Horse Health

BLM Writes to WHFF: ‘Rock Springs Wild Horse Holding Facility Update’

Forward by R.T. Fitch ~ volunteer president of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“It came from out of the blue…”

“Last Friday Debbie Coffey, Wild Horse Freedom Federation’s (WHFF) Director of Wild Horse Affairs, and myself as volunteer president of WHFF received a most unusual email, it simply read:


Please find an update about the Rock Springs Wild Horse Holding Facility.

Cindy Wertz

Public Affairs Specialist
Wyoming State Office
(307) 775-6014

Attached was the Word Document, below.  We were a little surprised as it came from nowhere but also are pleased to note that the BLM IS reading what we are writing/posting and someone seems to be paying attention.  We have not edited the document below and I did write back to Ms. Wertz and thanked her for the update; we do know how to act civil now and then.

But Deb and I thought that we would share this rare occurrence with you as evidence that yes, you can get someone’s attention if you keep knocking on the door long enough.  Keep the Faith!” ~ R.T.



Jan. 25, 2013

Contact: Cindy Wertz (307) 775-6014

Rock Springs Wild Horse Holding Facility Update

BLM HorsesEarlier this week, BLM cancelled an upcoming horse adoption because some of the younger (weanlings) horses at the Rock Springs Corral have strangles. Strangles is very common among all horses.  Strangles is an upper respiratory infection.

While stress can be a contributing factor, the fact is these horses have been residing in the corrals since they were gathered in early November. There is no correlation between that gather and their current condition.In fact, there have been reports that domestic horses in the same vicinity also have strangles. It is simply a bacterial infection.

Here is a current photo, taken at the Rock Springs facility. These horses are healthy and will still be available for adoption in March. The corrals have been temporarily closed since October so all animals received during the North Lander Wild Horse Gather could be evaluated by a veterinarian, dewormed, Coggins tested, and given their booster shots.

Here are some current photos of the weanlings. They came right up to the photographer.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

43 replies »

    • Never happen, but a nice thought. The killers want proslaughter, prolivestock grazing, mining, water thieves and most definitely anti wild equine “advocates” on their boards (stacking the deck).

      Not sure? Find one human appointed in the last 30 years that didn’t believe in wild equine removal or HCHS.

      Actions speak louder than words.


  1. Yes. It is good news (sort of) and it does appear that we are/still a force to be paid attention to.

    The only time I’ve seen any equine facility closed is because of a known health/disease issue….worming, shots, etc does not justify a closure, especially by a taxpayer funded PUBLIC facility.

    Now, where are the individual communiques on the vast remainder of h*ll hole holding facilities we are paying for? They don’t have PA/PR officers or managers?


    • The Salt Lake facility was closed because of the public outcry. I won’t go into all the boring details from my discussion last summer in Utah–suffice it to say BLM Utah didn’t quite agree.

      What’s important here is–BLM recognized WAY AFTER the fact that facility needed to be closed down, horses needed to be moved. The whole place needed to be cleaned out. They were worse than hoarders.


  2. BLM is holding thousands of horses. Their website only lists appx. 25 photos of adoptable horses. I would think more animals would be adopted if their photos were up there. Take the time to get homes for these animals before bringing more in. Maybe common sense doesn’t work for the government.


    • Intent, Kathy. Intent.

      They (and states and resource sucking cretins) want them dead and gone.

      Beside, you put photos up, a real advocate could track that wild equine and ask questions. They don’t want them tracked, or questions asked.


    • Terri:

      This is the proverbial “throwing the dog a bone”.

      Problem is, we aren’t dogs and advocates have been counting the bones of dead wild horses and burros for decades.

      The BLM reply is hardly a “pacifier…it is however, a psy-ops interesting event….the military folks will understand. BLM is attempting something. Whatever it is, it will not be enough to eradicate their malfeasance, incompetence, cruelty, criminal 1971 Act enforcement.

