Horse News

Renowned Wildlife Ecologist Calls for Drastic Changes in BLM Wild Horse Program

by Craig C. Downer, Wildlife Ecologist

"Freedom" after he jumped the pen, caught in barbed wire then to dashed to "freedom" during deadly Calico Round Up - Photo by Craig Downer

Unless urgent action is taken, wild horses and burros in today’s America face a bleak future.  Though the unanimously passed Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 originally set aside somewhere between 53 million and 88 million acres for their preservation in the wild, the rights of these animals and their public supporters have been undermined and denied by the very officials charged with protecting them.

Current policies toward these national heritage species are thinly disguised plans for either bringing their populations to cripplingly low, non-viable levels or for totally eliminating them from their legal areas.  Even if some 30,000 wild horses and burros remain on the public lands (and many think that only 16,000 remain), this figure is in no way commensurable with the amount of ecologically appropriate habitat in which they have the legal right to live.  With our government’s current goal to drastically reduce the already tiny wild herds (over 12,000 to be removed in FY 2010) coupled with its emphasis on male-skewed sex rations and temporary sterilization through PZP injection of mares, our nation’s last remaining wild horses and burros find themselves in a survival crisis, indeed, one in many ways more imperiled than in 1971, for their chief enemies reside within the very agencies (BLM & USFS) charged with their protection.

To remedy this intolerable situation, the people of America must immediately and audaciously respond with a well-conceived plan for change.  As a wildlife ecologist and fourth-generation Nevadan personally familiar with the Western wild equids, I now present a way to restore America’s wild horses and burros as viable natural herds throughout the West and to obviate those cruel and disruptive roundups and reproductive manipulations that are only making a mockery of the Act.

Stallion "Freedom" dashes for freedom after being injured during escape from BLM Calico Roundup - Photo by Craig Downer

Wildlife, wilderness and conservation professionals call this strategy Reserve Design.  This combines both ecological and political considerations in order to achieve desirable goals.  Basically wild horse/burro Reserve Design involves the setting aside of areas of wild horse/burro-containing habitat where human intervention is strictly controlled/ buffered against and where natural processes are allowed to reestablish natural checks and balances.  In this way, a significant degree of internal harmony is achieved for all diverse yet interrelated species (including man) within the ecosystem in question.

Some of the more obvious necessities of Reserve Design are:

(1)   Properly identifying the survival requirements of the principal species to be accommodated in the reserve.  In this case we would be promoting a wild horse/burro-containing ecosystem.

(2)   Identifying appropriate geographical areas suitable for the implementation of wild horse/burro-containing  reserves.

(3)   Incorporating natural barriers that will limit the ingress and/or the egress of certain species, including the wild horses and burros.  This would be for the purposes of avoiding conflicts and setting up conditions for the self-regulation, or self-stabilization of populations, particularly equids.

(4)   Identifying where buffer zones, artificial barriers, or other means of impeding movements in and out of the reserve should be established.  These will keep the species in question from coming into conflict.  This will include what is termed semi-permeable barriers that do not restrict other species but do prevent equids from passing through.  However, well-conceived buffer zones are usually more suitable to produce the desired results.

(5)   Identifying the presence and abundance of necessary food, water, shelter, mineral procurement sites, elevational gradients for seasonal migrations, etc. – factors that will accommodate the long-term needs of viable wild equid populations.

(6)   Identifying geographical regions whose people are well disposed toward the creation and long-term implementation of extensive, ecologically balanced wild horse/burro-containing reserves.

(7)   Identifying ways of promoting wild equid reserves and of implementing reserve design that will result in win-win relationships centered around the wild horse/ burro reserves.  Ecotourism is one major possibility here.  Restoring native wild horse/burro-containing ecosystems, including soils and native species, is another.  Also, the reduction of flammable vegetation through equid grazing and the restoration of hydro-graphic basins, or water catchment areas, constitute other important, positive consequences of the reserves.  Indeed, the restoration of the “equid element” in North America has a crucial role to play in combating the life-disrupting threats of Global Warming itself.  I appreciate your attention and do not hesitate in contacting me concerning this proposal.

You can read Craig’s comments that were made at the BLM workshop (HERE)

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93 replies »

  1. This is such a great idea, but it makes too much SENSE! Considering what’s going on in the Gulf, anything that makes sense seems to be a last resort.


  2. Is this what Craig tried to read at the BLM meetings in Denver?

    Thank you for posting it.

    Good old Larry Johnson is against “managing as primary species” (his words); but maybe the concept of “Managing as the primary USE” might be a concept the Multi-Use Mindset of BLM could get their brains around.

    If USE could be decided for these areas, the “species” argument might become a moot point. (i.e. the idea of “managing as the primary presence.” This is just basically a packaging of the intent into BLM LANGUAGE.

    Well, it’s my two cents worth anyway. . .


    • When I heard those words come out of Larry Johnson’s smarmy mouth, my first thought was his love affair with the Bighorns. I’d like to know what species he considers primary, secondary, tertiary, etc., on each HMA/HA. The wild ones always top the list as “too many”, but how many other grazers and browsers (species and numbers) are out there? Saying “not enough” just doesn’t fly.

      Has the “devoted principally” language in Section 2(c) of the 1971 Act been amended, or just worked around? (Also, Section 4 re: lessees who may choose to maintain wild ones on their BLM leases?)

      As I’ve said many times before, documention on ALL animal and human activities impacting an HMA/HA should be a part of any scientifically-valid study, and included in all EAs for direct comparison. We shouldn’t have to be running around trying to find this information.


