Horse News

NYT: Wild Horses Running Out of Captive Room as Debate Over Fate Intensifies

By of the New York Times

Carol Walker: “Seeing these horses out in the wild and then seeing them in a holding pen, it will break your heart,”

“FYI, we do not agree with the numbers or BLM propaganda that appears here but we hope that the comments made by Suzanne and Carol speak to the hearts and souls of the American public.” ~ R.T.

Ms. Walker with her adopted wild horses Mica, Cremosso and Claro ~ photo by Matthew Staver for The New York Times

Ms. Walker with her adopted wild horses Mica, Cremosso and Claro ~ photo by Matthew Staver for The New York Times

CAÑON CITY, Colo. — The herd of wild horses clopped cautiously toward the strangers in their pen. A chestnut mustang leaned in for a closer look, sniffing and snorting curiously. Another inched backward, her black eyes flashing with fear.

For many, this would be their first outside human contact, beyond the workers who feed them at this 80-acre holding facility 100 miles southwest of Denver.

“They have all their needs met here. Except their freedom,” said Fran Ackley, who oversees the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program in Colorado. “I can’t say if they want it or not.”

Long an iconic totem of the American frontier, the tens of thousands of wild horses who roam across forgotten stretches of the rural West are at the heart of an increasingly tense dispute over their fate.

The bureau says their numbers continue to grow at an unmanageable rate, despite years of removing wild horses from the range to enclosed pastures so that wildlife and livestock can share the land.

Horse advocates contend that the government’s approach has not only failed, but is also needlessly cruel. And they say the horses should be able to live out their lives freely.

Despite deep differences on how the animals should be managed, both sides agree on one thing: The situation has reached a tipping point.

These days, the temporary holding facilities and long-term pastures where many wild horses end up are nearing capacity or full. And the cost of caring for them has ballooned over the past decade.

“We’re looking at critical mass,” said Tom Gorey, a spokesman for the bureau. “The fact is we can’t be in a position of gathering horses that we can’t take care of. The capacity issue is staring us in the face.”

The question of what to do with the animals — descendants of United States Cavalry horses, workhorses and horses brought here by Spanish settlers — has confounded the federal government for decades.

In an effort to maintain a stable population, while also preserving public land, Congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, allowing the bureau to remove “excess” wild horses from the range.

But with virtually no natural predators, herds typically double every four years. Currently, about 37,300 wild horses and burros roam across federal rangeland in 10 Western states, about 11,000 more than what the bureau deems manageable.

Each year, the bureau conducts roundups to thin the population. Low-flying helicopters drive the animals into traps before they are taken to holding facilities and permanent pastures.

The roundups have long been criticized by horse advocates as inhumane and dangerous.

“Their entire approach is wrong. The B.L.M. puts all its emphasis on removing and stockpiling horses as opposed to managing them on the range,” said Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. “There needs to be a more humane way, a more cost-effective way of managing these animals.”

Photos taken by advocates of a recent roundup in northern Nevada appear to show several confused horses stumbling into a barbed wire fence. Another shows a wrangler with a foal slung across his saddle. Advocates said the animal collapsed after being stampeded for miles. (continued…)

Please click (HERE) for the Rest of the Story…

37 replies »

  1. I don’t think the article was excellent, it spewed blm propaganda regarding population levels in the wild, no mention of the 70% of bands that are below genetic viability and the herds that are viable are in blm crosshairs targeted for removal, no mention that these horses have nearly 30 million acres of legal domain and there is plenty of room for those on the range & in holding but not 7 million cows, no mention that the blm advisory board is stacked w/ pro-slaughter proponents even the one that sits in for “public representation”, no mention of the 7+million cattle/sheep destroying our public lands, no mention of the wild horses benefits to the land, no mention wild horses are being eradicated from their legal domain and replaced with cows, no mention of the other extractionists pushing the horses off their legal domain, says no predators to keep herds in check but then they say winters & forage on the range can be harsh so they’re better off in captivity – nature is about harsh winters and survival of the fittest, natural selection and so on. Gorey said blm has gone above & beyond the ACT? They NEVER adhered to the ACT. No mention that Tom Davis is salazoo’s neighbor and worked on salazoo ranch. No mention about the thousands that disappear from holding with no accountability and blm’s numbers never add up. No mention of the prisons profiting from OUR wild horses. Then they gripe about the cost of their sins while on their website bragging that they are the only government agency making money: “In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, recreational and other activities on BLM-managed land contributed more than $130 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 600,000 American jobs. The Bureau is also one of a handful of agencies that collects more revenue than it spends. In FY 2012, nearly $5.7 billion will be generated on lands managed by the BLM, which operates on a $1.1 billion budget. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.”


