Horse News


Report Compiled by:
Jesica Johnston, Environmental Scientist
Lisa LeBlanc, Environmental Researcher
Kathy Gregg, Environmental Researcher
Photographs by Jesica Johnston


Wild Burros


Wild horses and burros are different from their domestic cousins. Wild equines have to continually learn and adapt to the constantly changing environment directed by nature. During their lifetimes they will see life and death and must learn from their elders and trust their instincts and knowledge of their wild world in order to survive.

Three experienced wildlife observers searched for three days for wild horses and burros and other wildlife in Northern California-Nevada Twin Peaks, Coppersmith and Buckhorn Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management Areas. These areas are managed for all American citizens by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and for the protection of our wild horses and burros. We traveled approximately 160 miles over 3 days and 13 hours in the herd management areas. We drove slowly with many stops; some off-road hiking and almost constant searching with binoculars for signs of wild horses and wild burros. After 3 days, a total of only 18 wild horses and 26 wild burros were observed on the three herd management areas. Of those, we saw 1 burro yearling and no horse foals or yearlings. All observed horses and burros appeared to be in excellent health. What was most obvious in our three day journey was the notable absence of wild horses and burros on their legally authorized herd areas on public land. A few of our wild horses and burros were found…but very few and far between.

During our survey there were times that only a short distance could be seen due to canyon walls but for the majority of the assessment a distance of more than a mile in all directions could be seen and often a distance of many miles were observable with binoculars. Even though time and mileage was documented and a map available, herd management area boundaries are vaguely marked, so some mileage and hours in the herd management areas are rounded or estimated in our report.

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21 replies »

  1. thank-you r.t. what a sad report / the saddest part of this report is that the b.l.m. knows what it is doing . under this regime of an almost police state any thing that we love is and has been destroyed under these people . what will happen after the elections ? will it be different for our wild horses and burros ? what will bring the wildlife that has been devastated by open hunts for the west’s predators ? will our wild one be left alone to recover after this election and will our representives be more open for dialogue to change what these people have done? hope against hope


  2. Is anyone surprised. Im not. The BLM is a rogue department of our government. They are not working for the betterment of the Wild horses or Burros, but for the greedy Welfare Ranchers and other companies seeking to drain the oil and other natural resources. I spent years in Washington DC lobbying for Union and rightful laws affecting workers. And I can truly say I have never seen the likes of the politics going on now. No one or nothing is or has been safe. I have heard people say that they are voting for the lesser of two evils. What a sad state of affairs! I don’t know what the answer is, but what I do know is the heat must remain on the BLM until something is done about them. There is a great deal in the power of the vote. However, the voice is even mightier when armed with documentation and stats. What ever became of the “Safe Act” which was supposed to have bipartisan support? More lies and rhetoric while they allow reckless spending by the BLM! It certainly must be stopped! I feel a great sadness in my heart when I think about the Burros and Wild horses and the unmentionable things that they have and are trying to do to them. Thank you RT and all the others who so diligently pursue the information, records and stats for us. Please keep up the great work you re doing. After my comments to HSUS, I wonder if they contacted you RT. Again, we must keep the faith and continue the fight!


  3. The question is – how to bring more heat on the BLM, and do so within legal bounds (unlike Cliven Bundy and the armed stand-off with the BLM last April).


  4. THANK YOU Kathy, Jesica and Lisa. You’ve all been there from the start and this has to be hard for you. You know what Twin Peaks Herd Management Area was BEFORE the BLM roundup in 2010.

    There is SO much to cover. Where do we start?

    This is just a portion of the article which was written by Debbie Coffey, prior to the BLM roundup in 2010.

    The BLM’s Snow Job About Water on the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area

    Debbie Coffey Copyright 2010

    When we were on the June 14, 2010 public tour of the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA), the BLM said the BIG REASON they had to round-up our wild horses was because there WASN’T ENOUGH WATER. They took us by a spring east of Observation Peak, which was fenced off because it was on PRIVATE PROPERTY. The BLM said this spring fed Smoke Creek, which went south of the area. Aside from the actual spring itself, most of the creek/water runs south on public lands through the Twin Peaks Wilderness Study Area to the Smoke Creek Resevoir. The BLM took us to a cow-poop laden riparian area, showed us what looked like a puddle of water and talked more about how there was hardly any water and how all the creeks dry up in the summer.

