Where have all the horses gone? And Why?

A more detailed article on Palomino Valley from Terri Farley’s BLOG

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All images taken at National Wild Horse and Burro Center, Palomino Valley, Nevada, December 30, 2015.

by Terri Farley

I  live about 40 minutes from the Palomino Valley corrals. Since it’s open to the public, I often drive out to check on the horses and talk with John Neill, operations manager for the facility.

When I drove up yesterday, many corrals were empty. Palomino Valley corrals can hold 1850 equines and BLM round-ups usually keep it well-stocked with captive wild horses and burros.

The only times I’d seen the corrals so ghost-town quiet was when mustangs had been cleared out to make room for an influx of newly “gathered” horses. I assumed this had happened again, to make room for the survivors of Oregon’s Beaty Butte round-up.

When I checked in at BLM headquarters. Jeremy Wilhelm, wrangler, sat at the front desk. He said John Neill wouldn’t be in the office until the end of January.

When I mentioned that the corrals outside were pretty empty, Wilhelm agreed. He said a bunch of mares had gone to a Bruno, Idaho sanctuary.

How many?
He didn’t know.

Why? He couldn’t say

When? He shrugged.

Wilhelm recalled that more horses had been moved to Carson City, Elm Creek and Paul’s Valley.

How many? Why? When? He said he didn’t know and joked, “I guess I’m the village idiot.”

I insisted there must be a reason for all the missing horses and he told me, again in a joking tone, “Maybe they’re shutting us down.”

I asked if space was being made for incoming survivors of the Beaty Butte round-up?

Nope, they were already in corrals 1,2, 3 with a few in 4.

He said there were 1400 horses onsite. Later, after I’d walked the corrals, he revised that to 1200.

Could I have missed seeing some horses? Yes. I didn’t do a head count and some were banging around in the enclosed processing chute, apparently getting booster vaccines. Laying on my belly, I saw hooves, but not enough to account for hundreds of horses.

Back at my laptop, I emailed Jason Lutterman, BLM Public Affairs Specialist, asking if he could clarify the fuzzy 12-1400 number of horses, and find out why, when and how many wild horses had been shipped to Idaho, Paul’s Valley, Elk Creek and Carson City.
Lutterman responded immediately. The official count said 1,134 horses were at Palomino Valley on December 22, and he’d get answers to the rest of my questions as soon as he could.

Now, as I wait, I want to believe Wilhelm’s joke that the facility is being shut down. I want to think BLM has realized they don’t have a wild horse problem, but a people problem. That’s what I want, but experience tells me to stop dreaming.

I mean, really, what are the odds a blindfold’s been snatched from the Bureau’s eyes to reveal that it’s greed, not mustangs, drawing us ever closer to the death of the West?

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53 comments on “Where have all the horses gone? And Why?

  1. Is this the Old West built on horses blood sweat and tears The VERY SAME HORSES THAT HELPED DEFEND OUR COUNTRY? The Very same horses that rounded up Cattle to build Empires? It took a Financial Collapse of the Old West and the very Beef that threatens our Wild Horses for land management had to be marketed by Chicago Illinois to build that Empire of Wealth. Will people in the USA finally use their sense of common decency to save these outnumbered…pressured….rounded up and injured some left for dead horses that now appear to be missing. The horse precedes the vehicles and technology and doesnt get the respect it deserves. Why do we have to follow Agency Sworn to uphold the Act to preserve and protect while they complain of overpopulation that they were in charge of controlling? We have to literally follow them with recording devices and pooper scoopers to find these horses. If were so highly populated….why cant we find them????????????

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    • Need to have people watching closely these facilities at all times. This Collins Rep and others in charge need to be pressed for answers .They’ve sold them to kill buyers before…what’s to say they aren’t now?
      What a bunch of dirty rotten scumbags.

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  2. Thank you, Terri Farley … for this information and for everything you do for our wild ones.

    FYI
    BLM facility reports:
    965 WH&B September 21, 2015
    697 WH & 14 WB October 21, 2015
    678 WH & 14 WB November 21, 2015
    (December 21, 2015 report not available to the public yet)

    Beaty’s Butte total horses gathered:1070 – gather completed 11/22/15

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  3. Its no surprise that the person sitting in the office was so evasive about answering a simple question about where the horses were that used to be in the pens. They are told what to tell anyone inquiring about them. Debbie do you know anyone living nearby in any of the states where the other holding pens are? If someone could drive to the pens just to take a look to see if they were also mostly empty at least that would give a person some idea as to where they went.

