Horse News

EWA Calls Out Welfare Ranching Publication

Courtesy of the Equine Welfare Alliance

Welfare Ranchers Call Mustang Advocates “Hysterical”

Welfare Cattle herded into Antelope Complex as wild horses are being rounded up ~ photo by Terry Fitch

Chicago (EWA) – The Progressive Rancher Magazine has issued a response to the article in Time Magazine on the Madeleine Pickens proposed wild horse sanctuary. It is ironic that the response accuses equine advocates of “misrepresentations and distortions” of truth but is full of the authors’ own misrepresentations and distorted truth.

The story, which was not available on line, was immediately distributed in a press release by Sue Wallis of United Horsemen LLC., a staunch horse slaughter supporter and opponent of wild equine preservation.

Many western ranchers are licensed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to graze cattle on public lands for token fees well below the government’s administrative costs, leading opponents of the practice to refer to them as “welfare ranchers”. Since welfare ranchers on public lands are one of the driving forces behind the removals of America’s wild horses and burros, it came as no surprise that such a magazine would distort the truth to further their agenda for more removals.

Such is the widespread sense of entitlement in this community that they exhibit outright anger at having to share public lands they feel should be solely for the use of their privately owned livestock that currently outnumber mustangs by at least 50 to 1.

The article quotes long-time equine advocate, Willis Lamm, in an attempt to discredit all information from equine advocates. In response, Lamm commented “It’s ironic that Sue Wallis, who along with her group that I have long considered to be included among those Hysteria Corps, laptop experts and self promoters, would be so careless as to publish my criticisms of their very actions in her press release.”

Among other “myths”, the article discounted as “hysteria” were claims by advocates that BLM horses were finding their way to slaughter. In reality, horses have been disappearing and have been documented to have been sold to slaughter as far back as 1994. The documentation can be viewed in this report.

As if the historical evidence were not compelling enough, before the ink was even dry on the Progressive Rancher article, the BLM announced that a shipment of 47 BLM horses had been interdicted on its way to Mexico in the truck belonging to a well known slaughter buyer.

The incident, which is under investigation by the FBI, state agencies, and the US Attorney’s Office, involves a suspected slaughter ring.

Advocates have long called for the BLM to allow independent audits of the number of horses in their long term holding (LTH) facilities. With no system for tracking individual animals and no public access to LTH facilities, there is no way to know the fate of these horses or the number remaining in holding.

Unlike cattle, wild horses are a native American species. In fact, all equines in the world have their origins in North America. Evidence shows they got to Asia and Europe over the Bering land bridge.

It was long held that horses went extinct on the continent in the late Pleistocene about 11,000 years ago, but recent fossil finds and especially DNA samples from Clovis points have proven that horses survived in North America to at least 7,600 years ago, and now some researchers are beginning to question whether they ever went entirely extinct.

Of course, this doesn’t stop those with designs upon their land from calling wild horses feral or a non-native species. Ignoring a rich library of scientific literature, the authors chose to quote a radical from the Audubon Society that is a self proclaimed expert on wild horses.

Advocates have often thought that since the European Union prohibits all wild equidae meat (except zebra meat), that renaming wild horses as non-native species or as feral is a way not only to degrade them, but to make them eligible for slaughter.

The 1971 Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act is explicit in the land granted [principally but not exclusive] and the intended management. The wild horses and burros are to be considered as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands and managed where presently found [in 1971]. The law did not give the BLM the right to remove over 20 million acres of land nor does it dictate that horses must be removed.

The opponents of wild horses completely dismiss a 1990 GAO report that clearly indicated that it was the millions of livestock, not wild horses that were overgrazing and ruining the ranges, particularly around the riparian areas. The  article quotes the BLM statement that there are 50% less cattle on the public range than in 1940, but fails to mention that the size of the cattle has significantly increased.

Another frequently used argument is the cost of $70M for wild horses but never is there a mention of the hundreds of millions it is costing taxpayers to subsidize the welfare ranchers grazing their millions of livestock on public lands.