    • Good pick up on article L. Norman. I agreed with everything you saw and talked about. It was BLM slanted. R.T.was right about the closing words; but better to be adopted than slaughtered. Kudos to the people who reach out to rescue, adopt and train these horses.maybe not wild and Farr anymore; but a least they are alive and loved not on a dinner plate in Europe.


      • I Pad drives me nuts not Farr, FREE. One handed typing due to Rotator Cuff surgery. I still want to heard.


  2. They’ve dug the hole but I’ll be damned if they’re going to use the Burn’s Amendment to climb out of it. I doubt it will hold up in court if challenged anyway because it is a direct contradiction to the Act and the spirit in which it was written.

    This writer is just another of those who take BLM BS and sensationalize it to get something on the wire. There is really nothing here we didn’t know already.


  3. HAMMER, HAMMER, and then….HAMMER some more and don’t let up:

    An Interview: BLM Theft and Lies and the Wild Horse Herd Roundups
    The amazing fact is, not only is there abuse within the BLM roundups ongoing, even as this article written, but currently one can truthfully state that “Billions of Dollars” of “Taxpayer Money” has been spent in this “Illegal” and “Unethical” situation. Profoundly the situation is ongoing. Certainly many aspects of it illegal, and certainly abounds in misconduct of not only government employees but private contractors as well. We’re just now just scratching the surface of this layered activity

    This is an industry, Wild Horse Roundups and Horse Slaughter combined, and that makes money in abundance, most often from using taxpayer money. The BLM, the government agency responsible for Administering and Oversight, does not perform either function in a legal or responsible manner.
    It is geared toward making money, and that’s it – To hell with the Horses, to hell with the taxpayers, to hell with Government responsibility within their capacity of being Stewarts of American’s lands. The BLM and their contractors are currently functioning without any boundaries what so ever.

    Rather than me write about it, I’ve received an interesting interview. This interview takes place between a BLM Special Agent, and a BLM contractor and informant. The Special Agent and his material was then rejected by BLM Officials as being contrary to their ongoing policy, and then covered up.

    The Special Agent threatened within several disciplinary functions, administered by other BLM authorities as well as their legal department. Essentially, the interview transcript, thought to be the only copy, was destroyed by BLM legal department Attorneys. The Special Agent did keep a copy for himself. This is a patchwork of pertinent items taken from the actual interview.

    The Interview:



    Wild Horses: The Stresses of Captivity by Bruce Nock PhD

    Click to access bruce-nock.pdf

    The evidence that stress is a powerful destructive force is indisputable. It pokes and prods, finds weaknesses, and then exaggerates them … turns them into pathologies. Diseases and disorders from the common cold to degenerative diseases like diabetes to the atrophy of certain brain regions are now known to be caused or made worse by stress. There is every reason to believe the same is true for horses. And it may be hard to believe but psychological stress is the worst kind.
    So let me tell you what happens to a wild horse’s physiology when he/she suffers the severe stress, trauma, of being chased by a helicopter and sequestered into captivity. Then, I’ll tell you what some of the consequences are. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say, as ‘gathers’ are routinely done in the USA, if a wild horse doesn’t die straight off from the immediate devastation and commotion, it compromises him/her physically and mentally, putting him on a path of accelerated deterioration.
    In his summary Dr Nock states:

    What our government is doing to the wild horses of the western US and the way it is being done is an atrocity. It is an injustice against nature. Even the horses left behind or turned back out suffer from the social disorder gathers cause.


  5. Just put them all back, and leave them alone. God intended for them to be there. All the advocate groups need to band together as one massive force, and be loud!


  6. “They have all their needs met here. Except their freedom,” said Fran Ackley, who oversees the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program in Colorado. “I can’t say if they want it or not.” Oh, Ms Ackley, you REALLY can’t say?? Maybe you really WON’T say, since it would severely contradict your propaganda! How about the evidence manifest in the horses attempts to escape from the stampede? How they fight to crawl over the fence panels or evade the malevolent helicopter? And Ms Ackley, consider that they have NO shelter in the stockyards they are confined to—no shade in the heat of summer, no windbreak from the biting wind and sleet and snow of winter. “all their needs are met”—what a pathetic assessment from a virtual machine of a woman…..


    • I’m afraid I “lost it’ when I read those words from a loyal BLM team player, Susan.