      • Read the Stinking Water HMA EA, the Cattle allotment EA and all the documentation on pasture rotation ect posted over at The mustang project Blog page..The blm in this district is very proactive in range management, I like and approve of much they have done..and give blame equally to cattle and WH-and have implemented the plans to mitigate.fencing to protect streams and riparian damage from both cattle and horses yet building a water gap to service those animals and developing new watersources in areas underutilized because of the lack of water there.and that is what good range management should be…aums for wildlife are actually in their charts and discussed..There are STILL way more aums alloted for cattle than anything else, and horses are STILL the only animal being their good range management practices…THEY have solved their problems..therefore there should be NO need to remove horses to an AML of 40! Multiple use..should be just that..not a weapon or means to punish one species for the bad management or lack thereof attributed to human failings. They are soooo close to being right on this one..Its the pressure to hit that AML do we get around that do THEY get around it???Help -!!! we could get this one right!


      • the first census done was in 1977-161 horses ist gather done in 1978-179 horses..My suggestion would be to go back to that number of 179. The land supported that number originally without that they are doing a good job of managing cattle and resources..there should be no problem with that original number standing..their 2009 census…guess what..179 horses..expected to be 210 at gather time the 1st of July..There have been 6 gathers over the lifetime of this herd..they went 13 years inbetween gathers 1992 to 20005 and guess what foal rate went down to 11-15% from a high of 50% the year AFTER the gather


      • Linda – that ‘Devoted Principally’ phrase sticks in my craw like a splinter.
        Prior to understanding how truly screwed Wild Equines have become, that phrase led me to believe the HMAs were sacred nesting grounds for Wild Equines & the wild life they shared those areas with.
        ‘Principally’ intimates ‘First Dibs’ not ‘First one in, first one out’. Not ‘Open to Interpretation’.
        ‘Principally’ indicates ‘priority’. Were grazing allotments on HMAs given secondary consideration as to what the range will allow, this fight might not be a fight. If top predators were not hunted out of existence on HMAs where cattle proliferate, if the ranges encompassed what they did when the Act was passed, our Herds would, I believe, regulate & be regulated according to Nature.
        That’s how to acheive ‘thriving, ecolological balance’, one of the Bureau’s favorite catch-alls.

        “prin·ci·pal·ly   /ˈprɪnsəpəli, -sɪpli/ [prin-suh-puh-lee, -sip-lee]
        chiefly; mainly. ”



      • Do they set AML’s for cattle grazing?

        Why net apply the “AML” requirement to anything walking around out there. . Does Multiple Use mean every square foot must be available for any use out there??


  3. The equines have to be taken away from the BLM. Period.

    They need their own DOI agency. I would advocate that DOI, itself is long overdue for a major overhaul and in some ways very antiquated, outmoded and not serving the bests interests of this Nation..

    I would hope that several (5-10) environmental and wildlife advocates would prepare a summary of the shortfalls of DOI with a plan to reorganize and prioritize natural resource and wildlife concerns. That plan should be presented to President Obama (not Slaughterczar or USDA) in a face to face meeting. I realize he is a busy man, but he can’t find 90 minutes face to face time with these organizations to hear their concerns and ideas without the filtering and stifling that USDA, DOI and Chief of Staff to the Prez continually throw up at us????

    Come on.


  4. For those of you who are subscribing to this thread, we have added a link to Craig’s comments at the BLM workshop in the main article, above.

    Thanks, again, Craig.


  5. Craig, BRAVO! Where do I sign up?

    Heard Watch for one. I got my printer ink, so my paper work will be coming soon.

    Anyone, are the BLM Public Outreach tech problems fixed? I am of a mood that if not, I will be throwing things in frustration, my fuse is short these days – but if I have to buckle in for it, I will.


  6. “wild ass fossil remains testify that a niche similar to that of the burro was occupied for prolonged periods of time and until the close of the last Ice Age.”

    When I read this first time – my mind skipped to “fossil remains testify that a niche of asses occupied, and continue a prolonged occupation of BLM”


  7. Craig< I would like to add a copy of your statement to every EA I respond to with comments are always directed to a specific EA and its particulars..the points you make are relative to each and every EA across the west..thank you!


  8. Thank you Craig for all your hard work. Keep up the good efforts on behalf of those with no voice. You are the man.


  9. Greatly appreciate all your support and am anxious to follow through on the concept of Reserve Design for the wild horses and burros. If this is presented positively and with conviction, it can become a living reality in our world.


    • Craig,

      Vicki sent via EWA a news release regarding WWP winning (temporarily, I think) the action of BLM to remove (?) the grazing rights of private owners and/or grantors of land rights that BLM seems to have authority over because (and this is a good one) WWP is choosing NOT to exercise grazing rights for livestock (cattle/sheep).

      This is not only amazing (WWP always seems to get their ducks in a row and win when suing governments…please give me the handbook!), it is also so important. It shows that BLM (for one) expects grazing, regularly of livestock and when you don’t you loose you permit rights. But I also realize that BLM (and others) have a record of rounding up equines on private land…no matter what the owner thinks, wants or uses the land for.

      God…what a freaking mess.


      • Denise you are too far down in your comment about the hunters can’t hunt horses but they can hunt other wildlife.

        What makes them more entitiled than you or me? I want to hunt wild horses – with a camera and binoculars!


    • Craig, I am really looking forward to the design concepts. Do you have any links to similar projects already done?

      Finally, something I might understand from a career background bordering on wildland/urban land use and Planning in conjunction with the ecology!


    • Laura – Big Horns eat the same forage as domstic sheep, though not always during the same season.
      Domestic sheep carry a bacteria which gets left behind on the areas they forage on. Big Horn have no immunity to it, become sick with pneumonia and die.

      Big Horn have an unusual life-style – they go way up into the mountains in Winter to escape predators but drink nothing at all. They receive the moisture they need to survive from their forage.

      Even when they come back down in the Spring, they drink water on the average of every 3 days. They are highly specialized to their environments which, unfortunately, makes them extremely vulnerable to drastic changes. They are so sensitive to those changes, they’re almost an indicator species – a species that thrives or dies depending on the health of their chosen environment.

      This is what pisses me off about larry johnson & the sierra club: if they were truly serious about saving these animals, they would suspend hunting them & scream Bloody Murder about grazing allotments for domestic sheep.

