Horse News

BLM Issues Biased Report to Intentionally Mislead Congress and Public on Wild Horse Issue

By: American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign

Hand Picked Panel Distorts Truth to Favor BLM’s Cruelty

WASHINGTON, D.C. Dec. 3, 2010 – Today, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) – a coalition of 40 leading public interest, environmental, and humane organizations – criticized and labeled as “biased and politically motivated” the issuance of an Interior DepartmentBureau of Land Management (BLM) report on the treatment of wild horses in government roundups. Its release coincides with Congress finalizing of 2011 fiscal legislation in which BLM’s wild horse budget will be allocated.

The report (“Independent Designated Observer Pilot Program, October 2010”) glosses over the humane issues that have triggered Congressional concern. It was created by a hand-picked organization, the American Horse Preservation Association which is led by BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board’s chair Robyn Lohnes. The four individuals employed to write the report have backgrounds in agriculture and domestic horses, but lack hands on wild horse experience. The majority have been vocal advocates of horse slaughter.

“This biased report is an attempt to deflect increased scrutiny on and public opposition to the BLM’s inhumane wild horse roundups,” said Suzanne Roy, AWHPC Campaign Director. “The report’s authors do not have any wild horse handling experience and its conclusions are not credible and lack scientific validity.”

She noted that in July, more than 54 members of Congresses wrote to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar expressing their concerns and calling for a halt to the round ups. Department spokespersons have admitted (video available here) that they have a difficult time explaining the agency’s treatment of wild horses to the public, and as a result, the BLM has severely restricted public observation at most roundups this year.

“The Interior Department’s decision to work with one organization rather than with the diverse and numerous organizations that have hands-on experience with wild horses, outlines the intention behind and problems with the report,” Roy continued. “We find it highly objectionable and offensive that the agency is using one organization as a voice for ‘humane observation’ when there are other organizations and individuals better qualified to address this issue.”

Many findings in the report defy credibility, including:

* The helicopters used to stampede horses into BLM trap pens are “reasonably quiet, no louder than a riding mower.”
* BLM and contractors “showed ability to review, assess and adapt procedures to ensure the care and well being of animals to the best of their ability” with regard to the water intoxication deaths of 13 wild horses, who had been stampeded in summer desert heat in Nevada. By contrast, an equine veterinarian with 24 years experience reviewed the circumstances of that situation and concluded that the BLM’s actions constituted, “negligent management” and a “lapse of professional judgment.”

Experts with wild horse experience have reached a different conclusion regarding BLM wild horse roundups. One of them, Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick, director of science and conservation biology at ZooMontana, in Billings, Montana told National Geographic in 2009:

“I’m not a bunny hugger, but I’ll never attend another gather as long as I live. They’re flat-out inhumane.”

Kirkpatrick has spent more than 30 years studying wild horses and developing successful fertility control programs for the animals.

In addition, the Internet is populated with video, photographs and eyewitness accounts of the trauma, injury and suffering wild horses are subjected to during the course of roundups and capture. A few such incidents include:

* Owyhee roundup: the government contractor shot a mare and foal on the range without reporting these deaths until after public member found the dead bodies
* Silver King roundup: contractor actions caused stallion death. After the contractor tied a saddle horse to the pen where a stallion and his mare were held; the stallion broke his neck when charging the pen where the saddle horse was tied
* Calico roundup: foals were chased by helicopters for so long, their hooves were destroyed (hoof slough) and the foals were killed

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. Supported by a coalition of over 40 organizations, its grassroots campaign seeks:

* A suspension of roundups in all but verifiable emergency situations while the entire BLM wild horse program undergoes objective and scientific review;
* Higher Appropriate Management Levels (AML) for wild horses on those rangelands designated for them;
* Implementation of in-the-wild management, which would keep wild horses on the range and save taxpayers millions annually by avoiding the mass removal and stockpiling wild horses in government holding facilities

31 replies »

  1. first two email addresses not valid. Will find if possible and resend.
    Sent: 12/4/2010 1:36:22 P.M. Mountain Standard Time
    Subj: BLM Board Inquiry

