Horse News

Horseback Interview: BLM Shuts the Doors by Hiding Wild Horse Traps on Private Land

Interview and story by Steven Long ~ Publisher/Editor of Horseback Magazine

Stuttering and Crawfishing Inundate Stilted Responses from the BLM

photo by Laura Leigh

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – Last winter when about 160 horses died in the bitter cold of a Nevada desert’s winter, wild horse advocates issued howls of protest climaxing when a foal, exhausted after being stampeded for miles over rocky ground, lost his hooves and perished.

Animal advocates will not witness such an event this year because the horses are being held in a compound on private property leased at taxpayer’s expense but closed to the public.

Today, cowboys in a howling helicopter stampeded horses into a man made trap 120 miles north of Winnemucca, Nevada in the federal Bureau of Land Management’s Tri State/Calico Complex. A thousand horses have been stampeded into traps since November. The roundups just began again after a break for the holidays.  The animals are being held in large holding pens on private land closed to the public except during tightly controlled visiting hours.

With roughly 245 million acres under its control, Horseback asked the BLM man in charge of the “gather” why horses are being housed on private, rather than public land. The BLM’s Gene Seidlitz, on the record:

HORSEBACK ONLINE: We understand the press and public are restricted from viewing the horses in the facility where the captured horses are being held.

GENE SEIDLITZ, BLM: Except on Saturday only where the private landowner has agreed to allow public access to view the holding corrals with animals.

HORSEBACK: Why is it up to the private landowner?

BLM: The private landowner and Sun-J (the helicopter contractor) have entered into an agreement for the use of that private land.

HORSEBACK: Why is it up to Sun-J?

BLM: Well Sun-J is the contractor, as you know…

HORSEBACK: I understand.

BLM: Based on the location of the holding corrals it offers better access to not only water but improved roads.

HORSEBACK: Let me ask you this Gene. You stand behind Sun-J as your contractor, I presume?

BLM: Could you repeat that question?

HORSEBACK: You stand behind Sun-J as your contractor I presume?

BLM: Do I stand by them?

HORSEBACK: Yes, are you supporting their decision?

BLM: To use private land?


BLM: That decision was not mine.

HORSEBACK: Answer the question, yes or no, do you support that decision?

BLM: The decision, like I said earlier was not mine. But obviously they felt this facility on private land had a capability and infrastructure in place in terms of water, corrals, and road access.

HORSEBACK: I suppose I’m going to ask you a third time, do you support that determination on the part of Sun-J to do this and deny the public access to this?

BLM: Well, it’s only a partial denial of access.

HORSEBACK: No, six days out of seven is a full denial.

BLM: However, we have allowed complete access at the gather site. What we’ve also done based on this private land’s lack of access besides Saturday is we’ve taken pictures of the horses and we’ve posted pictures to our web.

HORSEBACK: How many horses have been “gathered” so far?

BLM: As of last night the total is 1,145.

HORSEBACK: How many have died?

BLM: Cumulative to date non gather related it’s seven, and gather related deaths; it’s three, so it’s a total of ten.

HORSEBACK: As you know, Sun-J was subject to criticism after the recent report was made public. Have you hired outside scrutiny to report on that firm?

BLM: In terms of?

HORSEBACK: In terms of abuse. In terms of getting the helicopter too close to the horses.

BLM: As a result of the Triple B gather?

HORSEBACK: As a result of the report that recently came out citing them.

BLM: Since the release of that Triple B report, along with the press release from the director Abbey, what generated that report was an internal review of gather operations with the focus of humane and safe treatment of horses. So I’m keenly aware of the report, of the recommendations of the report, the membership that was put together for the team to do that report, absolutely, yes I am.

HORSEBACK: Again, is Sun-J under increased scrutiny?

BLM: It’s safe to say from the start of the Tri State/Calico Complex gather which started on November 19th, the day before they started, I as the district manager had a pre-gather briefing with them in which I outlined my leadership intent in terms of expectations of safe and humane treatment of the wild horses and the wild burros associated with the Tri State/Calico Complex. That was a written document that we went through line by line and they had a copy with them, and hopefully that copy is still with them because I presented it to them.

HORSEBACK: I have seen a photograph which was taken yesterday or the day before of Sun-J on this gather getting extraordinarily close to the animals

BLM: In terms of that photograph, I believe I’ve probably seen the same one based on dialog I had this morning with two of our visitors that I met with before they left our facility before they left to go to the gather site. I will, based on that picture, be out to the gather tomorrow on site as well as Saturday to watch operations from the gather site location and also will be interacting and dialoguing with the primary corps, public affairs, our visitors, our law enforcement, and then also the contractor. I also plan to then go to the temporary holding facility which is on private land and also observe the animals and integrate and participate with the staff there.