      I have done a lot of research on Big Horns and never, not once, have I found any citation where Wild Ones & Big Horn are unable to co-exist from competition (because Big Horn’s nutritional needs are so specialized) or cross-species diseases. Big Horn could survive & thrive if domestic sheep were not allowed to contaminate their area.

      I believe we call this a No Brainer.


      • Lisa, This is interesting.

        Here I go again: Wild sheep crossed the Bering land bridge from Siberia during the Pleistocene (~750,000 years ago).

        When does an animal become indeginouse or native, or retain non-native status as the case may be? I know its really all about semantics and opinions, but just throwing this out for possible use in arguments with adversaries about the status of Wild Horses – they do often bring up Big Horns as in competion with Wild Horses, so I will use your other info often. And since I always ask for links from adversaries, I like to provide them too – have one or two?

        Curious how you would use this, if at all in an argument?


      • Good info…but once again the entire mantra from BLM is about domestic meat livestock. They can’t legally hunt equines so they want them gone. They can Big Horn but they suffer at the hands of meat livestock too….just like the bison, not to mention natural population control predators like mountain lions, wolves and coyotes. However, they use trophy hunting as an excuse to exterminate equines and other “nuisance” species to fit their macho, money agendas.

        They all are removal/extermination targets of DOI (BLM, USFS, USGS) and USDA because they give livestockers inconvenience and so-called losses and then turn around and say that bison and equines are running amuk on “their” land..

        Anyway, just my opinion on following the traceable thread of abuse that our wild equines suffer from..


      • PS I think they do use helicopters to relocate Buffalo and Elk, maybe Big Horns too?

        You can find all allowed uses in the Omnibus Public Land Managment Act of 2009 Wikipedia, which previoulsy had been multiple separate legislations signed by other Presidents. I got all upset when I read that, but realized it was just a hand down. Its a good read.

        And just because it is allowed, does not mean it is required, like BLM tries to spin things.

        It was touted as the biggest environment reform in history by Dems at the time, however it was a hand down from Bush. And remember it reforms 40 years of separate stuff. It is hard for me to see the reform, because I don’t know what was there before, but at least it consolidates everything and Harry Reid didn’t like it – maybe because it was a Bush Act and he’s Dem? However, may Repubs did not like it from the beginnning.


      • my point is the BLM runs wild horses in winter with helicopters causing death and injury to those horses.

        At the same time horses are stampeded by BLM ALL wildlife hears the herds stampeeding for seveal miles!

        All wildlife is disrupted and made to run in winter which means sickness and death and loss of bodyfat for ALL wildlife for 20 miles around the BLM or MORE miles. 50 miles? who knows those helicopters run low and LOUD and scarey to all wildlife.

        The BLM should stop helicopter use as it kills and harms ALL wildlife. Bighorn hunting sheep too.


      • tell the bighorn sheep hunters and the readers of their Nature stories and hunting stories- that the BLM running horses with helicopters is what is harming their precious herds of hunting sheep. I’m going to start posting that everytime I see a story about how many millions the hunters are spending trying to figure out what is harming their sheep. Its the Helicopters and stampeding herds! please everyone post that if you read about hunting animals and troubles. Its the helicopters and the BLMs fault.


      • Thanks guys for all this info. It will come in handy.

        I agree, lets hit the hunting blogs, do a little education there – just keep it simple – ask if they think helicopters are harming their targets or causing the stress that is leading to this big horn issue.

        I started a nurses aid program when I was a kid. What I learned is that pneumonia in humans, pneumococi, is present in everyones lungs. It is stress from another source, such as rundown, a cold or flu that kicks its little butt into action. So yes, stress, definatly, if that is in thier lungs, could produce the same results I would think. At least weaken thier immune systems to be suseptical to things they might otherwise fight off.


      • Pneumonia activated by stress. Where are the veterinarians.

        Problem is they “have seen it all.” I wonder how much “continuing education”
        BLM vets are REQUIRED to partake in every year (by BLM).


  10. Rox – there are several ‘treasured herds’ of Big Horns in the Sierras. I think they have used them in the past to ‘re-stock’ when Big Horn populations start to dwindle in the High Deserts. But because they’re a ‘sub-species’, I can’t say for sure if they still do this. That doesn’t answer the question – why do these animals continue to perish?

    My concern, and it’s not a comfortable position to take – perhaps their time is over. Survival depends on the ability to adapt to very harsh circumstances, like Polar Bears, who, unlike their dark brown relatives, can only subsist on a diet of meat. If the prey is gone, Polar Bears starve; they can’t eat grass, berries or roots.

    As I understand it, modern Wild Equines have more in common genetically with their Prehistoric predecessors than any other Equine on Earth, save the Przewalski (somethin’ like that). What modern Wild Equines are in my estimation, is a ‘heritage’ species – an animal with more than 5 centuries of occupation in this country, a species that has lived symbiotically with all species of wild life prior to the advent of domestic stock animals & Caucasians. They carved their niche; they EARNED the right to be here, not to perish ignominiously simply because they annoy the new neighbors.


    • My monthy “New Mexico Wildlife” (courtesy of NM Fish & Game) arrived in today’s paper. Lead story – “Bighorn Success”. It took 30 years and millions upon millions of dollars to save the desert bighorns from extinction in NM (69 in 1980 to 550 today). They were downlisted from Endangered to Threatened in 2008. There’s now a proposal to remove them from the “Threatened” list.

      A number of things impacted the NM desert bighorns over the years – the introduction of millions of domestic sheep (major habitat loss & disease), large-scale cattle operations (overgrazing & hunting to reduce competition), overhunting (legal & illegal), drought, pneumonia (20 transplanted animals died in 1981 after being exposed to a new herd and location), scabies mites and mountain lion predation (San Andres herd dropped from a high of about 35 in 1994 to a single ewe in 1997 [3 years!]. Introduced herd tested free of scabies by 2001. Mountain lion removal began in 2001. “Here, kitty,kitty” … or with a bullet? Didn’t say. Just “removal”.)