    To whom it may concern:
    In light of recent events during gather operations, new concerns of the discussed animal welfare within your agency arose. I met most of you during the Nat’l BLM Advisory Board meeting here in Denver in June. The discussions on welfare and transparency seemed to be a new reached milestone of a proposed pro-active partnership, yet results remain to be seen. Whilst implementing a balance and progress on both fronts in a true manner is a goal that could be achieved – the lack of representation of wild horse groups within your Board impedes such said goal.
    You might not be aware of all that is going on out there. BLM is a big outfit and improvements can’t happen overnight. Yet, your Board requires the incorporation of at least one representative to wild horse groups, as we have plenty of experts available. If BLM’s pledges and public reports carry any weight, then incidents such as below can and must be prevented, see link of helicopter incident (highlighted in yellow). The danger and unprofessionalism did occur, and do not reflect the findings in your RECENT WILD HORSE REPORT, nor did it initiate filing a complaint with FAA.
    As the national pressure on your program has increased, a campaign to get a reprehension on the make up of your Board seems long overdue. As of now, it is representing special interests only, and your promises in Denver do not reflect the current situation. The devise for a safe future for America’s wild horses calls for a fair representation thereof. Improvement on animal welfare, prevention of incidents such as below and reform within your Board for the wild equid program are vital and necessary to bear fruit in reaching the goal discussed in Denver.
    The below thread contains links to cruel incidents, which must stop. These took place in OTHER THAN THE STAGED ROUND UPS you released within your WILD HORSE REPORT. They must not be dismissed or ignored as a routine of your program. The addition of a wild horse group Board member will ensure the pro-active partnership or the transparency the meeting in June discussed. With an allocated budget of $ 579,164, it seems very possible and giving the American public and advocates a voice to ensure and improve your program.


  2. You would think there would be a penalty for a Government Agency when they lie to Congress, wouldnt ya think???? I have never seen more lies coming from an Agency , the worst part is they will get away with there deceit and lies ….


  3. I’ve written to all four ladies who were the hand picked expert observers. I notice the report says they were introduced to the contractor and others before the gathers. If everyone knew why they were there, it wouldn’t be too hard for Catoor’s crew to be on their best behavior for a few days. If they get a pretty good report, BLM says, “We did most of it right, Nobody’s perfect. We don’t need to change.”

    I don’t think these ladies knew how they were being used.


    • This is a good point, Diana. This is how we always hear about the visitations of BLM handpicked observers… Observations need to be made without any fanfare or revealing the observers to the contractors and BLM. There should not be special treatment for any unless it is for all. We know Cattoors will set up a day for any special observers and do everything possible to make it look smooth and unstressful on the horses and burros. But because this treatment they give these observers takes extra time they are back on track as soon as the observers are gone. I know Laura has seen this and been there when the privileged observer was and then when they were gone and it was business as usual again. There is always the ability to control what is going on enough to make this kind of report seem rather shallow. BLM has also been known to change reports with their own rewrites of their employees reports. mar


      • THAT would be an independent observation!!

        No briefing beforehand, no handholding, no Smilin’ Dave and his gentle demeanor – just the raw, unprocessed in-yer-face brutality of a roundup.

        While I read that report, I kept thinking about that little blue-black foal, the escapee from Twin Peaks and his family. He ran at least 20 miles that day – when they could have simply let the family go and brought them back the next day. The contractors utilized that trap site for about a week before moving on.

        Where was the humanity in running that infant over that terrain twice in one day – three times if you count their escape?


  4. This situation has been going on covertly since the 1971 Act was signed. The outrage has wratcheded up in the last decades and gaining speed….it stynies the covert killers beyond their miniscules intellects.


    This is why Abbutt and Goreman continue the carnage….they are US CONGRESS AND STATE SANCTIONED AND FUNDED!

    And both “parties” do it.


  5. After reading the report, I find it difficult to classify it as ‘independent’; when a planned face to face with Bureau wranglers, the contractor & his crew, when access is extremely up close and personal and opinions important, it’s a pretty good bet the roundup crew won’t be wearing their fangs for this PARTICULAR round-up.