Unfortunately, the article predominantly cites BLM data that cannot be rationalized, much less verified. As an example of the obscuration, the BLM claimed that there were between 32,000 and 34,000 wild horses on the range at the beginning of 2010. They removed 12,000 during the year, and then claimed there the population was 38,000. When the EWA asked about this strange accounting, we were provided with no plausible explanation.

Our wild horses and burros are just another example of how special interests are looting the wealth of our nation while creating smoke screens of indignation and feigned anger about the way government is treating them.

20 replies »

  1. Why am I not surprised that Sue Wallis is behind this? Hysterical? ~ NO. Passionate? ~ YES. Compassionate? ~ YES. Get the cattle off MY portion of public lands and let the ranchers provide grazing for their DOMESTICATED cattle ~ and leave MY wild horses and burros alone!


  2. Same cow and bull s – – -, different day. This type has always been a rude, callous, grandiose, and self-entitled bunch of land grabbers. There actually are good family ranchers out there, somewhere, but you have to look to find them.

    Terry Fitch’s photo is worth more than all the words they could offer. Wouldn’t it be great to sit down in front of live mics and camerasa and discuss the EVIDENCE with their best representatives in front of a national audience? Have all the history and documentation right there?

    Wouldn’t you like to see what they are like when they have to stand under the light of Truth? Anything less, like the lack of honesty in their article, is just plain cowardly. Reminds me of politics.

    If they were only hurting themselves, we could just let them go on and on. But they are hurting the land. And they are hurting the horses.

    And nobody ought to get away with hurting the horses.


  3. Sorry, but where is the link that has SSs original press release? I saw it on Horseback, but it was on the crawl, not archived. And yes, I understand this is about Progressive Rancher (btw, what an oxymoron if I have ever read/heard one).

    p.s. Texas….we have a format problem….second half of post is fragmented. Fixable?


      • Thanks for the format fix.

        Horseback has the same EWA press release and asked the editor if he could find the “letter/press release” from Wallis that he featured (believe it was on the crawl). It was a doozie and different from the Prog Rancher piece.

        Do I understand the Prog Rancher can’t be found/linked? Only hard copy edition?


  4. Love their math, it seems like they have been saying 38,000 for the last how many years…it never decreases after a year of gathers. wish my check book could gain when you have 34,000 take away 12,0000 & end up with 38,000…heck I’d be rich LOL.


    • Yes, Darcy, the BLM figures for the horses on the range never decrease from the 38,500 number they have been quoting for 4 years now. Not with removals of 10,000-12,000 for each consecutive year. Nor do the holding facilities figures increase from 38,000 with the addition of these same 10,000-12,000 each year. If you put out reports like this at your job, you would be fired for knowingly publishing misinformation. Unless that is what your boss asked of you.


      • Being a Government agency you better believe that they MUST have accurate records for the bean counters or they will not get their money. So again this is something the BLM is lying about. they just do not want to advertise to the public that horses are missing and going to slaughter. Again they LIE!!!!


  5. Is anyone surprised? Not hardly…but when will the “hysterical wild horse people” have their opportunity to speak in a Congressional hearing? This is just like a liar, the story begins and the more you lie the bigger it gets until finally you are busted!. I just hope that the FBI has more than is being published. Everyone laughs about the horse business, but for some doing illegal under takings, it can be a very lucrative business. We can never give up the fight, just keep questioning the figures and ask what procedure that they are using to keep track of the horses. Right now there are several in Congressional positions to question what the BLM is doing. Too bad the new appointee doesn’t realize that she is only being used as a pawn in the Good Ol’ Boys Club. As each new Representative or Senator is added, they are finding out what the real truth is. Talk about hysterical people, I bet the ranchers have a few worries of their own.. The truth will be forth coming….
    EWA is right on spot.