      Familiar circumstances, threats, and terms. Difference? Overwhelming pressure from environmentalists and hunters to save (AGAIN & AGAIN & AGAIN) a highly-prized trophy species. Cost? Tens (perhaps hundreds) of millions of federal and state tax dollars. Also millions from hunters and private donors.

      Why people work so hard to save an animal just to kill it has never made sense to me. No offense to any hunters out there. I just wasn’t raised in a hunting family, so I probably will never understand.

      I wonder if any of the NM HMAs were zeroed out to protect the sheep? Wouldn’t be surprised. Does anyone know where I can find info on NM HMAs/HAs designated in 1971? The BLM website drives me nuts every time I try to research anything!


    • In the same publication: “Department captures, relocates 277 pronghorn antelope”. Evidently they were “damaging” some rancher’s alfalfa, so they had to go. Department biologists and vets were “pleased with the extremely low mortality rate.” ONLY 8 DIED from “injuries or stress from the trapping and transit operations.” So, in truth, they relocated 269. “Technique” used for removal? Chased by helicopter into a funnel trap.

      P.S. They used specially-designed stretchers to carry each sedated antelope to the trailers. Stretchers were manned by 4 people: one person lifting each end, one to hold the animal’s head up, and one to steady its body. A separate opening had been cut in the canvas for each leg, so the body was totally supported. Limousine service compared to the wild ones!


      • One of the only exports in Winnemucca, NV is alfalfa. Most of the farms I saw, the farmers hadn’t even bothered with fences. At dusk, the Pronghorn came to the fields in DROVES.
        According to Friends of Nevada Wilderness, especially around Black Rock Desert (where part of the Calico Fiasco took place), Pronghorns routinely get the snot beat outta them by marauding Wild Equines.
        Austin-Tonopah, site of an as-yet to be determined roundup is literally crawling with Elk; the ranchers snivel about these majestic hotties because they eat what the cattle eat, and apparently WAY more than their fair share.
        In North Central Nevada, there’s a movement afoot to broaden the scope & size of the Cougar hunt because (and I threw up a little in my mouth when I read this) THE COUGAR ARE KILLING MULE DEER. Can you imagine!!
        The most common denominator for these animals – Big Horn, Pronghorn, Mule Deer & Elk – aside from sharing their neighborhoods with Wild Equines is they are HUNTED.
        So these hallowed organizations who so desperately & deeply hate Feral Horses are protecting and saving native wildlife because…


        It is here at this juncture that my eyes cross and I black out from a total lack of understanding. The goal is to save these poor unfortunates from Wild Equines so they can kill them themselves????!

        All of this made looking at larry johnson, chief purveyor of Big Horn Welfare & Killing Techniques, and his poison puss very aggravating, indeed.


      • I read the alf. farmers try noise and lights to keep deer out of their fields and that doesn’t work, lol .what they should do is either make the fences 30 feet high, or get themselfs some livestock dogs trained to chase out deer from their fields.

        even better surround their fields with fencing to keep in a couple lions and those deer will stay out of those fields 😉


    • From your link:


      Bighorn inhabit alpine meadows, grassy mountain slopes and foothill country near rugged, rocky cliffs and bluffs, allowing for quick escape. In winter, Bighorn prefer slopes 2,500-5,000 feet where annual snowfall is less than 60 inches a year, because they cannot paw through deep snow to feed. Their summer range is between 6,000-8,500 feet in elevation.

      “because they cannot paw through deep snow to feed” WILD HORSES WILL DO THAT FOR THEM!


      • . . . and, if wild horses are forced into HMA’s which only offer those same higher altitudes, guess who they will be seen to be “competing with?” Those same bighorns to which the wild horses have been giving a free (winter) lunch to all these centuries.

        RUF! (rat terrier)


  11. Well Craig, You know I love you dearly and I want what you want for the wild ones (their freedom) but it seems to me they already have land set out for them as “reserves” and that is their traditional lands as so stated by the Wild Horse Annie Act of 1971, which as you know REQUIRES them to be the principle users of same. As you also know, the BLM is ignoring this provision of the 1971 law and are using the Federal Lands Planning and Management Act (FLMPA) enacted in 1974 as an excuse for declimating the herds and/or zeroing them out off their GUARANTEED lands. Prior to FLMPA there was no requirement for any other use of the land, though the language of the Wild Horse Annie Act allowed for “any other use of the land” so long as the wild ones had principal use. Along came FLMPA in 1974 which set forth a new multi-use requirement on all public lands. In addition to the new mandatory multi-use requirement, a “sustainability of yield” was outlined as a crutial consideration in any resource managment plan. In other words, “profitability” is now a major concern in formulating any resource managment plan. In addition to all of this, FLMPA also requires that any decisions regarding land use and resource management plans be effected through written “Land Use and/or Resource Management Plans” as outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) – (This is the Act that requires BLM to let us submit public comments – for all the good it does) Anyways, BLM believes that it can declimate the herds and even zero them out as long as they follow the requirements of FLMPA and NEPA and do it through written plans. That is how they “justify” divesting the wild ones of their land in favor of “more lucrative” endeavors, (sustainability of yield) i.e.; energy and/or exploration (oil & gas, wind farms, utility corridors, and even expansion of wild life reserves (big game hunting) and community building, all of which (of course) are more profitable than keeping wild horses (and burros) roaming free on their traditional lands. So BLM thinks they are operating under the law when they declimate or remove the wild ones off their land simply because they can make more profitable use of the land,…as is REQUIRED by the “new” FLMPA laws. HOWEVER, and I cannot stress this enough,…what BLM fails to realize is that there is an EXEMPTION in the FLMPA laws that DOES NOT require “multiple use and sustainability of yield” for land that have been designated for a certain use PRIOR to FLMPAs 1974 Act! “Those lands,” FLMPA says, should be managed according to the law that was in place prior to FLMPAs enactment! So you see, the BLM is nullifying not only the provision of the Wild Horse Annie Act of 1971 that REQUIRES the wild ones to be principal users of their traditional lands, but by their ignorance, they are nullifying the EXEMPTION clause of the FLMPA law as well!! What is need to keep the wild ones entitlement to remain on their traditional lands AND to be PRINCIPAL USES of same, is a legal challange to the BLMs nullification of these important federal statutes. This is some VERY serious stuff as Congress frowns upon administrative bodies upsurping the powers of the legislature. What is needed to WIN this constitutional challange is a savy lawyer well versed in Constitutional law. Do this, and if we are successful, there will be no need to find new “reserves” or for the building of any Salazoos. The wild ones can stay on their traditional lands AND be principal users of same. What have we got to lose? What would it hurt to try? Isnt that what we all really want, for the wild ones to stay on their land? –