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  4. Per Monika Courtney: Debbie Collins, BLM, just contacted her with the following information: Per Jason, as of yesterday, December 30th, there were 1,141 horses and 12 burros at the facility. Jason will take pictures on his way home tomorrow and provide. We shall see…

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      • Reposting a recent comment as readers may not see it otherwise

        Nancy L
        January 3, 2016 @ 5:13

        I was just out at PVC today Sunday Jan 3 at about 12;30pm. There was one corral empty the one closest to the office all the other pens had horses in them from 50 to 150 horses in each.

        I don’t know where this came out that there were no horses.

        I am not sticking up for the BLM, what they are doing to our wild horses is disgusting. But the horses are there a good 1500 to 1800 horses. There was plenty of hay even though it was on the ground instead of the green stands in each pen. Didn’t see any shelters for them which the BLM promised they were to install from the Reno Public Workshop that was arranged because of the channel 2 KTVN local news interview I had with John Potter which got the ball rolling and the public awareness of the conditions out there.

        I do not trust anything the BLM says in regards to caring for these beautiful creatures but they did look good and there was plenty of food.

        They need to be set FREE plain and simple. But there are ways to go about things to not put them on the defensive, that does not help the situation for the horses. Seek to understand before being understood. That might be the thing these wild horses need is peaceable inquiries and not finger pointing to get some good done for them.

        Thank you,

        Nancy M Leake

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      • If Mary saw 1,500 to 1,800 horses at Palomino Valley, that would mean the BLM just moved in 900 to 1,200 horses from somewhere else. Terri Farley took many more photos photos of all the corrals, and photos don’t lie. Thanks to Mary for letting us know what she saw after Terri’s accurate accounting of what she observed on Dec. 31, 4 days prior. The BLM is shuffling horses.

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      • Reposting another comment

        Barbara Warner
        January 1, 2016
        From Kathy McCovey the last update they stated Was Dec 22. Since I live exactly 2 miles from that facility and drive by it daily going in and out of the valley, I can tell you there were that many horses there until Christmas eve. Then two pens were completely emptied and several others very sparse. I would say that they shipped out approximately 6-700 horses.
        Kathy, is a long time advocate . She also said one pen had just weanlings in it.

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  5. I heard from another source that someone in BLM says there all there. That they will call Washington…blah blah blah. Me? I TRUST Terri far more than anyone in the BLM or any of the rabid advocates out there. Terri asks pertinent questions and raises question when 2+2 isn’t 4.

    And since we know BLM sent 1400 horses to Tm Davis and then he sent them to slaughter…it isn’t a far reach to think bad things. And if Tom Davis isn’t bad enough then I suggest reading H Alan O’Day’s book The Horse Lover. Mr o’Day is Chief Justice Sandra Day o’Connor’s brother. He had the first equine long term holding permit. He documents how BLM sent half his horses to that bad place. And on another occasion because BLM didn’t want to pay for the horses thru the winter they demanded he KILL 25 of the oldest horses. Not injured or blind…THEY HAD TO BE THE OLDEST.

    This is the most corrupt agency in Washington.

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    • Thanks for the information, Margaret.

      “He documents how BLM sent half his horses to that bad place.”
      Are you saying that BLM sent half of the wild horses he had to slaughter?
      “And on another occasion because BLM didn’t want to pay for the horses thru the winter they demanded he KILL 25 of the oldest horses.”
      True and documented in the book?
      And just exactly WHO gave those orders to him?

      It would be anomalous to infer that by authorizing the custodian of the wild free roaming horses and burros to “manage” them, Congress intended to permit the animals’ custodian to subvert the primary policy of the statute by capturing and removing from the wild the very animals that Congress sought to protect from being captured and removed from the wild.

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      • GG You really should read Mr. O’Day’s book! The manner in which the BLM treated him and the wild horses they “gave” him is no different than how they are treated the wild horses & burros AND the advocates today!! Good book.

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  6. I’m curious especially since over $40 million is earmarked for horses in long and short term BLM holding facilities. If the facilities are suddenly emptied (or closed as in Rock Springs, with no credible accountability for the disposition of horses there), shouldn’t this be reflected in a decreased budget? As in, shouldn’t this suddenly smaller captive horse population cost less? Does any of that budget get refunded (I know, rhetorical question, but if the justification for the increased budget is the care of captive horses, and they have disappeared into either less costly care or the slaughter pipeline, someone is still collecting those million$$$).