      Maybe Ms. Ackley said “can’t” because she had been threatened with severe consequences — firing? — if she were to reveal what she really thinks? Maybe she’s supporting her kids on a single income and can’t afford to leave her job, but would if she could? One never knows someone’s motivations for being less than candid. But I hope most readers are smart enough to see through the dissembling.


  7. The email that I was sent from Animals Angels today proves beyond a doubt that Bouvry is breeding horses for slaughter. The investigation they have done over many months shows mares with foals that are left in pens with no shelter in the snow and cold. They said they they think the foals die from exposure to the low temps. I subscribe to their newsletter. And another thing they said was that Bouvry uses the Florance packing plant in Washington where I live to hold horses until they are hauled to Bouvry’s in Canada. I imagine they go to a feed lot. They are breeding mostly draft horses and the animals are all overweight. They pour the feed to them all day long. All of them are so fat they can hardly walk and it is effecting their health because a lot of them just lay down most of the time. There is no one working at these vast pastures keeping a eye on the horses at all. The only thing the workers do is feed, besides the trucks hauling manure out to the hay and grain fields before they are planted. There was one photo of a mare that had got in trouble foaling when the foal came part way out head first instead of feet first. She needed help but no one was around and when the investigator found her the foal had died still stuck the mare was leaking blood from her teats. There is not way to know how long she had been like this. They called the SPCA the A-Hole that finally showed up ignored the downed mare and was laughing and talking with one of the employee’s and said there was nothing he could do and left. He even told the investigators they were on private property and for them to leave. From the last photo it looked like the mare had died. No one was interested in putting her out of the horrible misery she was in. This is what has been happening to US horses after going across the border if they are used for breeders. There was a lot of mares with foals that were not the draft breed also. This is a very large operation with some 5000 horses here in different pens. The only place that wasn’t over crowded was the mare pastures.


    • I also read the Animal Angels report and picked up on the same vibe. Bouvary’s attempts to get by the new stricter EU drug passport laws by actually breeding horses for slaughter, like cows and sickened me that this may be ther foul answer to keeping their trade with th EU truly breaks my heart.


  8. There is something else I need to pass on too. It looks like the horse breeding is being done in anticipation of the EU crackdown on the drugs this summer. This is how they intend to keep their slaughter business going with the EU. If none of these horses are given any pain killers or any vet drugs they will be slaughtered as drug free even without the passport to show only taking Bouvry’s word for it if the EU inspectors will except it. That’s my opinion. But this sure don’t look very good for the US kill buyers even with Bouvry’s large number of kill buyers in the US that buy for Bourvy. They are not going to be able to fake the passports. The way things are looking Bourvy wont’t need to buy US horses with his breeding operation. Again that’s my opinion.


    • I totally agree with your opinion. It hasn’t been said straight out; but anyone would be a fool not to see the implications. In their attempts to keep their nasty business thriving they seem to find a way around everything that is thrown at them in our attempts to stop them. Horse Slaughter for Human Consuption has to be made illegal in the US, Canada and even in the EU. That is the only way to stop big processing plants like Bouvary.


  9. As far as i am concerned, the Blm has never conducted a Round Up , they have all been inhumane full fleched Murderous Stampedes, they could careless if any of the Mustangs survive!!!!! There treatment to the Mustangs , at any one point is horrendous, and purely Criminal…..under their own set of rules and regulations,,,,, Investigation has been in order for a long time !!!!Congressional Investigation……………..Now !!!!


  10. Wow, Louie. Did you read the comment by TheJAG57 at the bottom of the WordPress page?

    A book I’m reading, “The Press and the Cold War” (James Aronson, (c) 1970), quotes Marshall Field III as saying that he believed a newspaper’s function was not “viewing with equal impartiality both sides of the struggle between the strong and the weak, the big and the small, the monopolists and the independents.”

    This NY Times article wouldn’t meet with his approval were Field here today. It treats equally “the strong and the weak . . .,” etc. It is lazy “he said, she said” note-taking — stenography — with a few calls made to the horse advocates to give the appearance of impartiality.

    And because it isn’t real reporting — involves no independent investigating that I can ascertain — it doesn’t serve the public’s interest. So readers ignorant of the situation never learn the facts. They are left dangling, unsure who to believe. The especially gullible ones will accept the lies as truth. So sad that a newspaper of the Times’ stature is aiding and abetting a questionable government agency.

    Aronson described irresponsible reporting during the Cold War this way: “The press was no longer in the business of reporting or reflecting public opinion. It was seeking to become public opinion by means of the self-fulfilling prophecy: If you said something often enough, people would come to accept it and it would happen. When this practice is followed by adversaries, we call it brainwashing.”

    BTW, Louie, the link to Bruce Nock below goes to “page not found” for me.