    • oooooooooo…..
      Ms. Jubic – You are GOOD.
      I wonder… I hope… could this be a ‘wrinkle’ in the fine print?
      You oughta have a lawyer look at that (and I’m not being sarcastic).


    • Christene, I ditto Lisa. Copy to IDA, Spriggs, John Holland and Ginger Kathrens! Really, do it.

      I think what Craig, who can certainly speak for himslef, but I’m here now, is trying to accomplish is to negate BLM stonewalls. AND at the same time give some wild horses areas where they are NOT part of a multiple use of cattle, sheep and energy, and not rounded up so that they can be accurtaly studied. I don’t see anything in his report, or anything he has said, that he in any way wants to stop all other fights for all the horses to be returned to their rightful open range in the West – its not a one or the other. Someone will hopefully correct me if I am wrong.

      When nI leisten to Ginger and Johns radio spots and the other guests I begin to undersatnd the enormaty and complexities at work – way over my head other than the results they are witness to. Our wild horses have been rounded up nonstop almost since the day the Lewis and Clark ones went loose and joined the Spanish ones already on the range, gaining more oversight since the 1971 Act, certainly more public interest since Wild Horse Annie brought their plight to public attention and the attention of Congress at the time. In more recent years (when I don’t konw) the sex ratios began being skewed, then helicopters added to the mix (planes were bad enough), and then PZP came along. We can no longer know everything we need to know because their social systems have been so tampered with.

      Some are even learning to hide in the trees when the helicopters fly near – that was witnessed in the Pryor roundup.


    • It seems to cut to the chase, legislatively.

      I am going to send it to Laura Allen. It also needs to go as a cut n’ paste on the public comments to the two Denver online articles just posted on The Cloud Foundation Blog regarding the meetings. . . also to all elected officials.

      Do a whole Howling Ridge and discuss this issue alone by inviting several constitutional lawyers to discuss it.

      Then somebody win the lottery, hire the best and brightest, and “throw the book at ’em.”

      I vote for Counselor Black who helped shake down the S&L CZARS back when.

      Have written him a couple of times in the past year to try to get across the devastation of the wild herds.


      • From the above link:

        William K. Black, author of THE BEST WAY TO ROB A BANK IS TO OWN ONE, teaches economics and law at the University of Missouri — Kansas City (UMKC). He was the Executive Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention from 2005-2007. He has taught previously at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and at Santa Clara University, where he was also the distinguished scholar in residence for insurance law and a visiting scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

        Black was litigation director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, deputy director of the FSLIC, SVP and general counsel of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, and senior deputy chief counsel, Office of Thrift Supervision. He was deputy director of the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement.

        Black developed the concept of “control fraud” — frauds in which the CEO or head of state uses the entity as a “weapon.” Control frauds cause greater financial losses than all other forms of property crime combined. He recently helped the World Bank develop anti-corruption initiatives and served as an expert for OFHEO in its enforcement action against Fannie Mae’s former senior management.


      • Absolutely, this would make a good discussiion topic for a couple of Howling Ridge spots.

        I volunteer to do my part – I volunteer to sin the Lottery!


      • Janet, Black is absolutely correct and the undeniable proof is in “black and white” for all to see. That is why I keep posting the Community Reinvestment Act on Wikipedia. Part of the horror is the arrogance; they don’t even try to keep these shenanigans secret anymore. Sure they slip in midnight riders so even those voting don’t know, but the result legislation is right in all our faces. It is fraud at its most evil because they did that by chiseling away at the basis of the original legislation under Jimmy Carter and created the mess we have to today and they did it “legally” by changing the law. Those changes did not only drastically reduce regulation and oversight as Mr. Black points out, they made the taxpayers, by law responsible to bail them out, and at the same time expanded what was originally a limited scope to include pretty much ALL lending practices, then by law actually “required” bank and S & L participation (Why I’m not so happy with the health care reform). All they needed to do then was bring in the suckers, all of us, ‘”Buy UP, REFI, NO QUALIFYING, NO APPRAISALS, NO BRAINERS” all over the radio, TV, print, over and over. Even downright lies, the tactic of repeating a lie enough makes it somehow true – BRAINWASHING. Even psychological tricks with colors and airbrushing – common everyday day marketing. Anyone remember when “flashing” subliminal messages were outlawed, now has to be 1.5 seconds? They have far advanced from those days. I have every reason to think lobbyists make our officials just as vulnerable.

        Anyone think they have free will as a consumer – think again. Example – quitting smoking is not just normal psychology and addiction, it’s in the tactics in everyday advertizing to keep smoking.

        Sound familiar to the 1971 Act at our core? I’d like an expert to analyze the BLM web page for airbrushing and use of colors! They certainly have the “repeat a lie” and chisel away at the law enough tactics down pat!

        PS See Robin Hood – don’t listen to the critics saying “just another Robin Hood” – I’ve seen them all – not true. Every bit as good as Brave Heart, but without the overly graphic violence. And timely to our crusade, heck timely to our entire political and economic situation today – we need a Robin Hood!