HORSEBACK: One final question. How much taxpayer money is being spent to keep these horses on private land instead of on BLM land, which would be free?

BLM: In terms of taxpayer money for the private land use, there is none.

HORSEBACK: How much is the contractor paying for the private land use?

BLM: That information I do not have, and that information probably exists between the landowner and Sun-J.

HORSEBACK: Is the United States government paying Sun-J with taxpayer money?

BLM: Steven, can you repeat that question please?

HORSEBACK: Is the United States of America paying Sun-J with taxpayer money?

BLM: For the gather overall for the safe removal of excess horses from public land, yes, taxpayer’s money is being used.

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26 replies »

  1. I am offended by BLM removal, transport, and warehousing of horses and burros on my dime. I am an equestrian and used to be a good-hearted BLM volunteer. I teach in a college Equine Studies Department. I have a B.S. in Agriculture, specializing in Watershed Management. Some of you know me from advocacy events over the last few years.

    One separated family band, one separated pair, one orphaned foal, one injury or death, is too many, for these reasons, with our money. One picture is worth a thousand words: Terry Fitch’s photo of cattle going onto the Antelope Complex AT THE SAME TIME horses were being FORCIBLY removed says it all.

    Try as I might to believe in my government, I fail to find any “protection” left for wild horses and burros on their own home ranges, as mandated in the very first words of the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, in its own opening statement of purpose: “To require the PROTECTION, management, and control of wild free-roaming horses and burros on public lands.” Try as I might to believe the path of destruction the DoI is laying for our horses and burros might end, it goes on blindly into a wilderness of injury and death.

    Except for a few, an emasculated Congress and a President who turns his face away continue to run our horses and burros over the cliff.

    I think we need a teach-in about wild horse and burro removals “around” a BLM field office in 2012; or “around” the DoI Building in Washington,DC; or at “The Fence” in the Pryor Mountains HMA. I think several thousand of us need to be there to teach each other, Congress, the American public, and the world, what is going on with America’s horses and burros, and the darkness they face at the hands of our government.

    I think we need to show the world what the insanity of 40,000 horses and burros removed from their home ranges and in captivity looks like.

    I wonder if there are people reading this who will help me.

    Because it is already late, and the DoI-BLM-Special Interest machine does not sleep.


    • “I think we need a teach-in about wild horse and burro removals “around” a BLM field office in 2012; or “around” the DoI Building in Washington,DC;”

      I could get to Washington, DC although not to the Pryors at this time.

      These are great ideas. I’m going to borrow some ideas from your post (if that’s OK) to send messages to the BLM, to President Obama and Salazar, the 5th generation rancher.


    • Dear Rob. How I agree with EVERY word you say in your comments about the roundup of the wild horses. I think its HORRIBLE. I wished, that we had fliers ALL over this country about what is going on, and then had THOUSEND’S of people, plus Animal rights organizations get together, and sit, arm and arm at the exits and entrances, where the BLM have organized the roundups. I bet, that would work, special with all the Media. NO WAY, they can arrest 100000’s of people at the same time. Also, to go to Washington. So little people have knowledge about, what is going on, “the Roundups.” . Solvejg Zaferes.


  2. BLM the ever increasingly dodge outfit, if they can find a loophole, they will continue to squeeze through it comfortably, without a care in the world. Why or why cannot a Judge, order law enforcement officers to oversee that welfare protection measures, are carried out to benefit the horses and mules during roundups.? A supervision order springs to mind. Damn right when you turn your back, they will get up to no good, give them an inch, and they will steal a yard. Basically, BLM are piss takers and dont they know it, dont they just. Lets face it they already have a scapegoat, to hide behind in the name of Sun J. Incidently, he should have had his marching orders ages ago.


  3. We need MORE people and media at the roundups. One or two people is not enough. But one thing I have YET to read is a statement like this that I would LOVE to see: “If you want to attend such and such roundup on such and such dates, here is the airport you should fly into and here is a meeting place and a map of where the round up will take place. The terrain is rough, so bring clothes and shoes that are appropriate for hiking and staying out for long periods of time in the elements. Bring your camera and journals to document. Bring a small backpack with food and water. Here is a contact number for so and so, and they will direct you as to where to go for the round up”….ALSO here is a list of do’s and don’ts on BLM land, what your rights are, and how to interact with the BLM should you encounter them.”

