Horse News

Outrage Continues Over Bloody BLM Wild Horse Stampede in NV

Press Release from Grass Roots Horse

First Amendment Rights Don’t Exist with the U.S. Government

One of the wounded of the BLM's Silver King tragedy ~ photo by Laura Leigh

Legal documents were filed in Reno, NV on October 4, 2010 adding to the Temporary Restraining Order Motion that was filed earlier by Laura Leigh against Ken Salazar, Dept. of Interior, Robert Abbey, Bureau of Land Management and Ron Wenker, NV State Director of BLM.

The legal action asks for full accountability and transparency from the Bureau of Land Management as they capture wild horses from the Silver King herd in Nevada. Plaintiff Laura Leigh is a photojournalist and videographer whose work documenting wild horses is gaining international attention. The lawsuit addresses the BLM’s violation of the First Amendment right for the public to witness and report on the government in action, specifically the capture of wild horses and the denial to allow access to enable meaningful reporting.

This right was previously upheld in court decision made by the Honorable Larry Hicks in the July 2010 case on the Owyhee, Rock Creek, Little Humboldt wild horse roundups which closed public lands.

As evidence mounts pointing to retaliatory measures by the BLM against Leigh by allowing her and another member of the public even less access to document  the roundup operations, (which the BLM euphemistically refers to as “gathers”), it becomes increasingly clear that public and press observations are critical.

“I left in disgust over the constant battle over meaningful access. I left three trap sites as my access to witness the activities of the contractor during the moment of capture was non-existent,” said Laura Leigh.

When the boundaries to access were pushed on Wednesday, October 6, 2010, the one moment the public and press were able to witness was the death of a Silver King stallion that apparently broke his neck on one of the fencing panels and went down hard.

The Silver King lawsuit is all about “access” to witness and document the activities during and after the round ups.  “Support for this legal action is critical and it is about accountability for the wild horses –horses that were deemed so important by Congress that they warranted protection,” said the plaintiff Leigh. “We are failing these horses from the range all the way through. We don’t really even know where ‘all the way through’ is since we have no verification of where they are taken or where they ultimately end up,” she continued.

With severely limited access, Laura Leigh could see and pointed out areas that could create a potentially deadly safety issue, specifically a big gap from a loading ramp onto a trailer where foals had been kept separated from their mothers for five hours. Nothing was done to remedy the unsafe condition and a foal did fall through.

Filmmaker Elizabeth Slagsvol flew in from the East Coast and then drove twelve hours to attend one day out of the only two scheduled public observation days for the Silver King roundup which is set to last about three weeks. “I left,” said Beth on Tuesday, October 5, 2010 after she had traveled on good faith that she would be able to witness and document the roundups at the public observation day. “You couldn’t see anything at all. I told Chris (referring to Chris Hannefield, BLM public relations contact) this wasn’t the deal and he replied, without facing her, ‘there is no deal,’ ” said Slagsvol.  The idea of scheduling a public observation day is for the public to observe. Initially the BLM intended to close public lands for this roundup, but when the Silver King lawsuit was filed, the BLM reversed itself within twenty four hours of filing, keeping public lands open and scheduling two observation days.

The numbers posted by the BLM on their daily gather reports, which do not appear daily, show the numbers of wild horses captured and shipped, and do not match records of horses arriving at their intended destinations. “What is really going on out there?” asks Maureen VanDerStad of Grass Roots Horse, the equine welfare and mustang advocacy group that is supporting the legal actions. “We have a right to know and the public wants to know what is happening to these animals and where are they going. The BLM has lost any trust and confidence the public may have had in the program and the courts are our only option for remedy as well as our only hope of saving these horses that are our national treasure.”

The legal filings, including photographs, are available on the legal page of http://www.grassrootshorse.com

Grass Roots Horse is a non-profit equine welfare and mustang advocacy group that is supporting the legal actions.  To support this critical endeavor, please visit http://www.grassrootshorse.com

41 replies »

  1. WELL IF THE BLM THINKS THEY ARE DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT AND IN A HUMANE WAY , WHY ARE THE KEEPING IT FROM BEING PUBLIC?? IF YOU ARE BEING HONEST (BLM) WHICH THEY ARE NOT. THEN ANYONE SHOULD BE ABLE TO OBSERVE THEIR HANDLINGS OF THE MUSTANGS. SOUNDS LIKE BLM HAS A LOT TO HIDE AND KEEP FROM THE ORDINARY PERSON “HMM” SOUNDS FISHY TO ME. I JUST HOPE AN PRAY FOR ALL THE MUSTANGS AND ALL THE PEOPLE THAT ARE INVOLVED IN HELPING THEM REMAIN FREE AND UNHURT THAT THESE BARBARIC SEIZURES STOP SOON. I PRAY FOR YOU ALL
    LYDIA

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  2. Where or where is Don Glenn? Who is Don Glenn? Why is there Don Glenn? What does Don Glenn do? When Does Don Glenn do anything? How does Don Glenn do anything? Is there really a chain of command or is there just time in service? Twenty or thirty years of one year of experience. Killings and deaths are not data entry for spread sheets and power point presentations.
    As an old cowboy told me when I was young. Your job is not to be useless as teats on a boar hog now get to work.