      • More salt – I forgot teh ones that created this mess even took out bets in the form of insurance (which imply some risk – the only risk is if we somehow hold on to our mortgages), ie derivatives as I undersand it, that we would NOT be able to make those mortgage payments – they actualy make more money when we forclouse. That was not sustainable either of course, and the derivatives could not cover what they had insured – double whamy to the economy – the ones that got in early on those bets made out, but the insurance is still there and, from one article I read, they will collect something eventually some day anyway.


    • Thats the JFK said…don’t ask WHY ask WHY NOT! we do need to pursue this..i will forward your comment on to an attorney who is working on a lawsuit! Keep up the good work! bring it to everyones attention and start bouncing it around..I gave him an idea or two that is out of the box to check out too..I have said for awile attacking this using the 71 law is too broad and too hard to prove intent of the law..we need to go after them on specifics..that is how WWP nails them.


  12. Sandra posted a petition a few months ago. The DOI is doing the same thing with the buffalo that they are doing with the horses–helicopters and hazing.


      • Janet, Lisa, Laura, Sandra, etc. I know I can count on you to whip me into reality. Sorry, this is a long one, but I need to be clear about this idea.

        On another blog and a complelty separate topic, oddly, someone was using the example of hunting and that humans are part of nature too. I had included that in my very first post on PBS too, but then forgot about it as I went on my knowledge quest.

        So, how would you counter this, or discuss this?

        Humans are a part of nature too. Humans are predators. The balance of nature depends on human predation. So when humans hunt they are playing their part, just like cats and wolves.

        Then I ask, how does that apply to Wild Horses?

        Of course, natures balance is being unnaturaly skewed to a great degree by human expansion. But there are still adequate pockets where natural balance should be able to sustain its self.

        Then there is the Bible part, can’t remember where because I don’t really study it, but at least 2 places where God clearly gives man dominion over animals for mans use.

        Of course, in no case is inhumane treatment ok. And of course we do not want horses hunted, but maybe we should add “unnecessary, lawless, unscientifically based and indescrimenantely” in front of hunting. As far as I am concerned rondups are a form of hunting.

        I’m just going to throw this out there, did once before and got a little beat up, but its still a lingering “LAST RESORT” solution that is much kinder than current roundup methods.

        If you do indeed, based on science find that a herd or bands, HAVE TO be regulated for whatever reason, overpopulated an area, or the area has actually based on real science, or they are sick, the land has become unsustainable for natures balance – why not have hunting? Not for food, which is disgusting to us (not to mention the wild horses have been injected with bute too) – Require special sniper abilities, long range, totally regulated to maintain natural sex ratios (bad guys already and will always do their thing) – the horses would not know, or even hear the shot (I think that can also be done?). As far as they know a buddys time just came, they fall as if naturally struck by lightening, they feed other wildlife. Now consider man as a natural predator, as a necessary part of nature. Humans did of course play this exact role in prehistoric days and since.

        Again, I’m just saying IF really scientifically necessary, would this not be better than helicopters or any “hands on” human intervention? And a the same time get a little support from some hunters too as a specialty type of hunting? I mean, go ahead in when the herd has moved on and take a little trophy even as far as I’m concerned.

        I want to hunt horses too, with a camera and binoculars. At the rate we are going I won’t be able to do that. Doesn’t this system work out for bird watchers – ducks, geese and the like, except they can be eaten?

        Roundups, though would still be done, but not so many, no so often – they are skewing with our horses society and making it more difficult for some people, because of roundup trauma, to successfully integrate these horses into their lives through the adoption programs. Less and infrequent trauma would result in easier integration into domesticity I would think.

        Ok, let me have it. I find I cannot argue with bloggers who make the point that humans are part of nature too. Maybe my idea stinks, but maybe there are other ideas?

        And to Sue Wallis, take a breath, this does not condone rounding them up for slaughter to save them from the perils of nature balony! This is an alternate to roundups in a nature inspired and balanced way. We are not going to eat horses and no way are wild horses ever suited for even the most humane slaughter industry, which I don’t believe can be done anyway on greedy for profit USA soil, which has already, and continues on other soil, to prove it. No going back or forward now – that goose is cooked!


      • Roxy, have you ever read Frank J Dobies book the Mustang..It is a brutal history of how we have treated the mustang, murdered them for sport, just to watch them die, because man placed no value on them…beneath all our internet, ipods and toys..there still lurks a neanderthal..this idea that man kind is at the top of the food chain and has dominon over all, is something cooked up by those that are insecure and need to prove something..the days when we need to go out in to the forest to kill our food are near over, there are some that hunt to eat..but god help them if it is one of my 4 legged family members..Truth is without a weapon mankind is at the bottom of the food chain..the weakest of the weak..which is why he developed a thinking brain or we would have been the first species to go extinct. Does mankind win in a fair fight with an I come from a hunting family..I still remember my Mom when I was 8 years old drawing down on a doe with 2 little fawns..I knocked her gun up in the air..needless to say..that was my last hunting trip..We have a thinking brain..I am sure we can come up with better ideas than killing people or animals to solve a problem..And that is the way I would address a question someone would put to me on hunting wild horses..I actually was going to suggest we get a license to go out and take pictures of them


      • Sandra, I have heard of the book but not read it. I’ve also been recommended to “Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now”.

        I was raised on the fringe of that very era however. That’s how I got my wild horse. My uncle was one of those wild horse wrangles back in those awful days, he started at least, in order for me to get my horse, in the early 1950s I think and I know he was still doing that when I was in high school – so just before Wild Horse Annies movement. If they didn’t kill them out on the range, they went to rodeos or slaughter. I heard all the stories. He kept a few and “broke” them in the ways of the day. Watching those breakings traumatized me so, that I was never really able to enjoy my wild horse for riding, even though he was well trained by someone who specialized in wild horses as I recall – I was just a preschooler to 2nd grade then. I chose my retired circus pony almost exclusively. But, I did not love my wild horse any less and spent more countless hours walking him, brushing, telling secrets, than I spent with my circus pony. She didn’t last long – kept getting out and tramping everyone’s unfenced areas. I was told she went to a good home – maybe (?), my father’s side were cattle ranchers – tons of land. But I know my grandparents would not have paid to have her put down, and if they could get money – well, that was just reality.