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  7. As I read more and more about this it seems clear to me they are making plenty of room to continue removing horses from the range, hinting they already gave the green light to those gathers that are within comments period.

    And even if it is true they were moved to a “sanctuary” in Idaho, I think there is plenty of room here for wranglers to “seize the opportunity” and divert some wild horses, particularly those without brands (not that that matters much as we could see with Davis), to the slaughter pipeline and thus rake in some extra cash.

    If BLM wants to look transparent they’s rather start saying where they took the horses to and provide solid evidence of their claims, including an independent on-site audit of these horses new location.

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    • Daniel, I don’t think they have much interest in providing solid information to the public (endless examples of this exist), and since Tom Davis et al just got proven guilty but won’t face any prosecutions, why should they do anything different? The only way a positive change can come is through public insistence, writ large as Wild Horse Annie showed us is possible.

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      • Yes, I agree. I have a bad feeling next week we will only get more evasives and gibberish about privacy protection as an excuse as to not telling where they took the horses, or what they’ve done with them. Who knows, they might have even been sold in bulk as Davis’ ones were.

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    • Exactly. Would be so easy to lose track of these horses and for them to end up in klll buyers hands. The BLM SHOULD have a proven accurate count on these captured horses at all times and should be made available to the public.
      The sad part is that if there really is a total of 60,000 WH&B in captivity how can they possibly all be adopted out?
      So why are they still rounding up more horses? Who makes these decisions and why? The lovely Burns amendnent allows for their disposal if they can’t be adopted

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    • Exactly. The BLM SHOULD have a proven accurate count on these captured horses at all times and should be made available to the public.
      The sad part is that if there really is a total of 60,000 WH&B in captivity how can they possibly all be adopted out?
      So why are they still rounding up more horses? Who makes these decisions and why? The lovely Burns amendnent allows for their disposal if they can’t be adopted

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    • Dee, I don’t find this fishy. With short staff and fewer chores to do, and cold weather, it makes perfect sense to me. Someone had to be there over the holidays since it sounds like the more senior staff are on holiday.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dee, I agree, but it often seems folks vilify the worker bees for the BLM, who are not the ones making the decisions generally speaking. What we need is accountability and a shift towards PUBLIC service higher up, at a policy and agency level.

        Of course there are bad apples in any organization, and the current situation would seem to financially reward these, but I think we can all agree it’s a systemic problem that allows and enables all the perversity we see (and probably a lot we don’t).

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Disgusting how the BLM is zeroing out these iconic beautiful horses while hundreds of thousands of people are dead set against doing this. Why cantt they listen to the people? These horses draw tourism as many come to these wild horse locations to watch the horsea in the wild running about with their families, friends.

    The latest decision by Congress was to make it illegal to traffic horses to slaughter houses and stop the slaughter houses in This country. However why is the BLM still proceeding with these unjustified roundups?
    With 60,000 horses and burros in holding pens like prison camps how are they going to adopt all these horses out? They need shelter, excercise
    The Burns law which needs to be squashed was passed through on a rider states the BLM can dispose iof the horses that aren’t adopted. . Why does tge BLM want to zero out our wild horse populstion?.
    Why are they allowing grazing permits to big businesses who don’t even have cattle?
    Then they hold onto these pemits and lease them out to some other business.
    .
    Welfare Rancher permits need to be stopped.
    Many ranchers get these permits fairly cheap and then do whatever they want with the wildlife on it and play monopoly with these leases. It’s out of control! !! And why are foreign countries allowed to participate in getting permits on our public lands?

    The sad part is they are getting wealthier at the blood of our horses, our wild lives expense.

    Stop Welfare ranchIng permits, change the Burns amendnent.
    We want our wild horses to stay wild and free
    And the government getting involved with their care only leads to the Devastation of these herds, breaks up their families, seperates foals ftom Mares.
    How us it we have turned on our loyal and faithful companions who have stood by us, carried our burdens throughout history?
    We owe them protection from harm and their freedom, it’s the least we can do

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  9. Was wondering where the 1800 WH& burros went from Beattys Butte November’roundup. Does anyone know ? These poor horses shuffled around like this. Is this so we lose track of where they’ve gone so they cant be monitored?

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    • GG, thanks for publishing this. It shows there were 313 horses in Rock Springs holding as of Nov. 18. With the facility closed and no adoptions being held until Feb. 29, it will be educational to learn how many are (or aren’t) still there on March 1, 2016.

