Equine Rescue

One View: BLM Gets One Right on Horses

Source: written by Ginger Casey as published in RGJ.com

Ginger Casey is an Emmy-award winning journalist and writer who began her 23-year television career at KTVN in Reno.

My first job in television news was in Reno. The searing sun and blistering temperatures could be relentless. We routinely warned people to be careful in high heat and to take precautions for both themselves and their pets.

Twenty miles north of Reno is the federal government’s Palomino Valley National Adoption Center, where nearly 2,000 wild horses and burros are warehoused in large, open pens under blazing sun. True, horses and burros are acclimated to the desert sun in the wild, where they can find relief from the heat by heading to higher ground or by finding shade under bushes or trees. But at the Palomino Valley facility, there is no shelter of any kind for the horses and burros, no relief from triple-digit temperatures. The horses and their foals stand around on bare dirt under scorching sun with no shade of any kind. The irony is that in order to adopt one of the animals, you have to prove you have shelter from the elements available for them.

Several weeks ago, when temperatures began to top 100 degrees in Nevada, horse advocates nationwide began petitioning the Bureau of Land Management to do something about the conditions at Palomino Valley. Lester Friedlander, a former USDA veterinarian, was concerned enough to write on behalf of the horses and burros, saying conditions at the Palomino Valley facility were calling for “emergency action” to ensure the safety of the animals. He wrote that if the horses and burros were not properly protected from the heat and sun, “countless numbers will be lost to disease, infections and heat-related deaths.”

The BLM has taken a lot of flak for its handling of its wild horse and burro program. But on this one at least, the BLM seems to be getting it right. Citing the temperatures and the public’s concern, the agency announced late last month it was going to start installing sprinklers for the horses at the Palomino Valley facility. Hopefully, it is not a publicity ploy to deflect mounting public ire.

Half of the nation’s wild horses and burros live in Nevada. Despite being protected by the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, the issues surrounding their management are complex and further complicated by politics and priorities. But rather than list what the BLM is doing wrong, I want to thank them for doing what is right by recognizing that once they take horses and burros out of their native habitat, they are no longer wild animals, but warehoused ones, and as such need to be cared for responsibly and humanely.

Sprinklers are a start, but not a full solution. The animals desperately need shade as well, and hopefully, it will follow. I hope this action is also the start of an overdue dialog between the BLM and the public on the best way to manage America’s wild horses and burros. Love them or hate them, our stewardship over these iconic animals calls us to be both compassionate and merciful.

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43 replies »

  1. Hello, I was wondering if you shipped the book to Canada as I can’t click on the site for a contact. What I want to know also is how much is the shipping to Ontario Canada. postal code is L4L2A8.Thank you, D.Partridge

    Date: Mon, 8 Jul 2013 11:18:38 +0000 To: dapartridge@sympatico.ca

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  2. For all intense and purposes this conversation should not even be the horrible issue it is……………If the BLM would have left our Mustangs alone and just helped them in times of need such as water and food .They choose to forget the great importance and the extremely important role these magnificent Mustangs play in the Grand Scheme of life itself !!!!!!! they are Treasures and icons , an important asset to all….. What they did and are doing is completely upsetting all life /…… I would say forgive them for they know not what they are doing, but this is all way past forgiving !!!!!! This is a HORROR beyond conscience !!!! The BLM needs to Put the Mustangs Back where they belong on the Range !!!!!!!! and stop this insanity immediately before it is to LATE !!!!!!!! Science has proven this to be TRUE !!!!!!!!They have infuriated Natures Plan !!!!!! PUT OUR BEAUTIES BACK NOW !!!!!!!!!!

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    • I strongly agree with you!! They need to return them to nature on the lands that are rightfully allotted to them! They should be managed, not imprisoned to cook and waste away in the heat of the desert! This is pure cruelty! In nature, the horses know where to go to stay cool, find water, and forage! And the cattle ranchers are rich enough! Let them go purchase their own land for grazing their cattle! When is this government going to show some common sense and do what is right for once?