    When we asked who owned the spring/water at Smoke Creek, the BLM officials coughed up the last name of Jaksick, but none of them seemed to know Jaksick’s first name. That’s funny, because in 2008, the Eagle Lake Field Office was involved in a $6 million deal/partnership with Sam Jaksick.

    An article by the Land Trust Alliance stated “BLM and the Nevada Land Conservancy have been working with landowners since 2003 for federal acquisition of the land in order to protect a wide variety of resources on the property. This is the largest and most complex SNPLMA (Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act) acquisition done to date, with more than a hundred distinct parcels with appurtenant water rights across three BLM administrative areas – the Winnemucca field office in Nevada, and the Surprise and Eagle Lake Field offices in California. The parcels, all within Nevada, are scattered throughout the Granite Range north of Gerlach, and include portions of Buffalo Hills, Twin Peaks, and Poodle Mountain Wilderness Study areas, and range from high alpine meadows to sagebrush lowlands.”

    To give some background info on water in the area: In 2008, UC Davis geologist Graham Fogg, (in talking about the water around Cedarville and Surprise Valley, just north of Twin Peaks) stated that “95% of circulating water is underground. You can’t see it, but it’s there.”


  5. Heavy Cop Presence at Twin Peaks Keeps Contractor Hiding Place Off Limits
    by Steven Long

    Armed Law Enforcement Out Number 4 Credentialed Reporters at Wild Horse Stampede

    TWIN PEAKS, CA (Horseback) – A heavy, armed police presence protected America and the Federal Bureau of Land Management wild horse stampede contractor from four journalists and no anti-BLM activists at the “gather” held today at Twin Peaks, according to Horseback Magazine’s R.T. Fitch at the site. There were two reporters and a photographer representing the Texas based magazine, as well as a videographer working for the New York Times, a paper which was provided unfettered access earlier this week while other media organizations and citizen observers were kept at bay.

    “Why are we being kept away,” the Times photog asked, incredulous that she wasn’t given the same deferential treatment as her colleagues had been afforded earlier in the week before Horseback Online exposed BLM’s media favoritism and attempt spin its story to the powerful national paper.

    She was told the captured horses were being held on private land and the landowner had prohibited outsiders from coming on his property, the usual reason BLM has refused access to its trap sites


  6. New York Times was there:

    BLM’s Wild Horse Stampede Contractor Exposed as Deceptive
    September 8, 2010

    BLM’s David Cattoor Plots to Subvert First Amendment Rights, Again!

    Dave Cattoor, “I’m not going to give them the one shot that they want” ~ Photo by Jim Wilson/New York Times

    It was subtle, it was sweet and done with such professional flair that most people would have missed it on the first go around but a second viewing cements the words and causes the jaws to drop. Clare Major, of the New York Times, caught on video BLM Wild Horse Stampede contractor Dave Cattoor discussing with his company and BLM personnel the process of killing a horse, that his firm would injure, and how to hide it and dispose of it in such a manner that the public and press would not see it or become aware of the incident. How sweet is that?

    There’s background as to how badly the Cattoors wanted to manipulate the press and be on the “good side” of the Times. Three days earlier, at another trap location, the Cattoors and the BLM granted NYT reporter Jessie McKinley and photographer Jim Wilson unprecedented access inside the active trap area while holding other press and public observers at bay almost a mile away. When news of this discriminatory act was exposed by this reporter on “Straight from the Horse’s Heart” close access to the traps was then denied to all press and public.

