Horse News

NV Congresswoman Speaks Out on Obama BLM Animal Cruelty at Wild Horse Stampede

Reported by Brooke Boone from Reno’s NBC Channel 4

BLM Says They Will “Look Into It” But Dangerous Pilot Still Flying

Click on above image to view the Broadcast and to Comment ~ Photo by Laura Leigh

The disturbing images of the roundup going on in eastern Nevada have upset many. We showed Nevada Congresswoman Shelley Berkley the video and she was appalled by the pilots behavior. Shelly Berkley–“I was troubled by images from the recent wild horse roundup. The Bureau of Land Management must ensure that all rules are followed during any roundup. Those who are hired to perform wild horse roundups must obey these rules and if they fail to do so, appropriate steps should be taken.”

Action was taken only after I showed the video to the BLM’s Chief Washington spokesperson, Tom Gorey. He says an investigation is underway involving Sun-J, the helicopter contractor for the round-up in this video. Gorey says “It will certainly involve questioning Sun-J and the pilot and matters related to this incident.” Even with this investigation, the BLM tells me the pilot in this video remains on the job.

Since our story first aired on Monday, we received new photos of a helicopter buzzing horses. Witnesses claim these photos were taken on Monday, after the BLM knew of the problem — the BLM says they believe the photos were taken the same day of the video… Just from a different angle.

But no matter when those pictures were taken, this is not the first time the BLM has had to deal with complaints about helicopter pilots. Seven months ago this video was taken at an Oregon roundup. At first glance it looks like a horse is flipped by a helicopter pilot. BLM calls this video “bogus.” Gorey says, “There is a shadow of the helicopter that makes it appear the horse is flipped over. But no such incident occurred.

We are not saying what happened. You make the call on that. But we do know the helicopter was flying close to the horses.

Today, News 4 went as far as calling Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar to get some answers. He runs the Bureau of Land Management. So far, we have not received a response.

News 4 will continue to follow this story and update you, the viewer, on the internal investigation as that information becomes available.

55 replies »

  1. The BLM is in active cover up mode. The two helicopter incidents, one where the older mare collapses from running too far and the one where the helicopter is just harassing the horse were taken on different days. At Warm Springs (I was there) the helicopter skid di hit the horse in the withers and then later the same horse broke her neck at the hands on SunJ.
    So they are asking SunJ questions, I’d say you can do better than that, pull the contract!

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  2. Ground the contractor now. This business as usual violence and brutality is beyond any accepted behavior in a rural, non-wartime setting in the American West. Don’t you think?? This is how it is always… it is Not just here and now but Every roundup has this element of disregard for life, old and new and protected. Horses die at nearly every roundup and they are left uncounted on the range. Calico and Owyhee and Warm Springs… Silver King. Sheldon, Twin Peaks. There have been so many and they each have their own victims of the contractors. The old cowboy way has been replaced with the remnants of mustangers and their lawless possession of the wild ones. BLM has perpetuated the myths and the murder of innocents. Neither is acceptable to the public. Knowing the truth has been circumvented by all means possible by this agency only makes it more clear each day that this is out of control. Reality will set in as the truth has been here long enough to be recognized.
    mar

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  3. Thank you Reno TV. And thank you to that Congresswoman. I hope “real” action is taken against those involved. We may never know what is said vs what isn’t…they do have to abide by privacy laws. So we may have to read between lines and “settle” for knowing that “this behavior isn’t going to be repeated”.

    For me that right now has to be enough. But WE NEED TO HEAR THIS FROM THE BLM, AND ACTION HAS TO FOLLOW THE WORDS.