        So that is what I grew up with, frontier people with 8th grade educations, if they were lucky, hunting, cleaning dinner, realities of farm and wilderness life of the not even nearly middle class backgrounds in most cases (though my grandparents and their siblings did, for the most part, quite well for themselves, some very, very well considering their education, ups and downs, off and on, survived the Depression, even able to help out neighbors at that time, accepted some help too along the way).

        And they were “smart”, smarter than 10,000 college graduates I have worked with, if not up to today’s standards of being humane, and being humane was preached to me every single day. My brains throws up all kinds of country bumpkin things they taught me and they were right in so many ways, where we are wrong in so many ways today. But their definitions of humane in frontier mode would differ from the luxuries of vets and the like today. Just took my dogs to the vet for their last visit, but I remember Grandpa taking others back then for a walk in the morning, or putting them in the front seat of the truck for “a drive” and then claiming they ran off when a passing truck backfired (but I knew instinctively). Lost lots of pet animals to natural predators and manmade contraptions, snakes, hawks and owls, and combines and trackers for example . My pet goat too! Had chicken that week that I helped cut up! I kept asking my Grandmother why this chicken didn’t look like all the ones before! And I’ll add, I’m not going to feel bad about the realities of the day and every wonderful experience I had.

        We forget that we were once a bordering 3rd world, shoot em up, wild west country -ooooh, I have stories about shoot ’em ups too! Now, I’m just spoiled rotten and so are my pets. And that is even slapping me, and maybe a lot of you, in the face with this recession – no more pets for me, can’t afford the vet, even to put them down was half a mortgage payment – so shelters, just send the ones I would have adopted on their way to animal heavan.


      • Yes, I would pay a bit to go out and take pictures. Lets not make it too much though, or some people will not be able to go.

        I really think the tourism idea will catch on and boost us up. Could not catch the remarks from the safari lady, but I’ve read her website and an article she wrote.

        That should surely catch on in todays economy. Wasn’t it post Depression that people took to the roads to see the parks? Its a pretty cheap way to travel, even today. If we can learn to give up some luxuries – I used to love to camp as little as 5 years ago – not so much today. I was looking at those cute little aluminum A frames from post Depression time a couple of years back. I only have a Honda Element and it has limited towing capacity – still too close to UN-luxury for me – but the way things are going many of us might be lucky to have one! Looking up these little A-frames history is a hoot though.

        I’ve been couped up too long, just went out yesterday for the first time in weeks, and now I’m even more hyper gabby than usual. Sorry, I’ll log off.


  13. yeah the thousands of miles of barbed wire fence the doi places out to keep cattle in and wild horses out, works on those 2 animals. However, elk, deer, pronghorns can and DO jump those barbed wire fences. and bighorn sheep are usually up on mountianside areas where no other animals can climp rocks like they can.


    • Laura – one of your prior comments was about helicopters & wild life. In one of the videos posted by RT during the Calico roundup, there were a few Mule Deer running parallel to a herd of Wild Ones on thier way to the Cage. The deer were confused & panic-stricken, trying to suss out the danger their neighbors were stampeding away from.
      These were just the ones caught on camera.
      In an area as large as the Calicos, I find it hard to believe this was an isolated incident. Whatever incidents may occur far from an Observer’s point of view – and only from the pilot’s seat – we won’t ever know.
      Like so much of what occurs outside our view where Wild Ones & Captives are concerned, we’re forced to fill in the blanks ourselves.
      Buffalo hazed by helicopters are routinely injured as well as traumatized.
      What kind of mind-set do you have to possess to think that aerial ‘management’ & incidental trauma to other Wild Life is ‘humane’ ?
      Because these are ‘just animals’, and animals are LESS.


  14. I’d like to nominate Christine A. Jubic for Secretary of the Interior? Because that there’s a ‘new sheriff in town’ I could live with.


  15. Roxy, get a grip, PLEASE! yes, man is a predator, but our population is out of whack with the balance of nature, I read something about why that is, don’t know where, I’ll try to find it, but, please don’t justify this by using Bible quotations, there is no justification for this, for any of this, elephants are killed in Africa because of competition with COWS, so you are saying we should cull the herds with hunting rifles every other year or so??? who decides who dies then? there is an outcry everytime something like this is suggested for out of control deer populations in forest preserves, but you think it would be ok to do this to horses???? and by posting this, you HAVE given ammunition to those people who DO want open season declared on horses. if we would leave predators alone , there would not be a problem, and really there ISN”T a proven wild horse overpopulation problem anyway, where are the numbers to support it, outside of what passes as factual from BLM. where is it written that we’re the top of the food chain anyway???


    • No I was not tryint to say any of that norjustify a biblical acocunt, I’m not religous, just copying here what some others have brought up.

      I was trying to say, unseuccessfully, that after we get the moretorium and it works out, the slip in the law that Christine has brought to our attention is acknowledged, get ALL the horses returned to the range, and all of Craigs ideas are in place – what is the best way to do a control IF SOME CONTROL becomes scientifically needed in the future? In a natural setting such as hit by lightening or though roundups? Or some other option yet to be presented?

      Would this replace roundups? Not hardly – people will still want to adopt. Though stopping roundups would make the wild horse breeders happy because their horses willl become worth more.

      I think if we can get all the first parts in place for long enough there would be little to no need for any roundups or any control – but whatever goes exaclty according to plan?


    • We as a species have been said to be our own biggest hazard.

      I don’t know if that “pans” out statistically — in other words, are actually more human populations reduced by natural events or man-made events?