      Maybe they are starting to run scared?….Slaughterczar leaving, the Davis, et al slaughter debacles, more in holding than on the range, can’t census cows and sheep?????

      Maybe, just maybe the rumor mill at the DC headshed is a buzz about an ax that is about to fall?????


  3. Website question here….why are we responding to an RT post that shows on his tweet thread, but not in the “Most Recent Posts” header?

    Que paso? (up side down question mark)


  4. Although it may have been a nice gesture , ( I doubt it ) If one would compare Photos of them in the wild, you would see a huge different demeanor, these weanling s look troubled and unhappy and crowded, and where is the beautiful Spirit that will capture your heart at a glance, it is not there ??????? The main weanling in the second Photo speaks of the horrors he already endured ,,,, I could cry and I did……….. A picture tells a thousand words and these give 2 thousand words of complete distress………………… We must FREE THEM ALL>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


  5. R.T. don’t be so modest. You’re an important voice for the horses and you have to know the BLM has people subscribed to this blog from all their offices. You had a post just a few days back about this…they read it…and decided to respond.

    I think one major breakthrough here is they admit to the animals being ‘stressed’. Over the years we’ve learned the enormous impact that stress plays on health. Of course they try to pass off the comment…

    “While stress can be a contributing factor, the fact is these horses have been residing in the corrals since they were gathered in early November. There is no correlation between that gather and their current condition.”

    Notice how they end the statement with an absolute denial when in fact they cannot say that for sure. Other horses in the area may have caught it from them…not necessarily the other way round.

    I am confused about the timeline though. They say the facility has been closed since October while the horses were being evaluated, then they say these infected horses have been there since November…can anyone shed any light on this?


    • “…enormous impact of stress…”

      Well, until you get an independent observer BLM, you are not qualified to say squat about anything. Yes, you hold the power of the purse (actually, that is Congress…but you got bucks or would that be buckskins?) and Executive decisions/non-decisions (apathetic Obama) by virtue of the monetary special interests you have chosen to serve (have been serving, NOT citizens collectively) since the Act was passed.

      Think I’m wrong, killers?

      How many HMAs did you reduce? How many wild equines are in holding? How many are dead?

      Never mind….you (BLM) said for yourselves you don’t count cows and sheep. And your counting of wild equines is like the housing bubble and Wall Street greed.


  6. This is good R.T. Communication starts with the effort and a goal to achieve understanding for the good.

    Keep the faith is right … and keep talking. Thank you too Deb!


  7. Plan to attend the Wyoming RAC meeting next week in Rock Springs. There will be a discussion, with the Rock Springs Grazing Assoc. in great attendance, I’m sure, regarding the “checkerboard lands.” Last year, the RSGA sued the BLM (at the BLM’s urging) to remove ALL horses from these lands and sterilize the bulk of the rest in WY. This would be the destruction of the bulk of Wyoming wild horse herds (2nd only to Nevada in numbers at present.) This discussion is 3pm, Wed. afternoon, and public comment period is on Friday morning, 8 am.


    • Thanks Linda H! I hope the Cloud Foundation and the local wild horse guardians from NW CO will be there. Would you see if someone would write us a report for RT’s blog so we have a good idea what went on? We need the news and to know what the atmosphere was. Thanks. mar


  8. The pictures! They came right up to the photographer and said “Let us go !”. All the “causes” sites are full of “free the bears, free the elephants”–well I sign their petitions,too—but look at all those captive horses –while the uncounted cattle/sheep eat up their rightful ranges! They sure look “depressed/confused ” to me–my evaluation is as good as BLMs. Thanks for posting–I guess polite correspondence is better than none–at least it isn’t a death count. Put the cattle in corrals. Free the Horses.


  9. I haven’t been regularly following or posting on SFTHH, but I went to check on one of wild equines’ most learned legal journalist, Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic. I am not sure RT put this up and there are many advocates posting there already, please take some time to comment, if you haven’t:

    If this is old news, I apologize.

    I am concerned that the press dis’ DOI (not important) and there is no conversation (save for one article I have read) on an ethical, public lands expert to take Slaughterczar’s position.