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    • Well said, RJ Daum. We all must ‘get to work’. If you are calling and writing please keep doing it. If you can donate to Grass Roots Horse for Laura and the lawsuits, Please help All you can. If you can give a little every week or month it would be the greatest help. Support the wild ones and those you know are out there doing all they can. Keep up your ‘computer campaign’ and your phone calls because it is our backbone.

      We have been highly criticized here and RT has been slammed by the BLM apologist. There is nothing here for any of us to be ashamed of. This blog has maintained high integrity and allowed all challengers to come and flex their views. Those who have been here have had great insights and fine opinions worth voicing. Even the Apologist was here and we showed him respect when he showed it to us. Too bad he has lost that ability. But we are a force of our own in the name of the wild ones. mar

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      • Thank you for sharing the link to the Moriah story and photos. I have passed it on to others who I hope will pass it on. The story includes the phrase, “what have we done” … and this just keeps chiming in my head … what have we done to these wild ones and inevitably to our children and grandchildren… I am so sad…

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      • Mar or anyone that has seen this video…

        Who is that employee that tied his horse so close to the stud? It seems like it was an almost deliberate thing to do. We don’t see the entire area but why pick that exact spot? He looked like he was headed to the next panel but changed his mind just to annoy the stud.

        So now we know. All those horses that have been ramming the corrals aren’t just doing so for no reason. The Killtoors are setting the horses off.

        Silence is golden. The Bulls Lies and Menegele Agency can’t say anything to put a positive spin on the video. So that make themselves scarce. I wonder what Lili would say to this video? The video in this case doesn’t need anyone translating–its there to see. The stud rams the fence, gets up and falls at the other end of the corral. The BLM employee or Killtoor just stands there with his finger up his hind end. He never tries to move his horse away from the stud.

        How can we get this person charged with this horses murder? His actions killed that stud.

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  3. Right you are, Lydia. If there were nothing to hide, the BLM wouldn’t be going to these lengths to be sure no one can see anything. This is NOT transparency! Has anyone told Obama that the DOI and BLM are making a mockery of his administration that was elected on a pledge of transparency? Has the BLM forgotten that the very people they are depriving of their First Amendment rights are also the ones paying their salaries? Something is definitely screwed up here, big time, and most unfortunately the horses are the ones paying the price in unnecessary pain and suffering.

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  4. Which Senators have have taken a stand on this– a REAL stand. It is, after all, a VERY BIG issue, as it deals with the theft of our public lands and Congressional oversight. It sounds as though all but a very few need to GO.

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      • “To the best of my knowledge”, there is a maximum time limit before judicial action must be taken. We may be seeing some action soon. And since we are not going away……

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  5. Sorry I hit enter by accident…

    Slaughterczar leaves office. Which leaves exactly what after he goes bye bye?

    I think past comments by Sue Cattoor and Dave is very telling. And the fact that all these roundups occur with little to no transparency tells me that we have horses who aren’t living to tell the stories.

    HoneyBandit is a classic example of Bulls Lies and Menegele and what they are about.

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  6. Calling on all EQUINE ANGELS and SPIRITS for the HORSES. This must be stopped now Enough is Enough.The BLM/GOV is a dirty filthy group of money grubbers , taking advantage od our american horses and WILD MUSTANGS and BURROS.Lets all join in unison NOW.Stop THE GATHERS of OUR AMERICAN HERITAGE NOW.Impeachment sounds good to me.SAVE our AMERICAN EQUINES and ALL WILD MUSTANGS and BURROS.Lets show WA.D.C.who we are and how strong we have become.Stop all american mustangs and all american horses from gatherings for the ruby/El paso pipeline.UNTIL ALL AMERICAN HORSES ARE SAFE FROM SLAUGHTER< NEGLECT and ABUSE.

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    • I agree with you …. we cannot stop until the mustang roundups end and the slaughter pipeline is closed forever. Our American horses are too precious.