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  10. From Kathy McCovey the last update they stated Was Dec 22. Since I live exactly 2 miles from that facility and drive by it daily going in and out of the valley, I can tell you there were that many horses there until Christmas eve. Then two pens were completely emptied and several others very sparse. I would say that they shipped out approximately 6-700 horses.

    Kathy, is a long time advocate . She also said one pen had just weanlings in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes .write congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona. He’s been to the Palomino center a couple of times. Long time advocate for our wild horses. I’m sure he gets a lot of hate mail from the opposition but please write him

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  11. This has nothing to do with this article – but am still chuckling over a phone call from the Sierra Club (not a member) for donation! Gave the gal on the phone an earful about the Sierra Club’s not sticking up for wild horses & burros on public land – never had ANY call for donations hang up quicker than that!!!!! Usually if I do answer – there is a long drawnout reason why I should donate – NOT this time.

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  12. Something not right here! So many wild horses being cleared off their rightful legal areas and amassed into concentration camp situations. It is totally opposite what the pure intent of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was and remains, but it is we who still now right from wrong who must stand up and do something about what is happening. We can do it in this new year 2016, which brings us yet another chance. We must do it for the horses and the burros sake and for decency’s sake!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Because of the new Omnibus statute it is now illegal to ship horses out of the country.
    However, tragically there is a grace period so u can bet this is why these horses are being shuffled around.
    We need to get as many horse advocates and organizations together to demand an investigation of the BLM…and stop this. ….before it’s too late.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Vicki,

      Unfortunately this is not correct. The amendment included in the FY2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill only prevents new slaughter plants from opening up by denying them inspections mandatory to sell the meat, nothing more. Wish it were otherwise:

      https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2029/text?format=txt

      «Sec. 767. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made
      available by this Act shall be used to pay the salaries and expenses of
      personnel–
      (1) to inspect horses under section 3 of the Federal Meat
      Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 603);
      (2) to inspect horses under section 903 of the Federal
      Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (7 U.S.C. 1901 note;
      Public Law 104-127); or
      (3) to implement or enforce section 352.19 of title 9, Code of
      Federal Regulations (or a successor regulation).
      This division may be cited as the “Agriculture, Rural Development,
      Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act,
      2016”.»

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    • Note as well that this language has been in place since 2005, although it only become really effective in 2008. It also expired from 2011 to 2013 since it has to be renewed each fiscal year. The problem is that this year it was in danger of not being included in the appropriations law due to a few unruly, aggresive Congressmen pushing a pro-slaughter agenda to rally a certain political spectrum of society, amongst other things.

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      • Those figures are a spinoff of BLM data. They are totally off base and surreal. Not surprising, since that so-called coalition is an anti wild horse think tank.

        Liked by 2 people

      • This so-called “National Horse and Burro Range Management Coalition” is not a true organization. It is actually a phoney think-tank created by all the wild horse haters and horsemeat worshipers. In other words, another Sue Wallis / Duquette / Lucas Forrester pseudo industry sect or boiler room.

        You only have to read the propaganda claims in their home page to realize it is a sham but, if you are still not conviced, take a look of who composes this so-called “coalition”:

        http://www.wildhorserange.org/members.html

        •American Farm Bureau Federation
        •American Sheep Industry Association
        •Masters of Foxhounds Association
        •Mule Deer Foundation
        •National Association of Conservation Districts
        •National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
        •National Rifle Association
        •National Wildlife Refuge Association
        •Public Lands Council
        •Public Lands Foundation
        •Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
        •Safari Club International
        •Society for Range Management
        •The Wildlife Society

        Basically, the most prominent rooten apples of American society, including that lion-killing dentist association. In fact, what the heck does the Masters of Foxhounds, a British entity dedicated to shoot foxes in Great Britain, have to do with Western US AMERICAN wild mustangs??? Did they get bored of shooting foxes or what?

        Please, do not visit their site so as to prevent Google from ranking them up in their search engine… wish Anonymous would take that fascistoid propaganda site down.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Many of these organizations have a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the BLM (a you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours type of agreement).

        Liked by 2 people

  14. Back to the main topic of this article, do we have confirmation that the missing wild horses returned to Palomino Valley? If so, what’s the explanation offered by BLM for their disappearance and sudden return to the facility? Where did they take them to and exactly how manyreturned? Anybody living near please report.

    Like

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