    I know most want Grijalva, but we need some back up names…..I was thinking the Kennedy that does the American Rivers Conservation….any others anyone can think off?


  10. Strangles is not naturally occuring in wild comes from overcrowding in small areas, like all animals pigs chickens cattle that are being held for slaughter, they are consantly doused with antibiotics.It is inherant, and strangles remains in the soil and on the fences awaiting the arrival of new can sterilize the metal chutes but not the rest…the foals who are undergoing weaning are at the greatest risk because of the domestic horses they are exposed to many things they build up antibodies to, mares pass that to their foals in the colostrum..wild horses live in a open environment and do not come in contact with anything other than ranchers cows and sheep, those cows and sheep have brought disease to deer elk and bison, chronic wasting disease..which is very simular to mad should not eat nor butcher any animal that exhibits those symptoms..It appears to be radiating out from Colorado to other states..Any number of viral diseases will sweep like wildfire thru the hundreds of unprotected horses in those crowded pens

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I would also like to point out that the younger smaller horses cannot raise their heads above the clouds of dust in those pens and breathe that dirt into their lungs further setting them up for lung damage and pnuemonia,,add to roundup stress, weaning stress, crowded facilities, the screams of horses terrorizing other horses. the metal clanging, standing in mud, unprotected from all weather conditions, mares giving birth in those populations, stallions being gelded and going into that filth to lay down….and you have a situation..where anywhere outside the federal would be shut down and go to jail period

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sandra:

      To all your posts….agreed, but you see we are horse people or decent humans….the killers are not either. Reminds me of what the US did to Native Americans (reservations, disease, broken treaties). And I am not blithely throwing that similarity around.


    • Sandra, why can’t the people responsible for taking care of these horses now that they are penned up figure out the same thing you have put out here. Aren’t they suppose to be educated enough to do these jobs? Oh wait, they are part of the BLM mill aren’t they?


    • Many of these young ones have been recently gelded also. So they have been through it all. And they may have caught this or developed it. They are vulnerable. And those not adopted will begin the worst journeys of their lives to find an adopter. At this point in time I have to wonder why they are going to send them on when there is not enough preparation given them for the optimal chance for a successful adoption? Even nearby Mantle Ranch, who do prepare chosen individuals, have a hard time getting all of their gentled and started mustangs adopted. This system is in collapse and it limps along. Everything should just stop now. Go into a holding pattern and all parties encouraged to come forward with the intention of change and preservation and an end to the abuses of a fine law that has been ignored and misused and misinterpreted. Begin with words before actions. But Stop it all now. Get to the words next. Or else the fight will continue and it will get nastier for sure. The public has only been ignorant. BLM has held all the cards and we know the deck was stacked even while Annie had her office at BLM.

      We won’t stop, BLM. But we will stop you one of these days. And we have a recovery to do, even now. Stop the criminal activity against our wild horses, BLM. BLM DC, you hear?


    • Dear Sandra, I also agree with all your posts, I went to work just got home the entire day thought about the little weanling who looked to me like a Buckskin and those all telling eyes of his, could not get him out of my mind, he has so much to say about his journey with the BLM, can look at him and he doesnt have to say a word, and I know of his tortures there ………………… The little guy needs his freedom , he needs to be just like all the others there free…..He must be the spokesman for these youngsters…………………. I know I will dream of him tonite , …………………


  12. I certainly hope they are treating these horses for strangles. and immunizing all others that are coming in . I have dealt with this threw a rescue and it is deadly if not treated right away. The pathetic thing is these horses have not protection from the weather and the fever they get with strangles will kill them being out with no protection from the weather. I just know that they don’t have what is needed to treat and heal these horses and it sickens me to think of the suffering they are going threw. We have the right to see that they are being cared for and treated and protected.


