Horse News

Anti-Horse/Pro-Slaughter Elko Commissioner Endorses Welfare Ranching Over Eco-Sanctuary

News from Multiple Sources

DeMar Dahl continues to push for subsidized welfare cattle grazing over federally protected Wild Horses and Burros

Cow Crazy County Commissioner DeMar Dahl Brings Failed Federally Subsidized Welfare Ranching Program Into Public Focus

ELKO, Nev. —An Elko County commissioner and longtime critic of environmental restrictions on federal lands says a proposed eco-sanctuary for hundreds of wild horses in northeast Nevada will damage the range and could put some ranchers out of business.

“Is that what we want to do, take viable cattle ranches important to the economy and switch it so now they’re horse sanctuaries and the taxpayers support the horses there?” said DeMar Dahl, the commission’s chairman of public lands.

Madeleine Pickens, wife of oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, and her nonprofit group Saving America’s Mustangs want to establish the eco-sanctuary across nearly 100 square miles east of Elko and south of U.S. Interstate 80 – from the Ruby Mountains to near the Utah line.

Pickens bought two ranches last year that cover about 18,000 acres south of Wells, but along with the titles come rights to a grazing allotment across another 550,000 acres of federal land that includes three existing Horse Management Areas designated by the BLM.

BLM officials announced on Thursday they will begin a two-year study to analyze the potential environmental, social and economic impacts of the plan.

Dahl said backers of the project “have a big hurdle to cross” to prove that the concentration of as many as 900 horses won’t cause harm to public rangeland in violation of U.S. environmental regulations.

Ranchers manage cattle and the range by putting cattle in one area for a time and then moving them to another so the range can heal, but with horses, “they just stay there year-round,” he told the Elko Daily Free Press.

Pickens disagreed. She said the proposed eco-sanctuary won’t affect cattle ranchers “one bit,” and she hopes “we can all be friends.”

Under the proposal, Saving America’s Mustangs would improve and maintain fencing and water wells and oversee management of the horses, which would remain under federal ownership. The group also would also provide Western history and wild horse-related education and promote ecotourism.

BLM spokesman Tom Gorey said the agency’s decision to formally review the proposal under the National Environmental Policy Act is only the first step in the approval process.

“It’s not a done deal,” Gorey said. He said the agency hasn’t decided whether to conduct an environmental assessment or the more extensive environmental impact statement.

“It’s a major proposal. This more than likely will be an environmental impact statement,” he said.

25 replies »

  1. The concentration of 900 horses? If 900 horses are such a “risk” (how many acres are we talkin about again?) then how many cows are there? Scratchin’ my head here trying to understand the “problem”. There are already 3 designated “horse management areas” in a space totalling 550,000 acres? How much acreage is given to the horses? 100? Can someone make any horse sense out of this for me please? “…horses just stay there all year round.” This just gets more and more confusing. “Environmental Impact Statement?” Two year undertaking? Welfare for cattle ranchers….and I thought Americans’ had issues with socialistic idealisms. Oh but not socialism for all…choose and pick the socialistic ideas that benefit your capitalistic plans? Oh America – God love ya.


    • In all our glory and stupidity and selfishness ya gotta love us! Even though “some” of us make me want to tear my hair out sometimes


  2. God gave us all these creatures on earth to take care of, not slaughter at our convenience…Way to go Mrs Pickens keep up the good works !!!!


  3. I can understand ranchers concerns as they have been living high on the welfare grass and enjoying a very profitable life. Problem is they don’t own the grass and they don’t want to share. As for them going out of business, well that’s just silly. The number of horses Madeline is proposing to bring in scattered out over 550,000 acres is but a mere inconvenience. If they won’t be able to portion control then they need to make other arrangements to pay their bills.

    Range wars over grass and water have been going on for well over a hundred years. Nobody wins until they sit down together and talk it out. The grass and water was put here for everyone and everything. The ranchers can’t have it all. It’s not their’s to horde. They can share it but that’s it.

    We’re back to the greed factor…to hell with mother nature, to hell with living breathing beings, to hell with everyone else…”I want a new Expedition”.


  4. I guess I am confused. If Madeline owns that land and through tht ownership has access to the other acres of BLM land that is free to be used as forage for quote Livestock; then what’s all the carrying on about. As I see it, thy have to share. She owns a ranch they own ranches. She shares the free forage, they share the free forage. Who made thm God? Am I wrong? Because if I am,can someone please help me here?


    • I am confused, too. If Madeleine owns the land, then that’s just too bad if the cattlemen don’t like it. IT’S HER LAND….SHE BOUGHT IT!! But Madeleine is a considerate, classy woman and already said there was plenty of room for the cows, too. And I also don’t understand AT ALL why the feds get to keep ownership of the horses?????????? We all know how devious and shady they are. At any time they could take the horses back. “Donations” could even sway them. I am so utterly happy for the horses, but still, so many aspects of this deal I’m just not getting.