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  4. My husband was an Air Crew Chief on Huey Helicopters when he was in the Marine Corps and I still live next to the Marine Corps Air Station here in North Carolina. When I first saw those pictures on Monday and the new ones today, it is perfectly clear to me and to anyone who has been around helicopters when they fly and hover at low heights to see how the top rotor blades bend downward from the torque of the downward force and with the skids as low as a horses back it would be very easy for a blade to cut the head off of one of those men or even one of the horses. Especially if the wind is blowing as well! Any pilot that is licensed to fly a helicopter knows that you don’t fly that low to the ground when there are people walking around who are “not trained in the workings of a helicopter,” or where there are large animals present that could be injured by the turning of the top or rear rotor blades. These pilots need to be pulled out of these “birds” and reported to the FAA!!! I know one thing, I sincerely hope that NONE OF THEM are MILITARY RESERVISTS PILOTS!!! I would be afraid that “these psychos” would do something stupid and get us into a whole ‘nuther war!! Please! Someone get this under a BIG investigation and have this stopped!

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    • And there were strong winds out there the other day. Plus, those rotors can blow up rocks and pebbles very easily into horses eyes (so many eye injuries reported as blind in one eye) and people’s eyes. There was a toddler climbing on the gather pen gate the other day. Not only are there round up contractor rules, there are rules for pilots and these yahoos are breaking all of them.

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  5. A huge push or surge to the media and high profile celebrities and reporters are necessary to spread the word and put on the pressure. Currently there are many of us sending letters to Oprah, Ellen, Anderson Cooper, etc.. There must be outrage from the public, the news channels have to report it and put the pressure on. Salazar and Abbey are both crooks and should be removed from having anything to do with the wild horses, they have put in place the extinction of our wild horses and should be punished for it.

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  6. OSHA has probably been informed by now as has the news media. More than likely, everyone has also contacted their Congressmen.

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    • everyone SHOULD contact their Congressmen…..and keep contacting their Congressmen until something is done. found out yesterday that Congressman Welsh of VT still thinks there is a “wild horse overpopulation problem”. he obviously has his head in the sand….or snow as we have about 4′ w/ more coming. i told him he has not heard the end of me yet, as he has a lot to learn.

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    • Louie,
      I so agree that OSHA needs to hear about this! Can you share some advise as to what needs to be said and how to say it? Ditto with notifying FAA. Thank you.

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  7. I believe this round up is very difficult for these pilots. I don’t think they are finding large amounts of horses and are getting very frustrated bringing in small bands over great distances and with great difficulty. I think this pilot is exhibiting high levels of frustration which is turning into extreme aggression and hostility toward the horses. I believe he sees them as the enemy. He needs to be grounded for the horses safety and his own. That’s just what my gut is telling me.

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  8. Interesting. The Sun J pilot sees the horses as the enemy. That is a little scary given the distance he is bringing them. No telling how many dead horses are spread across the landscape.

    Actually, he may not be able to take the pressure of being less than competent to do a job that almost no American citizen wants him to do.

    They should just call this round-up off right now. There are very few horses to gather. Weather conditions are terrible. And the pilot you have doing the cowboying is not ready to do this job.

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      • Does the BLM have an ongoing “Gather Report” on the Antelope Complex? If so, I couldn’t find it on their website.

        Sun J has spent how many days rounding up how many horses? I bet they’ve taken a big loss so far. That would explain the pressure on an inexperienced pilot to bring in as many animals as quickly as possible, and the crew to drive them into trailers, no matter how inhumanly they have do it. All under the “watchful” eyes of the BLM.

        There are obviously many fewer horses on the Antelope Complex than were estimated by the BLM’s “mathematical projections”. Otherwise the pilot wouldn’t be spending so much time harassing singles, pairs, and small bands, and Sun J wouldn’t be moving the trap so frequently. It just isn’t cost-effective.

        And how does this treatment square with the APHA report by the “Expert Designated Humane Observers”?

        Click to access AHPAFinalReport.pdf

        I know the Observers only “recommended” and “suggested”, and there’s a big caveat: “While not all recommendations may be practicable to the operation” (lets the BLM and contractors of the hook!), but the rest of the sentence reads, “AHPA respectfully requests that BLM review each recommendation and if deemed to be not feasible, to address the reasons why.” Has this been done? If not, why not?