    I keep waiting for someone to tell the public WHERE to GO!!!!

    I am sorry to “yell” through the computer but I really don’t understand why we do not have this information for EVERY roundup and so here we are….sitting typing, signing petitions, calling, faxing, twittering, facebooking and so on….and this all great! But we need more public pressure and coverage by the larger media! If we don’t know where to go then we cannot plan to be there.

    I have been in contact with The Spirit Foundation and in conversation with them about having a screening of Wild Horses and Renegades here in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They are discussing it with their board and I am hoping we will have a screening the week prior the Summit of the Horse which will be held April 2nd-5th here in Oklahoma City

    Oklahoma has one of the highest concentrations of wild horses in captivity than anywhere else in the country. I visited Pauls Valley location just this past week, and trust me! It’s a real eye opener to see 700-800 head of wild horses on less than 500 acres RIGHT OFF a major highway!

    TELL US WHERE TO GO! This should be shouted from the rooftops and go viral on the internet. We also need to be repeatedly informed on where and when hearings will be held in terms of Laura Leigh and the charges against the BLM, so we can GO THERE and support her and the wild horses. And once again…what is the best airport…list of hotels in the area. I know that is more work but to get more involved we need more information.

    Also….if it is not being done already I suggest contacting all paper media in Montana and surrounding states offering stories and interviews AND WHERE TO GO and who to write to in order to stop this BLM insanity.

    And crap…where the hell is Viggo, Cheryl and Willie and Daryl with their own cameras and voice right now?


    • I have been wondering that for a long time, I would be there if I knew were to be. It’s not my blog ~ but I think we need an new approach


  4. Good interview Steven. I read yesterday on Elyse Gardner’s blog that horses were at the trap site without water after being chase and stampeded and left overnight with no water. So…the water “excuse” is utter you know what.


  5. Steven, your interview further shines the light on just how far the BLM is willing to go to hide Sun J’s inhumane and illegal behavior from the public, and the BLM’s full support of that behavior. Their only mission is to remove those horses and burros at all costs, regardless. I hope the judge hearing Laura’s first ammendment violation lawsuit next week will right this wrong once and for all.

    All comments here are right – we need ALOT more exposure to really put this issue front and center for the American public, despite a media that is willingly blind.

    Rob, I like your idea of the teach-in, because that many people gathering is bound to get coverage. And I’m certain we are all willing, but the biggest obstacle is not everyone has the budget to do it, as we are scattered across the U.S. We could stage multiple rallies on the same day, but I don’t think that would have the same effect. Is there a central location we could gather at? Might make travel more affordable. Just thinking out loud…


    • Keep thinking and talking. I will be graduating from a master’s program in May, with 2yrs. of grad school loan debt. I will find the $ to go somehow. If it has to be vacation money, or retirement money, or whatever. Think of it as a “working vacation.” Think of it as volunteering. We are having a meeting, a teach-in, and we need SO MANY volunteers! Volunteering for a non-profit is tax deductible for your expenses and mileage! Perhaps we need to find a central online place where we can start communicating about this. Any of you techies got an idea?


  6. My takeaway from Laura’s video is that what happend at the trailer was definately inhumane. At least one strong kick, the wrangler moving forward and back in the trailer probably pulling a neck rope on the horse, and someone proding it with what looks like a pretty stout metal pole. From a purely economic standpoint, I don’t know how Sun J stays in business. The way they do things just isn’t cost effective. I counted at least 8 wranglers harrassing a single horse for about 7 minutes, plus a truck/trailer tied up for the same length of time. The pilot loses money by chasing a few horses all over the place with no apparent skill. I don’t know how they can continue to stay afloat, but, since it’s just them and the Cattoors.

    BTW, despite what James Kleinert’s film purported to show, IMO, the Cattoors and the BLM did an excellent job at Spring Creek Basin in September, even under duress. Genetics of this small herd were preserved due to a number of years of excellent documentation, and removals WERE necessary to maintain the heath of the wild horses and the small, water and forage-poor range that supports them.


    • I want to amend my Spring Creek Basin Comment before people jump all over me. It was good that what the riders found on the chosen route was documented. Because of that, the barbed wire was removed and the route changed to avoid the muddy wash, and I believe the old cabin site with the dangerous, log-filled pit. Hopefully, this will encourage the contractor or BLM Rep to explore future routes for possible dangers. Re: the Cattoor’s pilot. He found a pretty good sized group of horses and was about to start bringing them in when he spotted a very young foal in the middle. So he backed off began again after they had disbursed.