      There are more bacteria and insects, however, than there are people, and I know that for sure, there are insects that kill other insects. I wonder if there are bacteria-eating bacteria. There are birds that prey upon other birds. Only the vegetarian species of this earth appear to be immune to eating each other, but not immune to killing each other.

      Actually, we need to give ourselves a break, since we, ourselves, are something like 99% water. We do pretty good considering that.

      What was the question again?


      • Yes, there are bacteria eating bacteria. I am sure I saw that on a scientific show. It is a wonderous world, except for people. People are funny humans.


      • I think that does pan out statistically, because we are the only ones that manipulate our environments to the extent we do. Ants, beavers, etc. do extraordinary things, but do they damage their environment in such a way that it damages their self preservation like we do? And do they kill for the fun of it? I think everything they do is survival only. Well, no that is wrong, we have seen sharks play with seals, and cats play with birds.

        But, we are the only ones, that take wild animals and bend them to our will for entertainment only – Elephants, bears, lions and tigers, whales and dolphins and horses. Those cats and sharks will eventually eat their prey – is that correct?

        Horses are to me the most unique of all. As to the degree to which they can be domesticated, and with gentleness, unlike old day “breaking”. I brought up Zebras the other day – if they could be domesticated to the same extent Africa would be having the exact same conversations we are having about “wild” zebras competing with cattle – and actually they are having the same conversation – they just kill whatever is in the way (except a few fragile preserves still left that survive because of tourism and only tourism and a few rich purists and researchers – then the poachers are there too.


      • I think wars..manmade events have killed more people followed by natures plagues until the advent of modern medicine.


  16. Man is understood to be at the top of the food chain. This may not be written down anywhere for other species to refer to, however.

    Is there a food chain in the ocean?

    I wonder if the insects will finally have the last word. . . especially in the summertime.


    • right, man understands it that way, the other animals didn’t get a vote, and yes, there’s an ocean food chain, part of the reason what is happening in the Gulf will have such far reaching and long lasting consequences. It is not just killing the pelicans and dolphins, it is killing the oysters and plankton and coral and all the things that are necessary for the Gulf and ALL it’s animals, to live.


      • Saw the term “food web” concerning the ocean as well.

        What would happen if we removed the two most dominant:

        a) man; and

        b) killer whale

        Would there still be a food chain?
        How long would the “new order” last?

        Did food-chainers all evolve together? Or what?

        I don’t want large predators roaming around any more than Little Susie does; however, it would appear that the lack of large predators has turned our wilderness into something resembling Wal-Mart more than I care to think about.


      • Wish they had a back up plan?

        And we do of course hunt deer and fish the oceans, always have since fire, mabye we ate it raw before that?

        Anyway I did not bring this up as an original idea. Its on some of the very first PBS Cloud blogs by others, before I ever came along. and it keeps coming up here. All unanswered, because we don’t have an answer for worse case – what if we get everything we want – and I think we will, on what we have already laid out. Then some event comes along – what if my bunies cause it, or elk, or horses. I’d hate to let an emergency drive us back, under some 11th hour rider, to where we are now.

        I just wanted an answer for those hard core realists – they are only swayed by bottom line and an aswer for everything. But we will swin without them. Maybe if we just inject enough doubt they will go on the same trek I have.


    • Sure, the same food chain that has always been in the ocean – whoever/whatever is the strongest and ablest – man, the fisher man.


      • And, I just saw a show the other day about whales that remined me – the largest in size are NOT at the top of the food chain in the ocean at all – they only eat plankton.


    • think about it mankind has no claws, teeth that are no good for killing, we can’t run fast have limited climbing skills, no hooves or horns to fight with, a bear can catch fish better with his paws, a bird can fish better and fly..we can dig for roots and eat berries..the only thing we can kill is something as weak as ourselves, a human being..we need a tool for everything..a beaver can build a dam with its tail for crying out loud..maybe we are just envious..


      • Ok, one last post, because your post is so darn good I want to keep it going, but this really is the last one.

        Absolutley corrrect! Envious – yes. So much so that we cannot stand for an “animal” to survive without our intervention. Its about POWER, bending wildness and nature, and any other human being we can, to our will.

        This story you will love – my step dad and his wife bought the most beautiful northwest USA retirement place on the very edge of old growth with a good peek at the ocean. About 1/2 of their 2 acres (I think) was in fact old growth, some in the way of the ocean view, but most behind them. My dad, a great guy other than this story, being of “control over everything” European decente, went to get a permit to tear down most of that old growth front and back. He was told he had to get an environmental permit, and that besides his property value was based on the “old growth” because it was running out bordering on private property. Well, let me tell you, the following remarks about city hall and environmentalists would have made the hardest of the hard recoil. It was “his money, and City Hall, Greenies and property values be d_m_d!” One acre of clear land was not enough for him, his wife and one dog for six months out of the year. They sold and moved to a 1/2 acre, no ocean view. And this is a guy retired real estate! I repeat, people are funny humans!

        I’m not sure the killing each other is not just the human condition – or we would have learned something from history by now.

        PS see Robin Hood. Not like any you have seen before and connects to our current day afairs – and what beautiful horses!!!!!!!!. Not graphic either, a few arrows, but very well done, or I’m hardened by the likes of Brave Heart.


    • Yes, the tiniest of the tineist bacteria live off humans, and we would not survive without them, and then some humans in the most frigid parts of the world would not survive without eating the largest of them all – the whales.

      An amazing awesome system isn’t it?


  17. FYI, 6-18 blm update on horses at Fallon NV facility:
    3 more dead: i cryptochoid stallion was euthanized rather than do the surgery; one gelding found dead in his pen, one stallion w/broken neck euthanized.
    they have started gelding the 5 yr and older stallions; so, is this the death knell for the Tri-State complex and the Soldier Meadows sanctuary???
    It seems that no matter what advocsates do, BLM is going on with their plan;


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