        The report is dated October, 2010. How many of their “recommendations” and “suggestions” a have been totally ignored SINCE THEN – ENDANGERING the wild horses they sought to protecting? Have ANY of them seen actual stills, videos, and advocate observer’s reports? I sure would like to read their reactions.

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  9. There is no more important story in America today. We ARE running out of oil and NOTHING will EVER take its place, (its liquid). There may be a period of chaos and unrest but make no mistake about it someday all forms of mobile energy will be needed. Horses can work all day powered simply by grass. 100 years ago we had no oil and horses 100 years from now we will have no oil or horses. We must maintain our American Mustangs to protect a viable gene pool, there will be NO magic bullet or new invention that will ever take the place of oil. The future may lie in the past. This may seem unlikely but what is our option?

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    • Have you read about the “Stirling” external combustion engine”? Lots of good info and links here:
      http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Stirling_Engines

      The Stirling (or Sterling) wasn’t particularly efficient when it was invented IN THE 1800’s. It was dropped in favor of steam and internal combustion powered by fossil fuels. We can thank John D. Rockefeller and his cadre for the fossil fuel/internal combustion part.

      Recently, the original engine’s ineffiencies have been overcome by combining it with other technologies. It operates on just about anything that burns, which would keep millions of tons of waste out of landfills. You can build a Stirling yourself, from a kit or by using commonly-available parts.

      AND IT WORKS WHEN THE SUN DON’T SHINE!

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      • Didn’t expect my comment to be a new car technology subject but all the info discussed has proven for one reason or other not practicable. The Sterling is an external combustion engine very inefficient. No I’m afraid liquid oil will never be replaced. Why would they be drilling 5 miles down in the ocean? A diesel engine is as good as it will ever get about 40% efficiency and they are super clean. We don’t want to fuel our cars from our mountain tops plus coal and everything else will come in short supply as oil runs out. In all honesty we better look to the past to a time before oil. We may have limited electricity if we learn how to rub the magnets together without fire. Horses will play a role, just look at Cuba since we embargoed the oil. Horses and ox did most of the farming. The BLM must not destroy what has taken 500 years to perfect.

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      • horsedrag and everyone, I don’t mean to turn this post into an issue of “Popular Mechanics”, but I have to put up a couple of other links re: Stirling HYBRIDS and some related info. No, Stirlings aren’t practical for many direct applications, but using them to power batteries has enormous potential. At least that’s what Dean Kamen, the guy wo invented the Segway, is banking on.
        http://inhabitat.com/the-2008-deka-revolt/
        http://www.alt-energy.info/hybrid-electric-cars/segway-inventor-turning-his-sights-towards-stirling-engine-hybrid/

        I first saw a Stirling at Owl’s Head Transportation Museum in Maine.
        http://www.ohtm.org/edu_col.html
        Not very “sexy”, but it certainly got my attention. This mentions straw, wood, coal, etc., but the “etc.” listed about 50 other things that had been successfully used as fuel sources. I was fascinated, but everyone else ignored the little, red “engine that could” tucked away in the corner in favor of a huge, shiny Turbojet cutaway. BTW, the photo of Dean Kamen holding his engine was taken at Owl’s Head. I recognized the HUGE steam-powered industrial engine in the background. I wish he was standing beside the humble Stirling, but it’s no where near as attractive. Anyway, a good example of “What goes around, comes around!”

        On the lighter side of Stirling –
        http://www.discoverthis.com/article-stirling-engine-top10.html
        Notice the Swedes and Danes are using them in submarines. BTW, there’s speculation that the Chinese(!!!) are using a version of the Swedish design in their “Mystery SSK” submarine. “Mystery” isn’t a welcome word at the Pentagon. I hope our spies are better than Chinese security!