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  7. We will not go away. Thank God you have been patient and steadfast. I will never stop now – not until the horses and bunrros are protected forever against the threat of these terrible acts of violence. I have lots of ideas. They wake me up in the middle of the night with visions of babies wide eyed being lifted into trailers by their tails and necks and stuffed up next to other babies, of strings of horses so exhausted they can hardly lope because they have been running for hours while the helicopter gathered up one band after another, stallions screaming and rearing at each other furious at being so close to each other and fearing for their families. And so I think of better ways to make their life peaceful while respecting their dignity and right to their needs. And so can anyone else.
    I got involved in a discussion thread on the subject of the roundups when one of the more deadly opinioned participants revealed he was a 5-generation cattle family. Cold fear set in as I realized that the roundups in the news was not news. It was the report of a long standing fued against our horses. The laws I thought were in place protecting our horses and burros had been undermined. I had become complacent. The consequencs for the animals as a result of this busy busy life; the urgency of their situation hit me so deeply I became nauseous. Every horse, donkey and burro I ever knew I loved dearly for all their bravery, fear, vulnerable, soft eyed, enduring, honesty and faithful stoicism. The only reason I can think of to hurt one of these creatures would be irrational and disturbing malfeasance. I personally cannot sit by – now that I know, I can’t un-know.

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    • Janet,
      You said, “now that I know, I can’t un-know.” Thank you for saying it. I have said this over and over again … anyone that knows about this illegal abuse to our wild ones and does nothing is just as guilty as those that are participating. Every little thing we can do (educating ourselves on the illegal and immoral abuse; letters to officials and media; talking about it to friends and family; money to support those out on the front lines; adopting an animal … ANYTHING we are capable of doing)… we must do … just a little bit each day … and as much as we would like to “look the other way” and not see this atrocities … we have to keep looking and learning and doing what we can. Thank you to all who have the courage to continue this fight. Heavens knows our wild ones have shown us what courage is all about.
      Grandma

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  8. We need something MUCH FASTER THEN LAWSUITS…..AND MUCH HIGHER! Like only one Congress person with balls or grit, who dares to file an emergency Congressional hearing and investigation of the DOI/BLM. Congress must be reminded, that 2 yrs ago the BLM was about to kill all 35 000 Mstangs, because of lack of $$$$ to take care of them. Now they should have about 47 000 give or take. The public has a right to know the exact number of horses, their whereabouts, how many and which facility? The public NEED TO BE ABLE TO ACCESS ALL OF THE HOLDING FACILITIES, IN THE NAME OF TRANSPARENCY OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS! Where are the 300 Calico foals??? Most of all WE AND THE CONGRESS NEED TO CALL UP ON THE BLM, TO SEE IF THEY HAVE A PLAN TO SUPPORT THESE CAPTURED HORSES, AND PROTECT THEM FROM HARM, TREAT THEM HUMANELY, LIKE THEY ARE REQUIRED TO DO SO UNDER LAW!!! Untill we have legitimate answers ALL FURTHER ROUNDUPS MUST BE CANCELLED!!! The President and Congress MUST UNDERSTAND, THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT HORSES! THIS IS ABOUT A “FAILED CAMPAIGN PROMISE OF “A NEW TRANSPARENT GOVERNMENT…..WITH THE PARTICIPATION OF THE PEOPLE, WHO HELPED ELECT THIS PRESIDENT AND A DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY GOV’T” Congress MUST UNDERSTAND, THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF ANGRY, DISILLUSIONED VOTERS OUT HERE!!! Wild Horses became a major POLITICAL ISSUE!!!

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  9. Just imagine what this would be like if it wasn’t for Laura Leigh, RT Fitch, the cloud foundation, Madeleine Pickens, George Knapp and so, so many people helping to keep BLM honest. We would not have ANY wild horses left ANYWHERE. My hat is off to all of you working in the trenches. Please keep working for the horses. That is my pray. If anyone has even a dollar or ten left over, don’t buy that starbucks, donate it for wild horse lawsuits. Coffee tastes better at home anyways and not so much hassle getting it. I donate as I can. Thank you Thank You for working so hard for the wild horses and for me who wishes I could be there to help.

    I hope the horse in the picture gets her wound cleaned throughly with antibiotics and sutured. This is sad beyond words.

