by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation.
Copyright 2015. All Rights Reserved.
The BLM recently announced its new selections for the BLM National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board.
BLM’s new pick for the category of veterinary medicine is:
Julie M. Weikel, DVM
Julie Weikel (photo Oregon Natural Desert Association)
As written about in the article “Part 2: BLM and Fish & Wildlife Service Experimenting on Wild Horses”, Julie Weikel was asked by the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge Manager (Brian Day) to write an independent assessment of the roundups of the Sheldon horses in August, 2011. She observed only one day of the roundups on Aug. 15th, but also observed processing (RFID chips were inserted into the horses), the field spaying of mares and the field castration of geldings.
It is interesting that she wrote in her roundup observation “Provision had been made for witnessing of the gather by credentialed reporters. They were to be with me in a site designated for observers that would be safe and not interfere with the horses or equipment. No reporters took advantage of the opportunity, but four local people were present who apparently had gotten permission form the helicopter gather contractor to be at the site. They did not stay in the designated area during the gather and they left before the end of the gather that day.”
What? The contractor’s invited friends, who were not credentialed reporters and had an opportunity that members of the public did not have, did NOT stay in the designated area? Why weren’t they arrested? Members of the public are usually threatened with arrest if they do not stay in the designated area at roundups. And since the BLM’s excuse for putting people in the designated area is to keep them safe and not interfere with the horses, why was it okay with the BLM and the roundup contractor that these “select” people and wild horses weren’t safe?
Of the chemical vasectomies, Weikel wrote “The studs also received a tetanus toxoid injection which led to an unfortunate loss of one stud to anaphylaxis in spite of supportive measures.”
She also noted in her report that “Thirty two mares were spayed on Aug. 29th with no fatalities, and released on Aug. 31st.” And “The spaying of mares was observed by professional management and veterinary personnel from the BLM Palomino Valley facility.”
Weikel did not mention any concerns about the wild mares being released so soon after surgery, or that there was no follow up after their release in case there were any post-surgery infections or complications. And was the field spaying of mares observed by BLM’s John Neill and Palomino Valley (and Indian Lakes Road facility) vet Richard Sanford?
Weikel’s independent assessment (received from FOIA documents) can be read here:
In fact, her report was very positive and supportive. Weikel, who went to high school in Winemucca, NV, was appointed to serve on the BLM’s Southeast Oregon Resource Advisory Council (RAC) around 2012. Meeting minutes from April 2012 noted that Weikel was “getting oriented with how the RAC works” and the minutes from January 2013 noted “Weikel has been looking into the history of the Wild Horse and Burro Program and what is going on in the various Herd Management Areas. Weikel recently read a wonderful summary of professional statements about the wild horse and burro population issues called “Honest Horses,” put together by a writer in the Spokane, Washington area.”
The book “Honest Horses” contains interviews with BLM roundup contractor Dave Cattoor, pro-horse slaughter (WH & B Advisory Board member) John Falen, BLM’s Tom Pogacnik (Wild Horse & Program Director in the late 90’s, who admitted that 90% of wild horses rounded up were going to slaughter), ex BLM Director Bob Abbey, Temple Grandin, and ex W H & B Advisory Board member Wayne Burkhardt, among others.
Lets hope Weikel has read some other books regarding wild horses and burros.
The Jan. 2014 minutes from the Southeast Oregon RAC state “Sterilized horses to reduce the number of heads. Each year would sterilize at a different age to control the number of heads. Each sterilized horse is branded.
The goal now is that all the horses will come off the mountain by next year • This is a very healthy horse population • In 2009, stopped surgical vasectomies because anesthesia risk. Used stronger drugs • Proposal- Spay 100 mares in Burns that go back to the range. Asking for 100 mares to avoid drastic statistics if a couple mares died. Can RAC be supportive of this proposal? Yes • Data on the chart (handout) is from Fish and Wildlife. It will be published at some point • How much does it cost to spay? $200/ head for top quality drugs for spaying mares. • $30/day mare for top quality drugs • Cons: o. There are a few individuals with the skills to spay mares. We would need to head the trainings. There will be a death loss. We don’t know what the long term survival rate after returning to the range. • Thriving ecological balances? Long and short term holdings are full. We have the funds to move forward, but we are waiting on Congress to allow us to hold more. • Consider 10%+ death as a failure rate (Julie’s personal failure rate).”
For one thing, the RAC seemed to be planning on how to skew the results of the field spaying of mares with “Asking for 100 mares to avoid drastic statistics if a couple mares died.” Also, there are only a few individuals with the skills to spay mares, but are they going to “train” people to do this on our wild horses? And this is stated in a cold, matter of fact manner: “There will be a death loss. We don’t know what the long term survival rate after returning to the range.”
Then they shouldn’t be doing this. I repeat: The BLM is EXPERIMENTING ON OUR WILD HORSES & BURROS.
We are anticipating that the BLM will make a big push for the permanent sterilization of wild horses and burros at the upcoming National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board meeting this April 22-23 in Columbus, Ohio. It seems they may now have another sterilization supporter on the Board.
As a member of the Oregon Natural Desert Association, Julie said she likes cattle. She’ll fit right in on the BLM National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board.