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      • This has been the biggest problem.. Many real ranchers do have their own land. This is wannabe’s that never could afford it and abuse the system, now demanding more of the land for the cattle and sheep.

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    • I couldn’t have said it any better, Alene. The horror of it all is absolutely unnecessary, when they could have left them alone to begin with!

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  3. Thanks Ginger for the nice article describing the issues. DO NOT agree with giving the BLM any credit for doing anything as it’s hardly an earned nod as yet. This agency is guilty of much wrong doing and it will take equally as much good to right all of the horrendous mismanagement of Americas wild horses and burros.

    Return the wild ones to THEIR own land ! Stick the excess cattle and sheep in those pens. Now that’s an action that would deserve a nod to the BLM as something they finally got right.

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    • This practice continues and this entire region California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and more,will be a stake for non stop wild fires and an eco system you cannot remedy without the Mustangs.
      The excess cattle and sheep are killing our balance and eco system………
      Great Job Morons!!

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  4. I am so sick and tired of this pathetic organization called the “BLM”. Bullsh@t Land Management..
    They seriously do not care about our Mustangs and will only do the minimal for them based on public outcry. They want our Mustangs to die off in these facilities!@!@@!
    Sally Jewell and President Obama would you please fire this organization? Please strategize an entirely different group of experienced people who not only need a job, but would fill these shoes with pleasure.
    Our Mustangs need to be released in the Wild not shaded up as domesticated horses.
    Our planet needs them on the ranges to balance out the now screwed up eco system about to get worse and further wild fires, while their manure helps the range with needed moisture and feeds other critters for the eco system…..This is missing and is adding to drought conditions with out them in these areas.
    Thank you “Craig Downer” for your wealth of information in your book the “Mustang Conspiracy”.

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  5. Thank you Ginger for this information.
    Great info about our Mustangs that can find their own shade in the wild and manage by hanging in areas that protect them from the sun….

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  6. I think this reporter is not well informed and gives the Bureau a pass when it does not deserve one. There may be a few individuals in the agency with a bit of heart, but the bulk of the bureaucracy treats the horses as impediments to the empire of cow, resource extraction and fossil fuels development.

    Sorry, Ginger, you wrote—

    ” …. rather than list what the BLM is doing wrong, I want to thank them for doing what is right by recognizing that once they take horses and burros out of their native habitat, they are no longer wild animals, but warehoused ones, and as such need to be cared for responsibly and humanely.”

    This comment ignores the FACTS as you yourself just stated in your piece. The BLM “recognized” NOTHING—they were pushed to react to outrage and bad PR, which has always been their sore point. They have had horses in this gulag for years, and did nothing. They abhor bad publicity, and the only thing that will make them change any part of their “management” is widespread condemnation of their cruelty. To help you understand the many issues the BLM obstinately continues doing, please see the recently released National Academy of Sciences review of the Wild Horse and Burro “program” that sucks up $60 million dollars a year on stampedes and squalid warehouse stockyards. Please get educated about this issue by reading the report which excoriates the BLM operations as “wasteful, expensive, and not scientifically based”. Find out how the Bureau bullied the Academy to exclude accounting for the impact of 6 million privately owned cows and sheep grazing on the same lands where wild horses are outnumbered by 10 to 1. Does this seem logical to you?

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  7. Yep. They took them away from their ability to help themselves and put them in the desert, locked them up and left them to die.

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  8. Wild Horses are effective at eliminating cheat grass and other flammable grasses than any other ruminant grazers, reducing the fire load.

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    • Dear Robyn, on all 3 counts you are so right , please everyone these magnificent mustangs are dropping from the heat , Please get on the phone make phone calls to the BLM and the whitehouse we must cool down the Mustangs immediately !!!!!!!!!