        And part of the issue with electric hybrids has been the scarcity of “rare earths” like lithium. Our Chinese “friends” have the market pretty well cornered, but now Toyota and Tesla have come up with a battery that doesn’t use rare earths. Hopefully, that will slow down the distruction of our American lands.
        http://venturebeat.com/2011/01/18/toyota-tesla-china-rare-earths-electric-car-induction-motor/#

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  10. Deny, deflect, ignore and flat lie.

    Disgusting and obscene behavior by government officials and their incompetent, cruel contractors just rolls merrily along.

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    • He and the rest of the slew ’em crew have NEVER been held to account for anything…and the lies continue.

      Mr. Obama should spend some time getting his own house in order before he makes statements to other world leaders about behavior and what the “people” want. What a hypocrite!

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  11. When I contacted my Congressman — the only one who, in the past, has bothered to respond to my concerns — I copied/pasted the link to Laura’s photos right into the text of my message. Very easy to do.
    Remember to include that Laura isn’t simply an observer, but a professional journalist and photographer who has consistently witnessed, documented and reported on round ups. These aren’t cell phone photos by some random person who isn’t familiar with the issues surrounding BLM WH&B activities. She’s a PROFESSIONAL, as are many of the people who go out to observe and report, and she knows what she’s looking at.
    I think that the BLM prefers to paint observers as “activists,” troublemakers and horsey huggers. But the truth is that these are experienced horse people and journalists who are on site to document what our government would prefer that no one see.
    Keep up the good work Laura, RT and all you dedicated observers!

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  12. It is my understanding that there are many better alternatives to fossil fuel energy but they disappear. Some are bought by up corporations and others simply don’t make it through a very difficult and complicated. patent system.
    One of our very own people from this blog told me about an air car that is produced in France.

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  13. Columnist and CNN co-host Kathleen Parker has an excellent column today about the role of journalists as witnesses to history and what drives them to want to be where the story is happening. She also explains why it is important to have these witnesses present with their cameras to tell their stories.

    I know that we know these things, but when the BLM, the Secretary’s foot soldiers, anti-wild horse voices try to marginalize us with their ridicules mischaracterizations of us as tree-huggers (a fine way to be disparaged in my opinion), and being anti-whatever, it is good to know that at this very critical time for Egypt, our country, and our horses, professional journalists are being praised for being brave to get their story. At least they are in groups and travel with crews.

    Laura is out there alone a lot depending on the decency of some who may not understand why she is there. She is in the middle of no where. She is not getting a big salary, fame, or glory, but if she can change the outcomes for these horses, one gets the feeling that that will be enough. That is courage and passion.

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  14. I have to say this post pushed me further over the edge! I am so fed up reading the “responses” from bureaucrats, senators, representatives, horse owners, ad naseum about their shock, concern, even horror (?) when questioned about this going on and they act like this is the first time they’ve even HEARD about it? Please! What planet are they living on?! I got involved almost a year ago – and there were a lot of people who had already been fighting this before I joined! If this situation involved humans being rounded up and killed or injured in the process the news would be 24/7s! It’s all over the Internet, newspapers, magazines, Jane Velez-Mitchell is pounding the issue on her program – people like Laura Leigh and Simone Netherlands have put themselves in the line of fire (literally!) and been threatened and physically attacked, and yet the BLM continues to use the same pilots that are killing and maiming horses on purpose, and roundups continue unabated. I feel like we’re all fiddling and Rome is still burning! What other options have we not explored or considered? I don’t know! Okay – now shoving my soapbox back under the desk.