  13. BLM has lost all control of the situation.. from every angle…and every situation..the hole is deep enough to swallow all of us..stop digging..only roundup the amount you were able to adopt out last year in any area. Thats just plain ole logic, lets hope someone in the chain catches that disease


  14. I’m very glad the horses are alright and I hope the facility is “clean” of the germ for all involved and for the horses sake. I appreciate the Public Affairs Specialist getting in touch with you and making this announcement that more healthy horses will available for adoption in March. I see cute photos of horses begging for adoption every day . Perhaps we can take a moment in our new communication to consider the haunting question, isn’t it time to stop the madness yet? Perhaps the eyes in the photo are asking “Why are you ripping me away from peace and my natural family to send me to what is obviously a gridlock of horses waiting to be adopted by the American public?” This economy is still struggling and horses are being turned into rescues at alarming rates! Why continue to create a base of horses needing adoption when all day long the rescues are posting NEW photos of a skeleton horse or three needing rescue from the public? The rescues are full of healed and ready to adopt horses. The rescue / trainers are working their b_tts off with the untrained to present an adoptable horse. The reality right now is, more often than not – ANY horse awaiting a forever family is lucky to get an “oh isn’t he cute, wish I could take him home” comment… and then the rescues have to plead for a sponsor just to feed him! The majority of the horses are ending up stuck at the volunteers place!! These horses are LUCKY to get a sponsor including the mustangs! This is the reality!
    Somehow we’ve got to get working together as a whole for the whole equine picture!
    I hope this new communication is an actual birth pang of a step in the direction of a true open communication with the equine advocates. Surely, we can do better to the horse than what is. No more gridlock, no more slaughter. We can figure this out! I have faith in the fact that we can do better than this… because…
    there is a HUGE network of equine experts RIGHT HERE, waiting to work together on behalf of the HORSE! I maintain a hope that ALL continue to come together with their life preserving solutions for our equine friends. Thank you so much WHFF and everyone else, this network of humans helping horses is so vast, I learn of many more each day. #HOPE


    • Yep, you are so right here, JGGRAMA. We can make change and we have to begin without all the players because they are not dealing square with any of us in the public. Yet. Will they ever?
      The impatience and frustration we all feel is not going to make us back off.


    • High Country News Interview;
      BLM’s Nemesis, Jon MArvel, WWP;
      HCN: What about the land-management agencies and the politicians who support ranching?

      J.M.: The agencies are compromised by ranching culture. A new biologist may want to do good honest science (showing ranching’s impacts), but they are quickly informed to get in line: “Don’t bother us with information about plants,” they are told. “That’s not what we’re doing here.”

      (Agencies and politicians) have all bought into the mythology that sprang from the media and popular entertainers like John Wayne and shows like Bonanza. (Even though) we have moved a long way from the cowboy myth – you’re more likely to see cowboy clothing in a gay bar than on a street in a modern Western town, politicians like (Interior Secretary) Ken Salazar, (Utah Sen.) Orrin Hatch, (Utah Gov.) Gary Herbert, and (Wyoming Sen.) John Barrasso continue to believe fundamentally that the West is to be exploited.

      HCN: You’ve long called it “welfare ranching,” right?

      J.M.: There are 800,000 livestock producers in the U.S., but just 21,000 get to use the public lands — 2.5 percent. They have clout and privilege far beyond their numbers and they use it to maintain this house of cards. Over 60 percent of the grazing permittees on public lands are absentee owners. The old idea of mom-and-pop ranchers who use their blowtorch to burn the spines of prickly pear cactus so their cattle have something to eat is gone. Very rich people are buying ranches for the views, the landscape.

      HCN: A few years ago, you helped put together a giant coffee-table book called Welfare Ranchers: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West. Did it help your cause?

      J.M.: We had hoped that the book would have an impact like the early Sierra Club books (put together by David Brower) but it has had no impact on public policy, largely because the major conservation groups won’t take the issue on.

      HCN: Can you point to any victories?

      J.M.: Our biggest victory was during the second term of the Bush administration when we stopped its attempt to rewrite the Babbitt/Clinton grazing regulations. We challenged them in federal court, and it went all the way to the Supreme Court, where we won.

