coverage and there is STILL nothing from Washington or the masses in general. I cannot understand why it seems to be OK to abuse horses but not other animals. Everyone SAYS they love horses, but yet they sit on their butts and let something like this continue on without doing a thing.

    Are all these people BRAIN DEAD?


  5. I can’t watch this video, I am crying just thinking about it. I have seen the shorter version and wish I hadnt. One of the TV channels is featuring a programme, will try to watch for a ad for it today again, where they are asking questions about things like, why are xxxx million tax payers dollars being wasted on certain condom research, and why are xxx dollars going into several other projects. I need to look for it because one of the questions was animal related. Hell it is peanuts compared to what the BLM is using of the tax payers’ dollars for the Mustang torture. If they can have a big outcry about these small things then surely we can get someone there interested. Wish I had made note of the details when I saw them but will get onto it now and try to find it.


  6. Laura Leigh, It is wonderful that you bring this to us. I feel for you that you suffered this for the rest of us. Please know you are doing good and that I appreciate your every effort on behalf of the wild horses.


  7. “Dear Mr. Abbey,
    You said it, Son. OUR NATION’S HORSES. MINE. Not exclusively YOURS. ALL of US.
    Who do you report to , Mr. Abbey? Who does your boss report to, Mr. Abbey? And, theoretically, who do you all report to?
    When did the Bureau of Land Management become a Republic of it’s own? If this is the case, then why not simply divest yourself and your Bureau of the thankless task of ‘mamaging’ Wild and Captive Wild Equines and put it into the hands of people BETTER QUALIFIED, people who have no agenda other than the health and welfare of the Wild Equines?
    We, the People (I’ve heard that somewhere before…) can take the ten’s of millions of dollars earmarked for the Equine Program so your Bureau can concentrate on what matters most – cattle and mining. Because it’s become glaringly apparent, over these last few months, that the WH&B Management program is simply too difficult and unimportant for the Bureau to administer in the fashion proscribed by the Act, except as it regards the ridiculously overinflated budget.
    C’mon, Bob, You don’t even like Wild Equines. You won’t face the Public; you set out sissy-tough little stock boys like McNabb to do the facing for you. We can do the job and do it well.
    Anyway, just a suggestion. Since they are the NATION’S Wild Equines.
    Have a great day.
    Lisa LeBlanc, Citizen, P.O.’d Taxpayer and Wild Equine Advocate.”


  8. This is not to defend the BLM but I think one reason they want humane observers of their choice is so they can spew out sound bites. See good folk like Laura, Elyse and Craig would just tell us like it is. No bones about it. They can’t “control” the above three.

    We have to keep calling etc. And hopefully George Knapp can get some of his work copied and sent onto Energy Commission folks.

    What I saw in this video was like I would imagine the Nazi’s did to the Jews. It was horrid to watch. And so sad. Has this world really swung that far around this fast that Nazi Germany can happen all over again–in our OWN COUNTRY for Pete’s sake.

    I wonder what the butt brained BLM is going to do when the judge tells them to release all of the Calico horses. And oh by the way–here’s a big huge fat fine you have to pay because you gelded all the studs before they BELONGED TO THE BLM and Salazoo’s Zoo.


      • As this is a matter of Public record, it can’t have any actual details or facts. This wasn’t even ‘clinical’.
        Man’s a credit to his profession and his government.


    • thank you; well basically according to the Vet. the Mustangs had “negative energy balance”…that explains alot…doesn’t it ? NOT ! give the jerk of the year award!


    • With no observers allowed to be there to record the condition of the animals as they came in which we know is not as they are describing, how do we defend this one? We have known what their secrecy motives have been all along but it is frustrating not to be able to shove photos in their faces and say “WHERE ARE ALL THE STARVING HORSES YOU ARE DESCRIBING???”


    • Okay, so how do I access the “attached reports” mentioned in the BLM vet’s report? How many necropsies were performed? Were blood samples taken from all the mares? What were their body scores?

      How many of the “54” deaths were these mares? Guess I’ll have to go back to the Gather Reports and get out my calculator again.

      Two of the three pregnant seized Peruvian Paso mares at our Rescue were scored under 2. It took a while, but they recovered nicely. Our vet said he had NEVER seen a herd of horses (10) so full of so many types of parasites. All 10 are alive today, plus 2 foals, and one due any minute.

      Organizations willing to do the rehab are out there, but the BLM refuses to turn the horses over. Yes, mar, this is neglect AND abuse in my book.


  9. Mr Abbey writes: “It is our intention to have impartial observers at the Fallon facility and we hope to have them in place soon. We have been working with reputable organizations to reach agreements so that we will have qualified people serving in this role. Once we have an agreement in place, we will inform you of the details.”

    1) Who exactly does Mr Abby consider an impartial observer?
    2) Where is the BLM finding these reputable organizations?
    3) Why does the BLM need an “AGREEMENT” with these impartial,reputable organizations?
    4) Will the public even be allowed access to their observations?

    Does anybody know an impartial, reputable person qualified to be a humane observer that is NOT a WH&B advocate?


    • A Humane Observer is someone who can answer questions as to what they witnessed, asked and were told while on site, to any persons or press who inquires. Nothing less. They are not beholden to any and are to be scrupulously honest and forthcoming. mar


    • Let me guess…. These “impartial, reputable organizations” have never expressed discontent nor raised serious questions about the way BLM operates. And since he already has a list of these organizations, why not provide the names already? Why hide their names for so long?
      Seems like once again decisions have been made without the slightest interest to have input from the American public, nor include people who expressed real concern for a long time concerning the welfare of horses, such as RT Finch.
      What is there to hide that a humane observer would be able to notice?
      Are the counts completely off?? There has been plenty of time since the end of the round up to cater to the horses, and the only discrepancy left would be in the number of horses still alive and well. Does this mean there are very few left?