    All incidents observed where fatalities and mortal injuries occured are found to be the ‘fault’ of our animals (how dare they – fight for their freedom or run while dehydrated, when these dear people only want to save them…), and the enormous and noisy gatherings of Wild Horse Observers (’cause it spooks the Horses from their appointed destinies when 11 people and two dozen agents of the Bureau – half a mile away – make sudden movements…).

    Most of the recommendations are couched as if our animals are livestock, not Wild Horses and certainly NOT wildlife. And many references to Temple Grandin (who has written volumes of work on livestock and poultry welfare but I could not find her works on Wild Equines; perhaps they exist but I could not find any.)

    While I didn’t work too hard to find any common ground with the observers in the report, it is a milquetoast, wishywashy bleached out dishrag of a report with recommendations to the Bureau that will certainly be ignored as all prior recommendations have. But it paints the Bureau and the contractors in a pretty favorable light – one, strangely, Wild Horse Advocates have rarely been witness to.


  6. Again…the creeps that are the BLM, USDA, state ag hags that whack wild equines are CONTINUALLY given the cash to do same.



  7. Excellent comments, Monika. Unfortumately there have been very qualified wild horse advocates who have applied for positions on the Advisory Board but they were rejected.
    I found it almost laughable that Robin Lohnes, who has been on the Advisory Board for years , actually hired the “experts” who did the report. Her organization does not even have a web site and she once called me to “explain” the BLM to me. I tried to be polite but after an hour of being talked down to I finally started talking back. I think she has been very cozy with the BLM for years and has done nothing to help our wild horses. That she is involved with this report sure makes me think it stinks to high heaven. I sense a very evil plan under all of this .Getting funds may be only part of it. Slaughter may well be another part. It all spells bad news for our wild horses. .


  8. There is far too much evidence to the contrary for this report to have any credence. The “activists” have all been very active and the real truth has been well documented.


  9. The BLM is not conducting “cruelty” on horses. These horses are managed in a very unique way. They have protections that even endangered species do not have. Hunting permits are not issued for horses like they are for wildlife. They are not slaughtered, even though the BLM could by the Burns Amendment. They are not rotated from grazing area to grazing area like cattle. They are not fed, provided water, or salt licks. They have a unique management on rangelands and the more the BLM is pressured by society, the more costly horse management becomes. This will hinder the program in the long run, and as a result, the horses too.

    I wish I could go to this meeting. I will be eagerly awaiting what management strategies they come up with to make the program more viable, and keep our horses on rangelands that full of wonderful biodiversity.


  10. SFTHH Oct. 16, 2010

    By their own accounting the BLM euthanized a 7 month old colt after it broke its leg during the stampede and another mare was put down due to “heart” conditions after being roped. Two horses killed with the total tally gathered for the day standing at only four. 6 horses terrorized and only 4 survived. That is a 30% mortality rate!


  11. Humane Observer: Elyse Gardner
    Madeleine Pickens wrote an articulate letter to Bob Abbey which I encourage all to read. She is right on point.

    It was a dream of mine after the Pryor Mountain roundup of September 2009, that the horses would never again be subjected in silent anonymity to roundups with only their captors present, with no cameras, no one there as a witness on their behalf. Thanks to so many people, that dream is almost a reality. People are showing up with cameras and Congress, and the world, are now seeing that wild horses and burros are not starving, as BLM has told the public for years, as though BLM were doing them a favor by removing them from their homes.
    Congress and the American taxpayer are now firsthand witnesses to the real fear, suffering, and cruelty the horses all face as a result of these roundups despite BLM’s attempts to whitewash its callous behaviors through the handpicking of “humane observers,” most of whom are vocal horse slaughter proponents.
    The Bureau of Land Management continues to try and perpetrate the myth that roundups are gentle and humane. Likewise, the new report by BLM’s handpicked “Independent Designated Observers” tries to cast roundups in a positive light despite mounds of evidence — even their own evidence — to the contrary. For example, they note that in the Stinking Water roundup:
    …a 23 year old stallion jumped out of the pen and escaped the trap site. About 1/2 mile from trap (sic), he was subsequently roped and his legs were tied while in a recumbent position, and eventually was transported in a two-compartment stock horse trailer back to the Burns Corrals.
    “Eventually transported”? Good night, how long did this older, proud and free stallion have to lay there hogtied in the heat? What was so important that they couldn’t allow this magnificent animal who managed to jump out of the pen, like Freedom did, to remain free? Didn’t he earn that? Imagine chasing down and hogtying Freedom: it’s the same thing.