  6. Dear Lynn,

    One of the most disconcerting discoveries on this long journey to preserve our wild and free roaming horses and burros is just how little bean counting is actually being done. Furthermore, there is an alarming lack of concern about whether what bean counts that are being done are accurate.

    If you ever had a job where you felt that you had to be accountable, honest, fair, and perhaps even merciful to your clientel, your patients, your employees, your employer just because it was right or because you were afraid you would lose your job, then you will have a very difficult time accepting that your taxes are going to support an large number of employees, some of whom are good people and conscientous, no doubt, but many, many others particularly in leadership positions are of the good ole go along to get along mentality—whether it means quoting impossible to be true math such as some of the birth rates BLM comes up with, using a picture taken some other place to depict a situation on their web site that they are trying to drum up public support for.

    These people have been the only game in town for so long, repeated their faux theories for so long, that they have forgotten reality…if they ever knew it at all.

    The distance between large cities and even towns in the West is far more vast in the West than in the East. Perhaps some of these employees have the sense that they are as isolated as they were 30 years ago. Maybe they really do not understand that they are under the telescope of an educated public that can actually add, subtract, multiple, and divide. Is it possible that they fail to comprehend the power of the Internet?

    Leadership at the Interior and possibly further up has failed to grasp this fundamental truth that advocates have internalized. Never believe something anyone else tells you is true if does not agree with what you, through your knowledge and experience, know to be true no matter who tells you. No one questioned the BLM’s facts, figures, policies, or actions when we had no way to share our concerns.

    For years, the BLM said horses were starving on the range or dying of thirst. They carefully staged photo ops and press releases, but then someone messed up and got a little too reckless calling cattle water holes horse destroyed water holes and chubby little horses with bright eyes and shiney coats, starved—-in front of the cameras. So we started cleaning our lenses, and look what we’ve found.


  7. My take on this is that the Public is listening to us and hard questions are being asked. When “they” start with this kind of rhetoric, it usually means that you are getting very close to the quick.


  8. Although we live in United Kingdom we can see exactly what’s going on
    with the BML. Their web-site is totally misleading – its a pack of lies actually. They are slaughtering your beautiful wild horses and I hope the FBI are actively involved now. Why should the cattle ranches have all the cheap grazing just so they can make more profit when selling to McDonalds.


  9. Cattle grazing on public lands is key to the wild horses sustainability on the land. I guess lots of people who have watched my film really like it because soon after they watch it I see articles and posts including what I cover in the film, yet rarely a mention of the film. Nearly all the points mentioned in the EWA article above are told in my recently released documentary Wild Horses in Winds of Change. The film is an award winning call to action film that reaches people on so many levels. R. T. it sure would be nice to see listed among the other film’s currently circulating.


  10. The list of events and data the BLM cannot explain grows ever longer ~ but similar events are taking place in Canada (and other countries) and will likely grow worse under the Conservative government here. Mara LeGrand has identified in her film Wild Horses in Winds of Change many of the above issues. This is about the horses – but it is also a Global conservation and preservation issue – and we should all be concerned.


  11. Since the FBI is investigating the 64 wild horses that were bound for slaughter. I feel they should investigate BLM. Stop all roundups~require the Names of all the folks that adopted 225,000 wild horses since 1971 according to BLM info on their website. How many wild horses have been rounded up since 1971 to date? Investigate the 21 ranchers that care for the wild horses in permanent and temporary holding. Investigate all the killer buyers holding pens in all states in direction of Mexico and Canada? Require wild horse count currently on the range by independent contractor or NAS. Require wild horse count in captivity at all the ranches, temporary and permanent holding. Investigate welfare cattle ranchers and other leases requiring reason for removal of wild horses?
    Investigate and provide evidence that cattle degrade the public lands, not the wild horses.
    May the truth set all our wild horses free.


  12. Particularly like this expose of yours RT. Yes they are native and they complement the rest of life her if we two leggeds would only let them be themselves and have the requisite degree of freedom. These wild horse haters are so full of themselves. In Spanish the saying is “El se cree mucho!”


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