  11. I wish they had mentioned the critical fact that the range previously supported a million wild horses and the number of welfare cattle our public lands now support. Those two numbers really put how many horses the range can actually support in perspective.


  12. We must find a way to save these horses and burros from slaughter. What about the government supporting private sanctuaries and rescues. When the economy gets better, the horses may find new homes with people that love them. This goes for the domesticated horses as well that would end up on the slaughter train. I firmly believe this is a better alternative that ending up in Canada or Mexico. It will never take the place of leaving these horses on their home ranges with their families, but it is better than having them die an excruiating death by these idiots that take pleasure in killing them. We must save these animals at all costs or future generations will never know these beautiful, smart, and kind animals. God gave us these animals to love and cherish and I believe he is testing us now to see if we will protect his animals. We will need to join together enmasse to win this battle but it will be worth it to see the cattle of the home ranges and the horses returned to their home ranges with their families. And, the government will not be wasting dollars on keeping them in pens after paying these idiot helicopter owners to chase them all over the ranges. We have to win this for these animals. THey cannot ask us for help but we need to make sure they are saved. at all costs.


    • Nothing doing. So I typed, then clicked on the dropdown menu “Resources,” and found Bruce Nock’s link under Fact Sheets (fourth link down). Then, when I tried to copy/paste the link into this post, it didn’t work. But it was easy to get there from the home page. Now, to read it.


    • Ah, look what I found on pp 9-10 of Dr. Nock’s piece: a conclusive answer to Fran Ackley’s “I can’t say if they want [their freedom] or not.”

      “A loss of control also goes along with captivity. Freedom of choice is merely something to dream about. I know, some of you are skeptical about this one, right? Consider this. Horses attain social order within a herd by forming a dominance hierarchy. But they don’t all go to the town hall and vote to decide the rank order; it’s the outcome of agonistic encounters—contests to see who can intimidate or out fight who. Have you ever wondered why horses fight to attain
      social order? It doesn’t make sense. Think about it. It’s like making a house messy so you can put it back in order. Why not leave well enough alone … everyone just mind their own business. Well, the truth is, a horse doesn’t strive to outrank another horse because he or she anticipates that it will lead to social order. That’s not it; social order is merely a byproduct. Horses strive for a high rank because high ranking horses go where they want to go and do what they
      want to do—Freedom of Choice—to horses, it’s worth fighting for.

      “The ability to control one’s own movement and activity is as important to horses as it is to us. The loss of control, on the other hand, is a powerful psychological stressor. In fact, it is a key factor in determining whether situations, events and circumstances are stressful and mentally or physically damaging.”

      Hope it was okay to quote that portion of his “All rights reserved” article.

      I also really liked his summary on pp 15-16. Very soul-stirring.

      Thanks for the referral, Louie.


      • Dear BlessUsAll , you really get it dont you !!!!!!!!! This is exactly how they feel “The ability to control one’s own movement and activity is as important to horses as it is to us. The loss of control, on the other hand, is a powerful psychological stressor. In fact, it is a key factor in determining whether situations, events and circumstances are stressful and mentally or physically damaging.” FREEDOM IS WHAT THEY MUST HAVE.TO THEM ITS IS THE AIR THEY BREATHE !!!!!!!!


      • Yes, Arlene, like you, I “get it,” for I know how it feels to not be free, and I know how it feels to be free, and it is impossible for me to believe that horses feel any differently.

        Just now I found this verse from a hymn by James Montgomery:

        God made all His creatures free;
        Life itself is liberty;
        God ordained no other bands
        Than united hearts and hands.

        The title of the hymn’s tune is, appropriately, “INNOCENTS.”

        We are brought together at this period in history, aren’t we, to defend the right to liberty that God instilled in us and in His horses.


  13. More excerpts from:

    Wild Horse Herds, Roundups, and Absurd Head Counts
    The Wild Horse Roundup issue in our Western United States is controversial and due to several reasons that, when scrutinized, simply does not meet the standards of a proper and legitimate decision making process. Especially to put to death, or send to slaughter Wild Horses — no matter how convoluted the ultimate process toward the slaughter — make no doubt the BLM is responsible. This article discusses one aspect of this henious situation, the BLM’s inappropriate and flawed head-count-procedure.

    The fact is this: Horse Roundups and Facilities Temporarily (corrals and ranchers of BLM friends and legislator’s friends) designed to hold horses from the unnecessary roundups cost taxpayers in excess of $92 million dollars a year. Add to this the Welfare Ranchers, paid also by tax dollars unnecessarily and for no need and out of date programs that do nothing for tax payers (i.e. Corporate Welfare), and in these same areas, and you have costs spiraling upward of $425 million dollars yearly. Very Extravagant! Very Unnecessary!