      • It is about the leases (aka grazing permits) that adjoin the private land that Ms Pickens’ owns. The right to those leases transfer with the private land sale…….BUT (and this is a BIG BUT!…just ask Western Watersheds) you gotta do what DOI wants you to do with that land….like run cattle and hate wild equines.


    • There is apparently a provision in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that allows local residents to have a say in how federal land in their area is used. They get to have a voice in the long range (10 year planning process on federal lands) that can override federal law apparently. The public is also allowed to have input. That is why it is important to comment on Resource Management Plans (RMP’s) when we notices that meetings on them are ring to take place. I believe it is this little provision that allows or requires the federal courts to rule to allow horses to be removed from areas when it appears to us that this clearly a violation of the Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971.

      Paradoxically, the most passionate wild horse love and wild horse hate seem to be located in Nevada where ordinary citizens for years have been regularly treated to the thrill, beauty and inspiration of wild horse herds running in the wild. They have been able to just pull their cars over to the side of the road and watch wild horses in flight and in play. On the other hand, ranchers have enjoyed the freedom to pluck wild horses from the herds and sell them (usually) for slaughter or breed them with their own herds to create more horses to sell for meat or to work their ranches (and then sell for meat).

      There is an under-educated element in the ranching community that does not understand that current research supports that land is healthier when grazed by multiple species. All land has to be managed, and the BLM has apparently relegated too much responsibility for actually managing the land to those with cattle grazing permits. Any species will overgraze an area i
      if the land is not managed properly.


  5. Just one more pro slaughter idiot that is only looking out for the rich cattlemen. What else is new? Go get ’em Madeline!


  6. Big Daddy doesn’t share or play well with his friends. Yes Dahl change does come no matter how long you kick and scream or hold your breath till you turn blue. No matter how many times you call the Cattlemens Assoc and how many lawyers and lobbyists you send scurrying to DC. Instead of putting your boot down hard why not try working with Madeleine with an open mind.

    My fear is there will be harrassment of the horses from hard nosed people that carry your attitude.


    • Well said MorganG! I totally agree. I also read the work MPickens has created in the last yr the locals are happy about it, it’s brought new life to the area and the welcome the plan. Dahl is similar to an old dinosar and he’s not above the rule of law, we’ll all be watching MPicken’s 900 horses like babies in a nursery.


  7. How old is this dude anyway? I think he’s had his way long enough and his say often enough. Move aside Grandpa, it’s time for new ideas in your little part of the world. Why don’t you go fishing?


  8. Amazing listening to the video at CBS. Very telling when Dahl calls it “my range”. No Dahl, its OUR range. Since Madeleine will be taking horses out of long term holding which have been gelded how do these ranchers figure there is going to be the 20% yearly increase? Oh how BLM just loves that 20% figure.


    • Morgan,
      This 20% figure and the use of this 20% figure despite the 1982 National Academy of Sciences Report that stated this model is false because there are biases in the construct of it is emblematic of the deceit beneath the BLM’s entire wild horse and burro program.

      As early as 1982, just 11 years after the 1971 law was passed, NAS put the real number of at less than 10% when figures like first year mortality and others were figured in.

      And for how many years now have we been using the same old figure of 38,500 wild horses on the range despite closing a huge percentage of Herd Management areas, treating wild horses with PZP, adjusting sex ratios, gelding, etc.

      They show water holes destroyed by cattle and try to say that the type of destruction to riparian areas clearly observable to anyone with eyes connected the brain cells that is done and documented to be done by cattle. Yet, the BLM puts pictures of this activity on its web site and says that it is done by cattle. They put videos of healthy wild horses with shiny coats and bright eyes with a body score of 5, 6, or 7 standing in the background of one of their mouth pieces trying to explain why they are going to round up these horses for their own good.

      I have really tried to look for instances when the BLM has stated something publicly that can be proven to be true about their management of wild horses and burros or about the nature of wild horses and burros. I am still looking for even one piece of scientific fact that supports their management policies or rather their lack of management policies. Sadly, the BLM has proven that it is nothing more than a tool for public lands ranchers and the cattle industry. The BLM is not an agency run by the federal government for the protection of federal lands nor is it engaged in multiple uses—well perhaps it is now an agency for hunters and ranchers—so it becomes primarily an agency for the segment of society that sees the killing of animals as part of their God given rights to the pursuit of pleasure.

      I am not anti-animal agriculture nor am I anti-hunting. Both are part of my family’s
      narrative and the narrative of the areas where I have lived most of my life. I love the outdoors–riding, kayaking, swimming (I spent five summers during college living in a floor tent next to a river) essentially living outdoors 24/7 for two months as a camp counselor, but I am anti-prevaricating politicians and bureaucrats. The American people are not stupid, and I am really getting tired of dealing with people who treat us as if we are. Thanks to the Internet, we have access to a great deal of information that previous generations did not. Though it is challenging to sort through the propaganda, it can be done. Truthful information is there and it can be found and verified. Therefore, the so called experts and their evidence and conclusions can be questioned by a discerning, educated public.