      • Charlie, I don’t think that the numbers will ever add up but to say that ‘very few are left’ is not likely. Their are visits each Sunday Tomorrow is the 3rd Sunday and Craig and Elyse and others have ben going each week. The horses do get photographed and if a large number were not present someone would notice. mar


    • Looks like prohibition to me. Do not allow anyone who might be able to keep track of the welfare of the horses. Hide, hide, hide.
      “Once we have an agreement in place”… Do not show, do not tell.


  10. Dear Mr. Abbey:
    Your comment regarding “reaching agreements” concerns me. You are seeking impartial humane observers from “reputable organizations” from which an agreement will be in place. What type of agreements would need to be in place for a humane observer? My guess is, you will have them sign a legal document(s) dictating what they may and may not release to the public. And should they release unfavorable, but truthful information, the humane observer, will find themselves in court. So in essence, the public will never really know what is going on in the Fallon Facility. Isn’t this how the game is played Mr. Abbey?
    Also, how can I trust the BLM to make an intelligent, moral and ethical choice of who the humane observers will be? The BLM has proven time and again that they are not capable of this. One example that comes to mind is the hiring of the Cattoors. Why would the BLM hire a contractor for the Calico roundup that has a history of a Federal Indictment against them for horse hunting? Apparently, this was your (BLM) idea of a “reputable” and “qualified” contractor.
    I shudder to think who you would consider “reputable” and “qualified” as a humane observer.
    I believe Charles Manson is still alive…….he would probably fit the picture of your idea of reputable and qualified. And, my guess is, he would sign the legal documents preventing him from speaking the truth to the public.
    In essence Mr. Abbey, I have absolutely no faith in the BLM.
    Lastly, I would like to remind you that thousands of us view the wild horses as our icon of our history, traditions and cultures. We are appreciative for their contribution to the building of this country, for their companionship, and in general, for their special bond with people. And it is a huge concern to many of us that our icon’s are at the mercy of BLM.


  11. Hitler would have been proud to have monsters like this working for him. This is an atrocity and most Americans don’t even know its happening. How do we get this story out to the masses?


    • Keep up all the emails, letters, faxes and phone calls… and go to DC if you can on March 25-26 and if you can’t Have a Protest Where ever you are to Coincide with DC and show your support…
      Help send with donations to IDA for the lawsuit and we will get you an address to help Craig and Elyse purchase a four wheel drive so they can into the back country to see wild horses. They presently are borrowing…

      If you want a new horse visit a BLM facility to adopt or find a rescue with mustangs for adoption.


      • And write the editors of any newspapers you read and tell your community about the wild horses and burros. If you are a horse owner and are in a club or know one, ask if you can give a talk on the wild ones.

        Make comments at face book and My space that will be seen by new people. mar


  12. Even condemed criminals have witnesses at their execution..AND what crimes did these horses commit to deserve such a fate as execution or life imprisonment???? by the way need more than 1 vet to handle the massive amount of problems you have there at Fallon


    • Yes, any animal organization that had one vet (not on site always) for more than 1900 animals and had mounting deaths EVERY DAY, would be shut down. No ifs, ands or buts about it. This is negligence and dereliction of duty.

      And, I’d like to know how many BLM vets in total look after 35,000 captive horses.


  13. We gave the public lands to the ranchers -so that they would quit killing the sheepmen and their sheep and burning out and killing the homesteading farmers…we had range wars and massacres to satisfy the greed of the few..and nothing has changed..we have added corporations and gold mines to the list of PERPS-destroying the public lands decimating the water sources- for profit- and yet the wild horses are who they blame for the destruction and they are condemed to death or a life of imprisonment…for a crime they did not commit. (just thought I would share the message I left for the DOI)


  14. Before being tapped by Salazar to go to Washington, Mr. Abbey spent his entire career in the Nevada BLM. Think he cares about keeping the horses wild? Nope.


      • I realize that, and “they” say you can’t really sue a judge, but


        Here comes Obama with new legislation on medicare reimbursements to doctors which will not allow them to submit their claims to medicare during the first part of March, and he won’t do anything about cutting the cost of the roundups.


      • JF, You are right, and this is what we all feel and it has not gone away, if this gets better because of this judge it will not have done a thing for all the harm that is caused and the lives lost. Can he redeem himself?? I sure hope he tries and know it will be on point of law and not for redemption. mar


  15. I do not know how you people can make up so much bull about some thing that none of you really know about living in your apartment in some city some where. Join the real world and realize that that you are making a bigger problem for the wild horses if you stop the gathers because the USA eats Beef and is not going to go with out. There is no where for them to go other than the places that are set aside for them now. Thats it! Manage them the way they need to be managed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    • Easy..”Rounder”, you defeat your purpose and minimize your point when you generalize and stereotype. Not everyone lives in apartments and in a city; the bulk of us live on land, grow a crop and have horses that we see every hour of the day. So tread lightly and no flaming.

      Also, most of us go by our real names and don’t hide behind handles as we have nothing to fear, the truth is extremely transparent and liberating.


    • Hey The Rounder — I’d be happy to stop paying my taxes for this mistreatment of horses, but the US Government seems to tax us ALL to support the BLM no matter WHERE WE LIVE.


    • Rounder: I make up no bull. My observations and opinions are backed with research, facts and INDEPENDENT evaluation. Which by the way, I conduct ON MY FARM while looking out at MY HORSES. You say “There is no where for them to go other than the places that are set aside for them now”. If the BLM would please give back the land (they stole/swapped/sold/transferred or whatever) that was set aside for the horses by law in 1971, the real world would be a much better place.

      Sincerely, KA Schaaf (formerly known as kas0859ohio)


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