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  10. When we were living in Reno, Nevada some 12 years ago, we often drove out on beautiful days to catch glimpses of these magnificent animals. What is being done today is nothing short of criminal! There is a breed of self righteous people on this planet that are truly nauseating and very dangerous. I’m talking about the BLM, the seal clubbers, the dolphin-whale hunters, Rhino and Tiger poachers, people who work in animal vivisection laboratories, et al who have some idea in their stupid little heads that everything on our planet is fair game for them to use and abuse as they see fit and they, in their own minds, are the final word on how it must be for the rest of us. They are the most disgusting individuals placing themselves above the laws and worse yet heartfelt, desperate pleas from decent and caring people who seek to protect animals and people alike. I have signed so many petitions against the BLM’s actions, NASA’s hellbent radiation experiments on monkeys, Canada’s anual seal clubbing, the Ghadamai massacre and still these people grind on, remorseless and merciless.

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  11. The rougher the treatment…the more deaths via trauma, injuries and selective murder by contractor (I refuse to call what they do euthanasia) This is precisely what the DOI, USDA and state killers want; off the range with the most deaths possible so they don’t have to adopt or pen them in perpetuity.

    Really not hard to figure out.

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  12. Excerpt from the Elko Daily News 10/8/2010:

    Nevada’s Changing Landscape

    “Companies are clamoring to construct renewable energy projects across Nevada’s wide open spaces. The Bureau of Land Management is processing literally dozens of such proposals.

    Many of these proposals plan for solar projects. Sites consisting of solar panels call for as much as 2,000 acres of cleared ground to be covered with long rows of solar panels. The sites will include processing buildings, service roads and transmission lines. Cleared ground will be kept bare throughout the project’s life. On our multiple-use public lands, these sites will be dedicated to one use, the production of electricity and therefore carry no value for vegetation, wildlife or livestock.”

    Any questions?

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    • This is a gigantic subject and can’t be put into just a few words. BLM (who technically owns NO land … “WE” own it!) is selling off our land to the energy hogs for a pittance of its monetary value … not to mention our personal value. For example, a few of us were recently able to get letters of objection off to the BLM for an upcoming 800 acre sale in Churchill Co. NV. This particular piece is BLM land that is almost surrounded by HMA land; Clan Alpine HMA to the west and north, New-Pass Ravenswood to the north and NE, with Callaghan and Destoya and Augusta nearby. This is land that is legally dedicated to our wild ones by law and BLM is selling it right out from under us. This particular land is likely a “bridge” between our wild herds which leads to increasing the genetic viability of the horses … not to mention the loss of this land very likely leads to the loss of water for these animals in addition to grazing land. Do you see what I see? Another example of BLM’s legal means of eliminating our wild ones and we the owners of these lands and animals … are being told to shut up and look the other way because the BLM is going to figure out any way they can to eliminate our animals and our rights and sell our land to the “energy hogs”.
      I suggest that all of us follow the upcoming sale proposals of our BLM land and make official objections to these sales. Upcoming sale information can be found on the “Federal Register” (google it). The information is not always easy to find (another BLM tactic) but don’t give up. When you discover an upcoming sale … please post it on “Horse’s Heart” (with Fitch’s approval) and also tell everyone you know to write and object to the selling/stealing of our land. If BLM gets no objections … they automatically go ahead and sell it any way the want for any price. We must object to all of these sales.
      With the help of other’s I have put together a sample letter to use for these objections. Please feel free to use it and edit it any way you see fit to do. In my letter, I forgot to mention the water rights that might be lost (fenced in) to wildlife and I also forgot to ask the price being asked … so I will amend this next time and hope you will also. Below is my letter. Perhaps you will want to save it to use (and edit) on any upcoming sales that we hear of? This particular sale objection date is past so don’t bother to send this but we can use this letter as a SAMPLE for upcoming sales. I know I will be doing exactly that. I do this in respect for the courage of “our wild ones”.

      DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
      Bureau of Land Management
      Field Manager,
      BLM Stillwater Field Office, 5665
      Morgan Mill Road, Carson City, Nevada 89701
      e-mail: ccfoweb@nv.blm.gov

      October 6, 2010

      Re: [LLNVC01000 L71220000.EU0000
      LVTFF0900400 241A; N–87749; 10–08807;
      MO# 4500012544; TAS: 14X5260]
      Notice of Realty Action: Proposed sale
      of Public Lands, Churchill County, NV

      I write to object to the proposed sale of the above referenced Public Lands described as 800 acres in Churchill County, Nevada, USA, for the following reasons:

      1. The sale of these public acres will be a significant loss to an area of outstanding desert landscape that is currently available to the public for their pure enjoyment of the land. I personally think that the Nevada desert is quite extraordinary and I have visited it throughout my whole life with much satisfaction. The sale of this land would prevent myself and others from ever enjoying this public land again.
      2. Future historical and biological studies on this land will forever be off-limits to the scientific community.
      3. Significant negative impact on local and migratory wildlife including deer, pheasant, quail, chukkar, cougar, rabbit, dove, tortoise, wild horses and burros.
      4. Recent BLM sales are documented and verify that public lands are being sold to large energy corporations for the purpose of mining, natural gas and oil exploration. These corporations are known not only to temporarily scar the land in their pursuits but it is widely believed by the scientific community that their actions cause long term and permanent detrimental effects on the land that cannot be reversed. Your proposed direct sale to Travis Farm does not guarantee this land will be used only for farming and obviously could be resold to energy corporations.
      5. Recent sales of our public land are sold at prices that are drastically under evaluated. I refer in particular to the BLM sale of September 10, 2010 when the land sold for prices ranging from $2 to $18.50 per acre. Unimproved property in the Lovelock, Nevada area (near this proposed sale) is currently being offered at approximately $500 per acre. [See example: Frontier Properties USA, 80 acre parsel, lots 4&5, section 17, township 29N, R 36E] Has an appraisal report been done on this proposed land you wish to offer for sale? If so, what market approach was used, by whom was this report done and what was the outcome?
      6. There is no benefit to the citizens of the United States whose taxes paid for this land.
      7. How does BLM justify this sale to be in the public’s best interest?

      BLM is selling off public treasured land that is of great historical and natural significance. I am completely opposed to this sale. Please sustain, vacate or modify this realty action immediately. Your receipt of this written notice of objection is requested in addition to your written response. Thank you for allowing me to respond to this land sale notice.
      Very Sincerely,

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      • Shirley,
        You asked, “How can the damn BLM sell it when they don’t OWN IT???????”
        This is THE question. If these lands are “public lands” and these wild horses/burros belong to the “public” … then who is the public? You and me? I know there are regulations that allow these sales and you and I are allowed to object but you and I both need someone to explain the answer to your question. Can someone please explain this to Shirley and I – this may seem basic … but actually it is the bottom line to many of our protests. We do know that abuse to any animal, as we have seen done by the contractors hired by the BLM, is unforgivable but this “who owns these lands and animals” question is also important in order to help us fight for the rights of the animals. I will be losing some good sleep trying to figure this out! Thank you for asking. Someone, please help Shirley and I to understand. Thank you.
        Grandma

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      • Thanks GG. I wonder if that stupid Burns amendment somehow gave them permission to sell. I’ll have to re read the thing.

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  13. I don’t understand how Congress funds roundups and expedites the sale/leases of/on public lands when there are specific laws (NEPA, 1971 WH&B, etc), regulations and proceedure requirements on the books that the funding and sales specifically are in direct violation of Federal law. Do they really think no one cares or is paying attention?

    What was the mortgage/money bill the Senate (I’m really starting to dislike that chamber) slithered through in it’s recent last hours? That’s right…a bill unanimously passed, without debate that would SPEED UP FORECLOSURES! Thankfully the Prez has vetoed the bill. And then Horse Killin’ Harry (Sen Reid) has the guts to be interviewed and say that there should be an immediate freeze on foreclosiures because no one is checking the paperwork (many big lenders have frozen foreclosures and DAs across many jurisdictions are investigating for legal actions).

    Either these people are complete idiots or the biggest collection of hypocrites known to Man….heaven help us/US….heaven help the equines because they won’t get it from those crooks inDC.

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  14. Thank you GG for being on top of the land sale issue– you also posted info several weeks ago– land at $2 per acre?? We are being robbed– our govt. is selling us down the creek–horses/burros/land! And then Obama asks for $15 to keep the “promise” alive! Hey that’s 7 acres of Federal land— who’s buying it? Why is it for sale? What’s going to happen to it? Outrageous! Pressure on. Phone calls to the Pres,

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    • If anyone finds similar upcoming “Notice of Realty Action: Proposed sale of Public Land” by the BLM that warrants an objection letter, perhaps you will let us all know about it so we can write our objection comments … especially if it is near any Herd Areas or could effect the animals’ access to water rights or seasonal migration etc. Thank you.

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  15. GG – I’m really glad you were already on this. I’m in the Midwest so not familiar with the Herd Areas. Are there any current maps available of the HMA’s?

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  16. Many of you already know but in case someone is new to this site and fight … please know that you can write a comment/objection to the upcoming Antelope Valley Wild Horse roundup that is planned for the near future. Your comments must be received by no later than the 19th of this month. Please take a few minutes to educate yourself on this gather and then write to them plus ask your friends and family to do the same. Information is available at:

    Click to access Antelope_Complex_EA_letter.pdf

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