      The American people have been blindly paying to support a federal agency with no scientific integrity at all for 40 years. The use of scientific integrity would completely destroy their lack of scientific management strategy. They continue to use this strategy and continue to attempt (emphasis on attempt) to deceive the public, the acting IG of Interior, Congress, and the courts.


    • You’ve got that right, Denise! Same with the horse slaughter plants….money going to foreign investors, etc.. Meanwhile, our horses will be brutely slaughtered, environmental damage to our communities, cost to taxpayers and a heavy burden on our society, if the new bill, H.R. 2966 , American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, is not passed. There’s too much at stake and we must do everything we can to see that it’s passed!


  9. More B___ Sh___ from the BLM..It just drives me crazy. I hope that Madeliene buys every single
    ranch out there that she can..Cattle are the destroyers of the land. They will over graze an area even after nothing is left. These ranchers have denied the truth for so long that they continue to believe the lies. I agree with posts above. I reviewed my information regarding the European Union’s regulations for horses going to Canada. The Legislators in this country better get with the program because until now the regulations have been very lax. They need to pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act and come up with a plan..It appauls and disguests me that our equine friends are being sent out of our country. At some point, American horses will not be accepted outside this country and this is what the Ugly Horse Eatters are waiting for.. Send the foreign companies packing..We do not want you here!



    Abracadabra Addendum
    A recent series of posts regarding BLMs newly approved Ely Resource Management Plan, which eliminated almost 1.6 million acres of habitat and over a dozen wild horse Herd Management Areas in the Fall of 2008 was originally intended to be limited to a series of six. However, surprise, surprise, something new popped up…

    Apparently, big plans have been in the works for many of the wild horse Herd Management Areas in the Ely District, much of it affecting many of the now zeroed out “unsuitable” habitats.

    In December 2008, two new massive proposals were released by the BLM and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in partnership with the BLM, which are currently open for public comments.

    Southeastern Lincoln County Habitat Conservation Plan
    USFWS has just released a Draft Plan to help mitigate impacts to wildlife and Threatened and Endangered Species as a result of booming development now on the horizon in the Southern Lincoln County Area.

    The groundwork for this plan actually began in the good ole year of 2000 and it references the planning efforts of the new Ely RMP occurring at the same time, though it is apparent this was written long before the current plans release last month as it only references the 2005 Ely RMP with “projections” of the Proposed RMPs release in 2007; no mention of its approval in August 2008.

    Spanning several hundred pages, it describes the new plans “Purpose and Need for Action” as; Need for Incidental Take by Lincoln County, City of Caliente and Union Pacific Railroad, which in essence means these three entities are getting the rights to “incidentally” destroy habitat and species alike of the Desert tortoise and Southwestern willow flycatcher. The proposal covers almost 1.8 million acres.

    It also includes various legislative histories affecting the area such as the Lincoln County Land Act of 2000 and the Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation and Development Act of 2004 as well as myriad of other lesser but still important plans cranked out by the Nevada Legislature, the County Commission and various local bodies.

    The $47 million dollars gleaned from lands sold on February 9, 2005 through the Lincoln County Land Act was of particular interest as well as the descriptions of how these funds are to be distributed. The breakdown goes like this:


  11. This jack$#@ doesn’t acknowledge the equine benefits to the land and without which there would be no grass for his sacred cows on MY PUBLIC lands. Why won’t these free loading welfare ranchers die already? (looks like he’s had a long subsidized life, time to move on)
    BTW, the webcast of the pro-slaughter BLM board meeting has been blocked “the channel owner has prohibited viewing from this webpage”. So much for transparency as they discuss the final blows for our wild ones.


  12. The wild horses and burros have been on this range RANGE since the 14th century and no damage last time I was out there the RANGE looked fine. I studied horses and horse health for over 39 years I am not just some person talking about something I know nothing about. I know horses from the head to the tail. On 550,000 acres 900 horses you won’t even see and by the time they get around to start at the beginning to graze other areas will be filled in. There is no way this is going to effect the cattle people. Or put them out of business. The cattle people simply want more land…well you don’t own it. There is no threat of the cattle people going out of business. You have more deer out there eating the grass than horses. Wild horses do not live as long as a domestic horses. There life span is very short. Due to disease, broken bones, worms, Bots eat there stomachs so there are not wild horses living out there until they are 30 years old. If that were the case since the 14th century we would not be able to move there would only be horses. Educate your self and know what the cattle people are saying is only for there pockets. Meat is money and they want it.


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