  12. I am glad you confirmed that Robin Lohnes did not have a web site. I looked for one, also. The BLM should not be able to hand pick the people who evaluate their round-ups. The contractor and wranglers should not even know they are there. Most of this agency is so self-serving and corrupt, it should be dismantled from top to bottom.

    Bob Abbey’s acceptance of a speaking position as well as his presence at this meeting have really underscored the very principle Laura has been working for which is to have these round-ups open to the public and press. Who’s counting the horses? The way this agency is running round-ups and closing public observation of holding facilities, if they are not doing anything wrong, it would be in their best interest for the public to be able to see that. Now through their own missteps, they have intensified public suspicions and invited greater scrutiny.

    There is every reason to believe that wild horses and burros are disappearing from holding pens at trap sites and at short and long term holding facilities. I read the Peer Reviewed White Paper Report about BLM’s well established and intra-agency acceptance of wild horses and burros disappearing in the middle of the night. What other explanation is there for their bizarre behavior. If they were doing their job humanely, as they claim, they would want witnesses. Unless there is something else much more sinister going on. By holding these round-ups in the middle of nowhere, on private property, they can do whatever they want.

    Just my opinion, but I think Bob Abbey knows that unauthorized sale of young, healthy, animals—probably the pick of the herds— is going on “off the books” with under the table payments. Has anyone investigated any BLM employees living above the standard for their pay grade? If gathering more horses than were reflected in the official counts, triple freeze branding the same number, and other tricks were going on then, there is absolutely no proof that it still isn’t going on. If this was standard practice in 1995 and the investigation got fairly far along before it was thrown under the bus by the DOI Secretary, what’s to make any BLM employee engaging in these practices fear detection or fear losing a job, being fined, or imprisoned. No, not when that DOI Secretary replaced the BLM Director rather than have a scandal over employees selling wild horses and burros.under the radar to slaughter.

    Most people who go to conferences like this know that deals aren’t made during meetings. They are made on golf courses, at dinner, over cocktails, or during your morning workout. By being present, Mr. Abbey makes himself available for brokering back-room deals with groups whose interest in advancing horse slaughter should not dove tail with his. If they aren’t interested in slaughtering wild horses and burros, they should have invited the Director of Agriculture instead.


  13. Higher Appropriate Management Levels (AML). I think this needs to be applied to BLM. 😉

    I was watching the Platt Report this morning and they had good ol’ boy Dave Freudanthal (Guv of WY) on this morning talking about how important it is that WY be pilfered for oil and gas. My first thought was maybe we should secede WY, MT, ID to the gas and cattle hogs. With a Post Article (Washington) on the lifting of Endangered status of Brown Bear (Grizzly) and the wolf in these states….we could move these offending critters, along with our beloved wild horses to other states. Let these companies ruin (or put their money where their mouth is that their activities are all ‘healthy’ and ‘non-detrimental’ to the environment) their businesses from these states. This includes, shutting down all cattle activities in CO, NV, AZ and NM and moving them to WY, MT, ID. And they can all live happily together. It would also mean that ALL employees (including CEO’s, etc.) must live YEAR ROUND in these states (and their families) for the duration ot their companies occupation. They must give up their CA, FL and NY villas to live in comfy MT, WY or ID. It would certainly boost the economy there.

    I for one would probably stop eating beef. But, there are millions of other who enjoy beef sufficiently who could partake.

    That would alleviate these other BLM areas (CO, OR, CA, NV) from MMS obligations and allow the wild horses to be released or at least cease roundups.

    Sue Wallis could maintain her slaughterhouse (for cattle only). She’s be the Queen of the Cows then.

    I’m removing NV from the DOE occupation because they have Lost Wages – um, Las Vegas and make plenty from that enterprise. Wild horses, wolves, bison and Grizzly would give the non gambling crowd something to do while in NV. It literally would be the best of both worlds. Nobody goes to watch cattle graze or be slaughtered.