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  9. Citizen investigation reveals wild horses are sick and dying at national adoption center without shade

    http://protectmustangs.org/

    RENO,Nv (July 8 2013)–Protect Mustangs is releasing a preliminary video report of captive wild horses denied shade in the recent triple-digit heat wave. Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs, America’s indigenous horse conservation group, has been leading a nationwide outreach campaign (#Shade4Mustangs) on Facebook and Twitter to bring shade to captive wild horses and burros at Palomino Valley Center outside Reno, and elsewhere. Last week’s heat wave broke records. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) refused to install shade despite Novak and Manendo’s requests, outcry from the public and other groups. Protect Mustangs conducted a field investigation during the heat wave with the help of Reno photographer Taylor James, Jim Hart the President of Liberty for Horses and Dennis Walker. The video report calls for the new Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell, to have compassion and bring emergency shade because captive mustangs are sick and dying. In the wild they can migrate to shade and cooler zones. Trapped in pens it’s cruel to deny them access to shade and shelter.
    “The BLM’s historic disregard for America’s wild horses is a global embarrassment,” states Anne Novak. “We hope the new Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, will intervene to bring them shade and call for a moratorium on roundups for population studies, based on science of course. They’re underpopulated on the range now. That’s why they are breeding at a higher rate–to prevent extinction.”
    The heat wave investigation found horses without shade who appear to have respiratory illness, as well as ones who have other illneses and diseases. They are exhausted from repeated exposure to triple-digit temperatures, sore, stiff, probably lame foals, lactating mares, and young wild horses who also appear dehydrated, obese horses, hot sweaty horses and hot horses not sweating, young horses not wanting to get up and eat, who are ill or dying as well as a dead filly the group named “Shadow”.
    When the summer heat started to rise on June 9th Anne Novak & Senator Manendo officially called for shade for more than 1,800 captive wild horses at Palomino Valley Center, the largest short-term federal holding facility in America.
    Novak uses Facebook & Twitter to reach thousands of people through her widespread outreach. Celebrities such as Daryl Hannah, and Holly Marie Combs graciously shared out Novak’s calls for shade.
    On June 24, 2013, esteemed Dr. Lester Friedlander BA DVM called for an emergency action to bring shelter to the wild horses and burros.
    Novak continued to contact elected officials, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) personnel and the newly appointed Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, requesting shade to prevent deaths from the upcoming heat wave. To this date she has not heard back from Secretary Jewell.
    No shade was provided in triple-digit heat–only a handful of ineffective sprinklers for “mitigation”. Neither Protect Mustangs nor Dr. Friedlander suggested using sprinklers. They requested shade and shelter.
    Dr. Friedlander DVM and Anne Novak warned the Bureau of Land Management that the wild horses would suffer disease, infections and heat related deaths without shelter from the heat.
    Protect Mustangs has been working with Dr. Lester Friedlander BA, DVM, photographer Taylor James, Jim Hart, President of Liberty for Horses, Dennis Walker and other advocates to document the fiasco during the record-breaking heat wave and advocate for change–shelters for wild horses and burros in holding facilities.
    Despite the BLM’s ‘sprinkler mitigation’ PR campaign, the Protect Mustangs’ investigation found sick, sore, horses as well as a dead filly hours before the BLM facility official, Jeb Beck, gave Fox News an interview about the ‘sprinklers’.
    In his July 2nd Fox News interview Beck says: “We’ve never experienced any problems with the heat and whatnot,” says Beck. “Because of the publicity it’s getting, we wanted to make a proactive step and try suggestions that were brought to us.” – (See more at:http://www.foxreno.com/news/news/local/wild-horses-trying-beat-heat/nYcsD/#sthash.xNDnlcmV.dpuf)
    “We witnessed several young wild horses who would not get up,” says Jim Hart, President of Liberty for Horses. “They were just lying there. The heat wave seemed to have taken its toll on them. Then we found ‘Shadow’ who had died. The horses in the pen were coming over as if to say good-bye. When we came back to the pen later Shadow’s body had disappeared.”
    Eye witnesses have documented the following during the heat wave:

    1.) Triple-digit temperatures
    2.) No shade and no relief from the record-breaking heat
    3.) No shelter from the strong winds and dust storms
    4.) One or No sprinklers seen (depending on the day)
    5.) Wild horses stayed away from the sprinkler.
    6.) Lactating mares and foals appeared depressed, sore and dehydrated
    7..) Horses with bad hoof care
    8.) A lot of depressed horses and possibly ill horses
    9.) Horses missing their tags
    10.) Horses with respiratory illness
    11.) Obese horses
    12.) Yearlings and other horses who were lying down, breathing hard and not getting up to eat.
    12.) Most of them had severe gas
    13.) A dead bay filly named SHADOW in the pens
    14.) The dead filly named SHADOW “disappeared” when they came back to the pen
    The public wants to know “How many had died? And why is the BLM hiding the deaths?”
    Novak has requested the mortality count during the heat wave since June 27 and wants to know the number of sick horses also. Witnesses Hart & Walker asked to view the sick pens but were denied permission to view from a distance.
    Palomino Valley Center doesn’t keep track of the dead unbranded foals according to Heather Emmons Jasinki, Public Affairs Officer for the Bureau of Land Management.
    “We are requesting immediate transparency and accountability for the mortality rates at all facilities as well as shade and shelter for the captive wild horses and burros,” states Novak. “These wild horses should be living with their families in freedom on the range not enduring cruelty in a government holding pen. Is it time for another agency–without a conflict of interest–to manage America’s native wild horses and burros?”
    Less than 18,000 native wild horses and burros are estimated to be living in freedom in all ten western states combined. Today more than 50,000 are stockpiled in government funded holding–at risk of disappearing into the slaughter pipeline. Horse advocates want to see them returned to the range.
    The National Academy of Sciences has stated there is no accurate population count. Protect Mustangs, AANHCP and other horse advocate groups know that when a scientific population study is done, the numbers will be very low.
    The BLM’s population numbers have been inflated by BLM to justify costly roundups and removals for the public land grab and industrialization.
    “The BLM requires adopters to provide ‘access to shelter’ so why aren’t they doing the same?” asks Dennis Walker from Northern California. “It was horrible to see these horses surfing with no shade.”
    “They are all so sweet and young,” says James. “I’ve been visiting them sometimes twice a day, to check on them. They would be flaring their nostrils and after the first day they didn’t sweat as much. I was worried. After a few days some would not eat but clearly were weak and dehydrated. They should have never been removed from the range, It’s not fair that Shadow died because the BLM didn’t want to give them shade while they sit in their air conditioned offices, drinking their fresh, cold water.”

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    • I watched part of this enough that is just ANGERS me beyond belief!!!!
      Sally Jewell, and President Obama seem to be in this together with the BLM.
      Otherwise why is nobody reacting or doing anything for them???
      Why hasn’t DOI or the President responded as in Emergency situation??? WTF?????? They do not care!!! This is part of the plan!!
      They are wanting them to die off to be rid of the problem Period!!

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      • I think were all on the right track…The BLM, DOI and the President are hoping for death to the Mustangs!!! It’s gone on for too long and nobody’s listening….
        It’s the master plan………….

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  10. These horses has been here before us just leave them be.Lets get new congress ones that respect the way of the land not how big you can make your pockets bigger.Lets miss this great country and land up more way to go congress enjoy your flipping steak and your fancy wine why are great creatures suffers

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  11. R.T. sorry for not staying on this written topic BUT I just called the White House again and the woman told me they have a special category for horse slaughter comments now because they have been getting so many calls, KEEP CALLING 202-456-1111, WE CAN BEAT this!

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    • I just saw your similar plea — on Habitat for Horses blog — to keep calling 202-456-1111. There, I asked you to please post it here, too. I see you have. Thanks, Debbie.

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  12. It is so hard to try bare this for the Mustangs , i can feel their anguish and their pain, I feel their heavy breathes and Hard as we try we cannot seem to get through to these Morons !!!!!! If only we could go to them and free them from this horror beyond words !!!!!!!!