  7. The abuses are getting worse instead of better. It has to be stopped along with the unnecessary removals. If water and forage are scarce they can be brought in at a much lower cost than the roundups. Leave the wild horses (what few are left) alone. JMHO.



    Thursday, January 5, 2012: Sun J and BLM reached new lows.
    Speaking of just one of the several mishandled, abusive chases of wild horses at the Paiute Meadows trap site which began today, for over an hour the horses ran, evading the trap at least two times with the Judas horse running in with no one following. In the midst of this melee, one of the studs being chased stood apart, obviously compromised, at one point laying down, displaying signs of likely colic.
    Despite observers’ alarm and firmly asking that the BLM COR call this chase off, the chase continued uninterrupted.
    Several horses escaped the trap this day. Video will be forthcoming. It’s bad, people; it’s very bad. Thank you for your patience.


  9. My pony Teddy Bear was a wild horse captured from Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND and sent to auction and while waiting in a kill pen he caught someone’s eye who thought he had a kind eye. They bought him from the auction for meat price and brought him home where his daughter’s named him Teddy Bear. They rode him around and then brought him to PA to sell him and nobody bought him so I bought him for a small amount just to give him a home. We needed to make room for more horses to train. Teddy was leased to a few different people but he really did shine when a 12 year old girl came to my farm to meet him and rode him around and they were a match. She took him to riding camp, rode him all over the countryside, took him to horse shows, jumped him over every jump beautifully, showed him in hunter classes again jumping everything winning blue ribbons for jumping and got a reserve champion ribbon for another horse show then to Pony Club rally where they won in an equitation class. I constantly heard her declare, “He’s the best pony in the world!” Teddy was destined to be meat on some Europeans dinner plate but because of the intervention he became the joy of this young girl’s heart who otherwise couldn’t have afforded to have her own horse. He continues to bring joy to a 7 year old child as she grabs his lead rope and says, “Come on Teddy, let’s go.” and another older child that rides him for pleasure. He’s now about 10 years old and most of his life he has brought joy to children and has been admired by adults. But if the NPS had it’s way he would have been meat in Europe instead of joy for American children. The next time you pay your taxes let’s consider how we want our money spent, serving dinner to Europeans or supporting our youth with our American bred horses, wild or domestic.


  10. You know i would love to know how they can , waste money that is to be used for their protection, for needless round ups that are so brutal mAny horses lose their lives, then they cram them into horrible living conditions , and tell us we cant see them//////////////????Look people we are talking useless no good rats (people @ BLM), that we are footing the bill for Desecration of our Mustangs, forcing undue terror on a animal that we decree to be free Roaming , just read the Roam Act, I dont want Humane care for them I Demand IT………………………….. And I demand that they stop All Round Ups, If Our President cannot man up on his promises they we must Man up for him.!!!!! They are Our Mustangs and we pay for them now lets get them back where they belong and stop all this total money wasting crap by the BLM……..we dont need them , but we need and want our horses thats the bottom line here, we need to over throw all this murdering nonsense and take back what belongs to US>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


  11. So basically, they met behind closed doors, cooked up the idea to do this on private property & hold the paying tax payer at bay. Is anyone surprised that we pay them to screw over the horses and the tax payer? Our government is so damned corrupt that not one of them is worthy of their jobs. This is beyond infuriating and hoping a new complaint can be filed with the present court case. This is obstruction pure and simple.


  12. Good Points All: I think we need to form a coalition with names, numbers and email addresses for all the advocates. Currently we are scattered all over the US and have not had any direction. RT, I would be willing to compile a list of our advocates which we could use in the future. As many of us have said, we need dates and times of events so that people in those areas could possibily be available. As individuals our voices are divided, but our voice as a group is not so easy to silence. Or can we do this through the Wild Horse Freedom Federaion?


  13. Guys you know that GAO report about the horses, well I’m starting to think that sue wallis’s people might fabricated it a little bit, well I remember hearing the GAO report was leaked to sue wallis. you know how it recommends congress to ban horse slaughter completely, and it also recommends reinstating USDA inspections, sue wallis and her cult might of added the part that said reinstate USDA inspections, I might be able to trick wallis into giving out her true reason to slaughter horses.


  14. I hope the 10 dead horses read the manual and know that they received humane and safe treatment. I guess I interpret things differently from BLM–like non gather deaths– when the plan is executed to stampede the horses, then every death is gather related. A non-gather-related death could not be counted–no one would see it happen. (?) I’m so pleased that Sun-J has their hands on my federal dollar–that they can contract with a private citizen. Can I deny them access to my federal account? How can I find out how much that citizen earned for the use of his land? Why are “public” horses held on private land? That’s not right! When will BLM do something–anything RIGHT??