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  15. No matter how angry the public gets, the BLM & their idiots will NEVER change!! They must be stopped, period, in their tracks!! This has been going on for way too many years, in different disguise, but the same outcome. They didn’t used to have helicopters, they used light planes & trucks, & slowed them down by making them drag tires. They stuffed them in trucks & hauled them to slaughter. Now they use merciless contractors with helicopters, castrate them with no pain killers, throw them into over-crowded holding pens, or ship them to “other” locations, do things in secret, won’t let the people know what they’re doing to the people’s wild horses, & refuse outside offers of help, like good-intended people like Madeleine Pickens & others. There used to be millions of wild horses in the wild, now there might be 30,000-40,000 left in the wild?? They are “winning”, can we stop them before it’s too late!!?? Why can’t we just go out & take the horses away from them? You know, round them up the old-fashioned way, & hide them on private land, under the cover of darkness, & protect the horses from the BLM by not letting them step on private land?? Wishful thinking, in a perfect world this would not even be a thought.

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  16. I wrote regrding the animal abuse going on at the Antelope roundup and I got this response from national WH&B:
    ******************
    “We appreciate your interest in the program. However, if you are
    unaware, BLM has already initiated an internal review of the incident. We will make the information available to the public once the review has been completed. As a normal practice, we post all gather-related information to the national and/or respective state website. If you would like to follow
    the progress of the incident, please visit the following site. New updates will be posted when available. Thank you.
    http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en.html
    Debbie Collins
    BLM National WH&B Program
    866-468-7826″
    My response:
    Thank you for taking a sincere interest in this horrible problem. I was unaware that BLM was investigating this issue and I am very glad to hear that they are doing so. In the meantime, please tell me that this pilot has been taken off of this helicopter duty and removed from the roundup activities. Certainly the BLM would not allow him/her to continue if there was any possible chance of this sort of problem occuring again? The pilot’s actions are not only immoral but it against the law of the United States. Has this pilot been arrested for animal abuse and also destruction of government property?
    Section 1361 protects “any property” of the United States or an agency or department thereof …”
    ************
    So perhaps you will want to ask her the same questions – especially the part about destruction of government property.

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    • Ah, yes…I thought that note had a Debbie Collins sort of twang to it. Just love that “internal” part. Wait until they see what the local Sheriff and D.A. have to say.

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  17. Valerie: I’m with you. Why can’t we go out and get the horses the old fashioned way and put them on private land, with the land that Pickens has as starters. This is her land and she has the right to forbide people she does not want on her property. If enough people were willing to take the wild horses on their lands and some people with money could help care, feed, and love the horses, we could save them. Then, all of our attention could be toward convicting those that have killed, maimed, our beloved horses. These actions by the BLM and its contractors are the crueliest of animal cruelty and they must be punished for it, from Salazar on down to the pee-ons. THey are all “accessories” to the act, or whatever the legal term is. We need to demand that these actions stop immediately. Obama, you better straighten your actions or your legacy with blow away with nothing but hatred for your term in office.

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  18. As an add-on: Laura, please be careful. And R.T. thank you and Laura for all your tireless work to save these animals. God Bless You and keep you safe.

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  19. Grandma Gregg, this is probably the best way to contact OSHA-posted by Mar and Sandra:
    Mar Wargo
    Feb 03, 2011 @ 10:41:06

    Contact OSHA and send them the links to videos and tell them they must observe these people in the field to see what is going on!!

    sandra longley
    Feb 02, 2011 @ 15:06:48

    http://dirweb.state.nv.us/OSHA/osha.htm

    website for Nevada OSHA, has e-mail link for reporting..attach all the videos showing the individuals on the ground in proximaty to the helicopter such as the horse that was pushed thru the jute at the trap site, so it not only endangers the pilot but also the ground crew who are not suppose to be within 60 feet of the helicopter in the trap..we see that all the time..remember most of these hoses are around 15 hands or smaller as in the case of foals..15 hands is 60 ” when that helcopter touches that animal or its skids are obsucured by that animal…that is how far it is off the ground..that puts it into perspective for the investigator looking at the picture or video

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      • OSHA is required to check on safety issues. The flight paths of these pilots is too low and dangerous all about the trap site. People could be killed. Conditions are often bad. The entire operation is dangerous to people, the pilot and the horses.