    NYT filmmaker Clare Major was kept behind a jute fence halfway up a mountain with a horrible view of the illicit operations only 48 hours after her team mates were granted unfettered filming. Along with reps from HSUS and Horseback Magazine she suffered the ire of the Cattoors for being caught using deceptive practices only days earlier.Ms. Majors contacted her editor to request another day of shooting as nothing occurred during that filming attempt. She likewise made special arrangements with Sue Cattoor to be allowed down to the trap site for interviews prior to the arrival of the correspondents from Horseback Magazine, it was during that time that Dave Cattoor was caught showing his tried and true business model. The “them” that Cattoor was referring to was the team from Horseback, including this reporter. Dave Cattoor’s comments not only back up and verify the fact that his operations harm, maim and can ultimately kill wild horses but what is hidden in his words verifies that this is a practice and process that he has used against the free press and public in the past and it has worked. Cattoor said, “If something happens we are going to correct it quickly, just like we talked about. If it’s a broken leg, we’re going to put it down, slide it on the trailer, same thing, we are going to town with it. I’m not going to give them the one shot that they want


  7. Do follow the link to read the full story

    This One Stallion
    Original Story by SFTHH Investigative Reporter Lisa LeBlanc

    A tall, charcoal maned gray stallion living in Twin Peaks has, through no intentional actions on his part, accrued a small fan base.
    And in his small realm, he is undisputed Lord over all he surveys. In Wild Horse society, little credence is given to perceived perfection; he wooed and won many mares. His mares chose him for his competence as protector and provider, for his experience on the range and likely, for the hardiness & vigor sure to be handed down to his offspring.

    They lived in an area near Skedaddle/Shinn Ranch. Through changes made by unseen hands, they came to occupy a fenced allotment. In that mysterious manner of horses, he had, over time, become a familiar sight, respected, anticipated, even loved by those humans who had come to recognize him. Dubbed BraveHeart by an admirer (not to be confused with Silver King’s Braveheart), he and his family, their environment and resources, were observed and studied, season to season, by a researcher writing a thesis toward her Masters degree. Her hope is her studies will result in a more equitable division of resources for Wild Horses and management that will involve the application of scientific principals to Horse Management Areas rather than outdated policies and management practices. She became a familiar face at field offices and the holding facility, a logical progression in authoring a well-written thesis.

    But more subtly, the researcher was developing a heart-felt attachment to BraveHeart.

    The announcement of the Final Environmental Assessment for Twin Peaks came as a disappointment but not a surprise, particularly in a year where roundups could be characterized best as a firestorm.


  8. Thank you Jessica, Lisa and Kathy —- this is such sad and disturbing news – for all of us and the American people – just so sad – and thank you Louie for remembering Braveheart.


  9. Has there been any recent news about Braveheart – where he is – if he is? After three years – doesn’t it seem like there should have been a change in the way this bureaucracy (boy, could I have added some descriptive words to that) deals with the people who actually care about the wild horses & burros? Just feels as if no matter how hard everyone works at this & there are so many people who are putting themselves on the line – we aren’t making much of a dent! Thinking back to how Wild Horse Annie made a difference & got something done – I think the caliber of most politicians today is so disgusting! I know there are some good ones out there – but boy, do they have an uphill battle. As many of them that have co-sponsored the PAST Act – they still cant get that brought to the floor – and the SAFE Act? The whole attitude towards animals – any kind – seems to be they don’t matter – as if any other species is here for humans to use.


    • Maggie-
      Soon after that story was written and after months of phone calls and letters and broken promises by BLM, we discovered that BraveHeart was trucked to BLM’s Cassaday long-term holding facility in Kansas where he was reported to us as Dead On Arrival.
      (eulogy below)

      Wild Stallion of Twin Peaks – BraveHeart
      He died of a broken heart …
      We discovered today that our BraveHeart is dead.
      It is not how he died that matters, it is how he lived … this special stallion lived the true wild horse life. He was extremely dedicated to his family and he loved his world each and every day that he had on the range, being who he obviously was put on this world to be … a very, very special wild stallion. He will not be forgotten.


      • Thanks GG – I’m so sorry for all of you that really knew him. Its a damn shame that he’s just one of so many. But the bigger shame is the numnuts & bureaucrats that continue to allow this to happen.


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