  15. This will come as a surprise to few that come to R. T.’s blog, but the administration of the BLM does not work for us, even though we pay their salaries. They work for ranchers. They and Sue Wallis are employed by the same people. They and Sue Wallis have the same end-game in mind for our wild horses and burros.
    These ranchers have managed to mantain control of public lands and destroy our wild horses and burros despite a federal law that is supposed to protect them. Without the BLM’s compliance, the ranchers’ power would have been effectively neutralized. However, when an influential rancher needs something done, and a low or mid level BLM employee stands in his way, you know who is going to go.

    Aiming to halt the roundups may have been too low a goal. The entire agency needs to be gutted. Again, I am certain that there are some fine people who work for the agency, but the only thing about this federal agency that seems to systematic or systemic is deception.

    The Public Lands Council and the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association are working to promote Sue Wallis’s goals. When John Falen thanked Sue and UOH for organizing the slaughter fest in Las Vegas last year, he put the PLC in the driver’s seat. When the President of the NCA blamed excessive numbers of wild horses for the crisis in domestic horse welfare (which we hadn’t had the GAO tell us we had yet), we see the tea leaves a little differently. Sue is not calling the shots; she’s taking orders.

    Rob, I like your idea of a teach-in.


    • Hoofhugs, you’re right that Sue Wallace (and Dave Duquette) are only the tip of the speak for the Big Ag organizations and corporations that have funded the pro-horse slaughter campaign. From the beginning, Sue, Dave, and members of United Horsemen have argued that not funding USDA inspectors is a grave threat to all animal agricutural interests. UH is a small organization with relatively few dollars to pay for trips to DC and elsewhere. Whos’ paying for all this, including the Summits? UH or Big Ag?

      A bit off-topic, but Senator Bernie Sanders (I,VT) has introduced a bill in the Senate to overturn allowing corporations and PACs the same status as persons, which was upheld two years ago by the Roberts Supreme Court 5-4. He’s asking for a Constitutional Amendment, and there is a similar bill in the House. Please take a few minutes to watch Snaders’ powerful speech, sign the petition, and pass it on to as many of our fellow citizens as possible.



    Humane Observer said…

    The horses are not going to Broken Arrow in Fallon in this present Calico roundup of 2011/2012 although they did in the previous Calico roundup of 2009/2010. In this present Calico roundup, the horses are being sent to Palomino Valley Center in Sparks, Nevada, which is a public BLM facility.

    The BURROS, however, WILL BE GOING TO BROKEN ARROW, and WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SEE THEM.. And since they are only letting the public into Temporary Holding (where the newly captured horses and burros spend the night before being shipped to either PVC or Broken Arrow) on Saturday mornings, we will only be able to see burros caught on Friday. THIS IS WRONG.. Then I won’t be able to see them in BROKEN ARROW. THE PUBLIC NEEDS TO START PRESSING BLM TO ALLOW US INTO BROKEN ARROW. BROKEN ARROW’S CONTRACT WITH BLM STATES THAT THE PUBLIC IS ALLOWED ONCE A WEEK, YET BLM REFUSES TO ALLOW EVEN THAT.

    Pertaining to the horses at Palomino Valley (“PVC”), we are able to go and see them during regular business hrs when PVC is open. I documented the horses there during the last week of Phase 1 of this roundup, which ended just before Christmas I am unable to get there now during this roundup, which is every day, because it is over 2 hours from Winnemucca, and I’m already driving 5 hrs daily to cover this roundup. You are welcome to go and view the horses there at PVC, and I hope more people will.


  17. After reviewing comments from “BLM” to questions presented by Horseback, I have a question:

    Why doesn’t BLM know the subcontractor agreements and monies involved with roundups of publicly owned wild equines gathered from public lands to private roundup facilities?

    It’s a big Duhhhh???? to me.


  18. If the cattlemen are allowed their cattle on these lands for free then why can’t we form an organization to buy & own the wild mustangs & then let them go on the public lands that are paid for by the tax-payers. The BLM would be made redundant. What is good for the goose ect…….I would buy one if it meant they could stay on the land they were born on. If it meant Cloud & his band would be left alone…sign me up for one!


  19. Wish you would send these stories to NBC or ABC and you would truely see a big reaction from the public. The regular consumer is blind as to what goes on.


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