    Compare this to a mere $150,000 yearly budget to simply manage the horses appropriately, and we have America’s horses protected in a responsible manner – as they remain on our Public Lands.

    No Reason for a Round Up


  14. BlessUsAll, I think it is perfectly OK to publish information as long as we give credit to the author. What good is knowledge unless it’s shared? The same goes for photographs and articles.


  15. Indeed RT! Too bad NYT didn’t focus on the crux of the matter but gave too much play to BLMs distortion of the issue & forgot almost entirely about the paramount issue of the natural freedom &long term viability of the herds out on the vast public lands where they belong!


  16. There does not appear to be any place for comments or discussion on the article. Am I just not seeing it?

    WHO would be checking the prisons? How clever to move the captives to a place where there isn’t much danger of “Public Interference”:

    From AMERICAN HERDS 2009:

    Allegations, Hearsay and What the F*%k?
    It started the day after the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board’s Reno Meeting held on November 17, 2008 as an Anonymous phone call spilled through the airwaves into the ears of the International Fund 4 Horses. Prone to receiving a wide variety of odd, unverifiable and even crank correspondence, there was little that could be done with the Anonymous “tip” besides being highly disturbed.

    The hastily scribbled notes from the Anonymous caller read:

    *WATCH ALL HOLDING FACILITIES* as early as next weekend, but especially around Thanksgiving. The BLM have been fudging the numbers on what horses are where and how many.

    The Plan: 200-300 geldings are being moved about 40 at a time to Mexico for slaughter; 400-500 mares moved, then killed and buried at various facilities. Ditches for the bodies are being dug right now out in the desert, near an airbase so would be difficult for civilians to get out there. Will drive them to the spot, shoot them, then bulldoze them into the ditches and cover them up.

    Pulling off such a dastardly deed around Thanksgiving would be nothing new as it was the day before the Congressional Thanksgiving break the Burns Amendment was slipped in and the timing of the “tip” smacked of historical irony. It also bode well for covert activities, as most people would be busy with holiday festivities, family and friends.

    One month later on December 19th, 2008 between 10 p.m. and 8:30 a.m., 200 geldings and 100 mares plus their foals disappeared from BLMs Palomino Valley Holding Facilities (PVC). According to a local wild horse advocate (who’s identity is being kept anonymous here for obvious reasons), most of these were identified as wild horses that arrived last summer from the Nevada Wild Horse Range (aka Nellis) and North Stillwater gathers.

    These wild horses were well known by the observer due to the length of time they were held at PVC and a little less than three weeks before they disappeared, these same wild horses had been extensively photographed over the course of an entire afternoon.

    According to their report, despite being held captive for six months, which gave BLM more than enough time to geld all the stallions, many still failed to have BLM’s trademark freezebrand on their necks and some were even devoid of the telling rope collars with their dangling metal ID’s.

    Due to the weekend and then the holidays, no one was available to answer questions about where the 300 wild horses plus the foals had gone in the middle of the night…


    • Curious, Loiue…no comments allowed at NYT and I know why.

      I left that out of my earlier comment that is below.

      Really says it all, doesn’t it…..not a question, rhetorical and says it all without the question mark.

      Thanks for pointing that out. (BLM and the rest of the tax payer funded killers are big on “no comments”).


  17. As most have said previously on this blog…NOT an accurate “piece” and certainly full of killer rhetoric.

    Another example of a “journalist” writing about something that he or she knows nothing about or won’t take the time to do the history and math, but at least there are some wild equine advocate quotes.


  18. Some of you have referred to Fran Ackley as “Ms.” — I met Fran when I visited Canon City for several days and he was the assistant there. Fran Ackley knows whether or not a horse would take freedom over captivity or not. He knows it like he knows the back of his hand. He CAN say, but he WON’T — that IS correct, as Susan and some others of you point out.

    The day when Fran Ackley can stand up like a MAN and say what he really thinks, in public, will be the day that the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program, the DoI, AND AMERICA starts to change enough to make good policy and management. People, get ready. I am telling you, that day is now, and soon: Get ready to have a bigger hand than you ever have in making this change.


    • I met both Fran and Lona at the Spring Creek Basin Adoption in Cortez, CO, last September. My impression from talking with them for about a half hour is they’re searching for answers. I think if it was up to them they’d be partnering with anyone who would offer to and, most importantly, follow through with a practical training and adoption program. The problem is it’s not their decision.


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