      We’ve also been successful with the greater sage grouse. Western Watersheds initially pursued the listing of the species under the Endangered Species Act. Thanks to our challenges, the BLM is now readying 68 management plans in eight Western states, and the Forest Service is amending dozens of forest plans to provide more protection for the sage grouse. Everyone is scrambling to show they have concern for the sage grouse in an attempt to avoid a listing. Our little group is one of the major reasons the crisis is here — and it’s a good thing.

      HCN: So you’re a specialist in crisis development?

      J.M.: When I first started working on this in the 1980s I did an I Ching reading about my desire to contest livestock grazing on public lands. My hexagram read “Major obstacles” and suggested that I seek alternative ways to reach my goal because there would be so much resistance. Of course I didn’t do this. I think that unless you speak out about the problems, they will get swept under the rug.

      HCN: In our 1999 story about you, Idaho rancher and now Lieutenant Gov. Brad Little gave you a sort of backhanded compliment, saying your efforts might have forced ranchers to be better stewards and document those efforts, in case you sued them.

      J.M.: Fear is not the best motivator, but if ranchers are afraid of me, and then they go out and do better by the land, then I say, “Whatever it takes.”

      HCN: Do you still envision a future where there is no public-lands grazing?

      J.M.: If the laws and regs on the books were implemented, and if grazing fees reflected market value, this problem would take care of itself in a matter of months. But in 20 years, there will be a lot less grazing on public lands, not because of concern for water, air or wildlife, but because of economics. The rich ranch owners will want a few decorative cows on the landscape, but nobody will want to be involved in the business. Ranchers are getting old, sick or divorced, and their kids have no interest in continuing on — they’ve moved to Fort Collins or Boise. It’s going to go away, we’re just trying to accelerate it.

      Continue Reading


    • This is Part One of HCN interview with Jon Marvel, please read!!

      NEWS – January 09, 2013
      By Paul Larmer
      In September, the Western Watersheds Project announced that it was seeking a successor to Jon Marvel, its founder and executive director. Marvel, who lives in Hailey, Idaho, began his campaign to end public lands grazing back in the early 1990s, following a dispute with a neighboring rancher whose cattle bedded down on Marvel’s property and munched on his grass. This inspired Marvel, an architect, to start the Idaho Watersheds Project.

      His group made headlines in 1996 when it successfully bid on state grazing leases with the intent of removing cows from the range once it controlled the leases. Marvel’s goal, both then and now, was to puncture what he sees as the unholy alliance between ranchers and public-lands agencies, which, he says, has caused the ecological degradation of most of the West through excessive livestock grazing. High Country News covered his bare-knuckled crusade in an in-depth cover story in 1999. HCN Publisher Paul Larmer recently caught up with the 65-year-old activist via phone.

      HCN: You’ve been known for your blunt statements and willingness to confront ranchers. Do you like any ranchers?

      J.M.: I’ve met many interesting ranchers who are congenial. I talked to two just within the last couple of weeks. Every year, I go and ask this one rancher on the Middle Fork of the Salmon if he’s ready for a buyout. His grazing allotments are in an area that was burned by wildfire this summer; he’s had wolves eat his sheep; his guard dogs have bitten bicyclists; his land values are at an all-time low. I say, “Isn’t it time that we made a deal?” And he’ll say: “Oh, I didn’t get into this business to make money.” He’s quite funny. I don’t have a problem with ranchers who don’t have a chip on their shoulder.

      HCN: You are accused of having a chip or two on your shoulder. Have you always felt righteous indignation toward those in power?

      J.M.: Yes, it’s been a problem for me.

      HCN: So why are you stepping down as the director of the Western Watersheds Project? Have the range wars been won?

      J.M.: First, we haven’t found anyone yet to take my job, so I’m continuing for now. But it’s my choice, really — to reduce my time and the administrative aspects of the job. The board would like to bring in some youth, and that’s a good idea. I’ll continue on as an advisor.