    Wonder how many Native Americans would be granted job opportunities in these Energy takeovers? Has anyone asked them? They’ve already lost their land. I guess they wouldn’t mind moving someplace else for the sake of energy for everyone else. Right?

    The wild horses are only the tip of the iceberg folks. We need to extend our net.


  14. I am a new advocate for the horses as of August. I am so heart-sick and frustrated i don’t know how much more I can take. I don’t understand why all the documentation of the cruelties is not getting into the hands of those in Congress who can make a difference. What good does it do for it to just be circulated among the advocates and everyone praised for the good job they are doing? I’ve about had it with reading the latest outrage and crying and trying to function with a stabbing pain in my heart and fighting the depression. It would be worth it if there were some positive results. It doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult for a dvd to be made of all the cruelties and be put into the hands of Congress. Also, could BLM be sued for the threatening email that was sent? How about a class action suit against BLM for irreconsialable (sp) harm caused by thee roundups of our beloved horses? Didn’t the judge in New York agree with this point? Maybe there some things in the works that can’t be shared right now. I am indeed very thankful for all that has been done gathering the documentation. But now let’s GET ON WITH IT!


    • Welcome to the world of rogue American government. Much of the cruelty taking place has been circulated to more sources than advocates. The main source of it, the BLM, when presented with questions they keep dodging, their reply is: No comment. They don’t care about cruelty, nor speaking to our side in an interview.
      They hide under smoke screens and keep the pressure on their PR headhonchos to preserve their image… and defend their outrageous actions. The mainstream media has not picked up, or very slowly, again, being controlled by corporations who are in bed with the government. Democracy… is going to hell here. The judicial system is biased, the horse gestapo is corrupt and deceptive and refuses to admit so.
      If you have documentations or material worthy of collecting, Craig Downer is putting together a library of such. Many of us have contacted Senators, other politicians etc., but they sit on a fence until they have splinters up their rear. One of them is Mark Udall, whose uncle has established Pryor Mt., yet the other Udalls act as if they never knew. The extent of corruption in this country is mind blowing and shame and fear are replacing pride. It is a travesty what is done, so keep up the pressure, educate your next door neighbor and network the current events, as the American main stream is kept in the dark.


  15. CNN Justice is doing a four-part series on the destruction of America’s wild horses. The series will kick off tomorrow, Sunday, December 5, 2010, with the first part focusing on the Walker Lake herd in Nevada.

    The series will air, I’m told, at 5:45 p.m. or 6 p.m. in Miami, Florida. In California, that would be 2:45 or 3:00 p.m. I wish I had more details than this, but please check your local stations. I just want to get this email out so people know to start looking for this. My Facebook page will have details if and when there are more to be had.

    This is one of the venues for whom I have provided some video footage. I hope and trust it is used in context and that the series accurately portrays the plight and treacherous times faced by our fast-disappearing national treasure, the wild horses and burros. I hope you will tune in.

    Please tell your friends, colleagues, and neighbors to tune in. Americans generally have no idea what is happening to our wild horses. Virtually everyone who learns of these things wants to help make certain that their grandchildren will still be able to see wild horses running free. Help the horses by making their stories known.

    For the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble burro friends,

    Elyse Gardner

    Humane Advocate Observer


    ©1/6/10 Elyse Gardner


  16. WE are their VOICE…as a proud cherokee native american,we have to get these video’s+stories out to the general public for awareness,these beautiful works of God to me are our forefathers legacy,our legacy,our childrens legacy,our grandchildrens legacy & generations to come..the advocates that are out there beating the pavement are an example of God’s purpose/reason why we exsist, my prayers go out to each & everyone of you for your heroic efforts, this is truly your calling as you are God’s gift to these majestic Angels of God..don’t ever stop praying for a cure & we will Win!!!…Love & Prayers to you..Denise


    • You are totally right Denise Griffith,this is why we are all here, to save these wonderful giving animals The Wild Mustangs, while reading your comment here it reminded me of this written by Kim McElroy………………….Come, Drink from the river of Universal Knowledge. With eyes unclouded-you will see that Spirits are not merely of the Air, they are woven into the fibers of the world. With a heart unburdened you will know that Angels come in many forms…………….It made me think of the Wild Mustangs……… Thank You Denise !!!!


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