        Sending OSHA pics and video of the trap site incidents and how low over horses the helicopter will get OSHA out there. Keep calling and emailing OSHA.

        Don’t knock it, try it… it should help and complaints against these pilots to OSHA over and over will make them take action. They can ground these guys. mar

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      • Mar — If we chose to send a letter by snail mail, we use the second address on the web site, correct? The one for norhtern Nevada?
        Just double checking.
        I thought I’d copy/paste/print out the actual photos from Laura’s web site and send them directly to the OSHA office.

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      • Thanks, Mar. I just wrote a letter, included links and two photos of the helicopter nearly hitting the horse out in the open, and the one where the helicopter is close to the horses AND the trap site,where employees are often on hand.
        Just felt that, on this occasion, I’d send a snail mail with large color photos. Photos are, after all, worth a thousand words.

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      • OSHA is for the safety of humans… and what these pilots do is dangerous to themselves as well as the ground crew. They will investigate these low flying helicopters… when they are near the trap site and do not back off and there are ground
        crew there these pictures need to be given to OHSA so they can assess this recklessness. They will fine them, their insurance will go up and they will ground pilots for repeated violations… so help site Sun J and file your info and your concerns with
        OSHA and show them the pic and video…. and everytime a new video comes out with more dangerous flying near the trap…. We can stop these people!! mar

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  20. Here are daily reports of the Antelope Complex round-up from on site observers:
    http://www.wildhorsepreservation.org/news/?p=3381

    DAILY UPDATES
    Day 1 (Sunday, January 23, 2011)

    Day 2 (Monday, January 24, 2011)

    Day 3 (Tuesday, January 25, 2011)

    Day 4 (Wednesday, January 26, 2011): Foal Roped

    Day 5 (Thursday, January 27, 2011): Tragedy Mounts

    Day 6: Chaos on the Range

    Day 7: Only the Lucky Few Escape

    Report from BLM’s PVC Holding Pens (2/2/11)

    AMERICAN WILD HORSE PRESERVATION CAMPAIGN:

    DAILY UPDATES
    Day 1 (Sunday, January 23, 2011)

    Day 2 (Monday, January 24, 2011)

    Day 3 (Tuesday, January 25, 2011)

    Day 4 (Wednesday, January 26, 2011): Foal Roped

    Day 5 (Thursday, January 27, 2011): Tragedy Mounts

    Day 6: Chaos on the Range

    Day 7: Only the Lucky Few Escape

    Report from BLM’s PVC Holding Pens (2/2/11)

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  21. Send and fax this into OSHA:

    AWHPC
    BLM has stated that they keep public observers in designated boxes away from the horses for “safety reasons.”
    Yet the contractors – and even their toddler – walk freely around the horses in the trap. Watch the video below of the toddler as he walks around and even climbs the bars of the trap pen.

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  22. Lips Service. Thats all that the horses and the ones that are fighting to save them are getting. Big deal, you’re appauled. Frigging do something about it then!!!!

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  23. There is or was a law that helicopters could not be any lower than 150 feet from/above the horses, but Obama’s rogue BLM and thug contractors and appointees have no limits to their cruelty. This situation is in the bloody hands of President Obama who continues to ignore what is happening. The president’s mentality/perspective is reflected of a stature that was setting on a table in the Oval office at one time…a cowboy bucking, beating, spurring, and whipping a defenseless horse. That’s his visions of how horses are treated. It’s pathetic! His lack of compassion is clearly reflected in his rare photo ops with the “family dog”, Bow, and of his presidential Thanksgiving pardoning of the two turkeys. Obama is not genuine.

    He describes himself as “persistent” but in reality, he is stubborn, heartless and hard-headed. And, OMG, I voted for him! My advice as always to him is STOP terrorizing, maiming and killing America’s wild horses-burros.

    Betty Kelly
    Carson City NV

    Like

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