      My strongest wish is for the larger conservation organizations to take up the public-lands grazing issue. The Nature Conservancy, for example, has never said a bad word about ranching. In fact, they say that ranching is a solution to restoring the land. Other groups have dabbled in it, too, but always backed off.

      HCN: Why have they backed off?

      J.M.: Groups like the Sierra Club and NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) fall away when they encounter the difficulty of changing the system. Foundations (that fund environmental groups) reinforce this approach. The Pew Charitable Trust is highly focused on polling. They try to control what language you use, how you frame the issue. If you do a focus group on mining and ask people what they think, 90 percent will say it’s a disaster. Do the same with grazing, and the results are the opposite; 80 percent are positive — “We love ranchers; they are part of our heritage.” So (despite grazing’s big impact on land health, groups like Pew that fund environmental nonprofits) listen to what focus groups tell them. They have focused so much on wilderness designation, trying to get ranchers on board. “Hey, we’ll pass legislation that makes life easier for you, Mr. Rancher, because the environmentalists won’t bother you if the land is designated wilderness.”

      HCN: Have your views about ranching and the damage caused by livestock grazing changed over time?

      J.M.: Not much. Ranching culture is a violent culture. The killing of 90,000 coyotes by federal wildlife service agents, the killing of wolves and prairie dogs — that’s all about ranching. It is also a secretive culture. Ranchers who want to take buyouts from environmentalists are afraid of being socially ostracized by their peers. It’s remarkable that so many conservative ranchers won’t respect an individual rancher’s decision to sell off their grazing permit and retire it. People who hate the government, but depend on it, are mentally ill.

      Continue Reading
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  15. Such wonderful faces. This is what hurts so much; they are not free. I know, if given the gentling and early training they need from natural horse training they have the chance to to be adopted and loved. but will they? The three strikes system looms before them. We are not in control of any of this. I know in my heart that many will live and dye in terrible ways. Such is the association with humans. Someday I want the odds to change in favor of these wonderful horses. They deserve to live safe lives whether free or captive. We have to do more.

    Such wonderful faces.I wish I could take them all.


  16. They know you are watching them and that you are backed up by many wild horse loving Americans. I do believe WE the people can stop the roundups if we keep the pressure on. I pray for this everyday. I also pray for all the people like you on the front lines doing the hard jobs. God Bless you and Thank you!


  17. Wild Horses: The Stresses of Captivity by Bruce Nock PhD

    Click to access bruce-nock.pdf

    Here is an excerpt from the Introduction:
    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.


  18. Our Wild Horses and Burros MUST have their land returned. They should NEVER have been captured and removed from their Legal Herd Areas/Herd Management Areas. They belong BACK ON THE RANGE.
    This article was published in 2010. How much more land has been taken since then?
    The 1971 Act preserves wild horses and burros in over 300 areas of publicly owned rangeland in the west, forbidding their exploitation, harassment and removal. Regardless, only 30 million acres remain of the 54 million acres designated primarily for wild horse use in 1971. Over 100 herds have been completely removed by the BLM and most remaining herds are too small to insure their long-term survival. The BLM’s current policy of eradicating these herds is a betrayal of the wishes of the American public.


  19. Cows ate BLM’s homework; say they cannot track cattle on public lands
    by VGFarrell

    SOURCE: PEER NEWS RELEASE Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility BLM SAYS IT CANNOT TRACK CATTLE ON ITS LANDS Blames Lack of “Seamless Data” for Excluding Livestock from Range Assessments Washington, DC (Jan. 24, 2013) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) says it was an absence of “reliable data”—and not politics—that caused it to […]

    Read more of this post


  20. More and more horses will get strangles being confined in pens that horses previously ihfected with strangles were kept. Strangles is distemper. Plaln and simple. And once the infected horses wipe their snotty noses on the corral pens, and hack up blobs of mucus onto the ground, it stays in the ground for over seven years. This could end up being pandemic very quickly.


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