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  13. Obviously, the BLM knows exactly what it is doing…& NOT doing. Anyone knows this heat is *deadly to humans & animals without cooling…shade. The sprinklers are a token, “let’s throw this in” to keep the &^# advocates quiet. The water must be pretty warm sprinkled out during the day, as is the drinking water! Just like the BLM new would happen, the horses are dying. Dropping dead, & how many will need to be “euthanized” due to heat related illness, disease? Pretty convenient for the BLM. This is what the BLM wants. As is known, the BLM wants *dead wild horses. I always keep in mind the “Secret Documents,” obtained via FOIA, June 2009, to secretly destroy the wild horses in holding. And killing is discussed under-the-radar at their Advisory Board Meetings. And shipped to slaughter. THe BLM’s excuses for no shade are inhumane…deadly… but enough to cover the BLM’s a** as the horses suffer horribly & die. BLM “reasoning”: Good nutrition protects against heat/cold; open area is dry & sunlight protects against disease; no shade shelters as wild horses are unfamiliar with & chaos could ensue……… The BLM is more than corrupt…hideous Evil. http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/info/newsroom/2013/june/palomino_valley_wild_html

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      • Thank you Arlene, I was thinking of more adjectives…but was so terribly sickened, enraged…my mind & body was filled with fire. And I usually can handle stuff w/o such a visceral reaction. This is one of the horrendous cruelties of extreme torture & slow, agonizing death. And done by our government with the world watching, knowing, unable to physically go in there & help. But oh yes, “insane” is a word I often use describing the BLM…& all who are in hand-in-hand with them.

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    • Pretty outrageous isn’t it?……….A friend of mine told me she’s been having premonitions they are secretly being shipped off in small numbers to slaughter without the advocates knowing it????

      Hideous EVIL is the BLM………………….

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  14. Thanking the BLM?????? Isn’t that like paying the headsman to do a quick, clean slice when chopping off your head when you have been unjustly condemned to death?

    Yikes! It has gotten that bad in an already HORRIFIC situation that we “thank” the BLM?

    GOOD GOD, save us. For those that don’t believe in GOD/god…..bear with me.

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  15. you have got to be kidding me with this article from Ginger Snyder. I was there yesterday July 7 2013 and took tons of pictures of a foal with its ribs and hip bones showing. Horses clearly in distress. I sent the pictures to KTVN news in Reno. They will investigate. I have the pictures posted on my Facebook page and will send the pictures to every wild horse advocacy group nationally and locally that I can find. THERE WERE NO WATER SPRINKLERS. The facility is over populated and these horses are clearly suffering. I am appalled and extremely upset about this as I take pictures of wild horses in ther natural habitat. Nancy Leake

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  16. After watching this video, i have nothing left to say except that our government officials should be so ashamed of themselves! This video should be spread around the world so that everyone everywhere will know just how abusive the BLM is to these poor animals!! If we have to shame them into action, then maybe thats what it will take since they wont seem to listen to the people and do whats right and let these horses back onto their own lands!! What gives them the right to torture and abuse Gods creatures in such a horrible way? Those horses have every right to their land as the mountain lion, wild sheep, deer and other wildlife do!! Watching a whole bunch of horses die because of the cruelty of man, just kills me inside, especially when there is an easy answer to their plight! For Gods sake, at least get them some shelter from the hot sun!! That is the least they can do after all the damage they did to them by rounding them up instead of managing them through birth control methods! I sincerely hope that with this next election, people start seriously thinking about what kind of people they elect to run this country and not choose such heartless, self absorbed money grabbers that dont give a darn what the people want!

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    • Judith
      I agree with you,that is why I contacted John Potter at KTVN news in Reno. If more people make this known, maybe just maybe something wil be done. I suggest you email John Potter at http://www.ktvn.com
      He has contacted the facility at Palomino Valley with no response.As soon as he hears from them he will contact me for what I saw. I sent him the pictures I took on Sunday July 7th. Please go to my Facebook page Nancy Leake Reno Nevada. I have the pictures posted there of what I saw. I swear I have not slept in 3 days after seeing those beautiful animals literally baking in the sun. I would ask anyone reading these posts to contact the news here in Reno.
      Thank you everyone for caring about these horses.
      Nancy Leake

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