Letter to the editor: Oregon State University should focus more on ways to benefit lives of horses

written by Charlotte Roe and published on OSU’s Daily Barometer

“Livestock outnumber wild horses and burros by at least 37 to 1 on federal lands.”

I am saddened that OSU, a pioneer in environmental sciences, would become involved in unethical, highly controversial experiments on protected wild horses. This issue has already brought unfavorable publicity to a great University. We can all do better.

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The Daily Barometer’s April 18 article on Wild Horse Sterilization Research stated that “BLM first contacted OSU and the School of Veterinary Medicine and asked them to examine three potential sterilization methods as a third party researcher and determine which one is the most safe and effective, according to VP Clark.” BLM cannot pre-pick its research partners. OSU competed for and won a grant of its own design to participate in these experiments.

The proposed sterilization experiments would be performed on 225 wild mares and young fillies in a non-sterile outdoor pen without pre-operative or post-operative standard care . Invasive and highly risky surgeries using “inferior” veterinary methodologies would be performed on these already highly stressed animals. Many will die, according to the BLM’s own estimates. The subjects of these brutish experiments, if they survive, would no longer be wild by nature.

The experiments violate the guidelines of AAALAC, which accredits OSU’s animal research activities. They would also violate the law. The Bureau of Land Management has no statutory authority to conduct invasive experimentation on protected wild horses.

Assistant Professor Dawn Sherwood asserted that wild horses are overpopulating, ruining the range and competing with other species. This is an old canard. Wild mustangs have long been accused of ruining the rangelands by commercial interests that treat federal lands as their private domain. Yet BLM statistics count 47,329 wild horses on federal lands totaling 31.6 million acres in 2015. On average, that amounts to 667.6 acres per horse — hardly an overpopulation. Dr. Gus Cothran, the leading U.S. specialist on equine genetics, maintains that the majority of BLM-managed wild horse herd areas are far below the population levels required for genetic viability.

Livestock outnumber wild horses and burros by at least 37 to 1 on federal lands. Cattle typically congregate around water holes; predator-wary wild horses drink and move on. Cattle and sheep, having no upper teeth, use their palates to rip the grass and often uproot forage. Equines’ teeth clip the grass down. Unlike cattle, horses do not digest grass seeds but distribute them like “seed farmers.” They coexist with livestock and with many wild species.

The Administration maintains that by simply observing and evaluating the proposed experiments, OSU will distance itself from the outcomes. Yet by enabling research that abuses protected animals, the University’s good name and the credibility of its students will be badly compromised.

There’s time for a reset: reject this bogus research, and instead examine ways to better the lives of wild horses and burros through humane management practices by perfecting reversible methods of fertility control and by improving the range ecology for all species.


Charlotte Roe


Jail Sentence Expected to Buoy Horse Slaughter Fight

By as published on Off Track Thoroughbreds

“Way to go ‘Kudo”, keep up the good fight, we love ya man!” ~ R.T.

“This is the first time in the history of the state (Florida) that … a person has been sentenced to prison for torturing animals,”

Richard Couto, founder of the Animal Recovery Mission, helped convict a Florida man to a 1-year jail term for animal cruelty this week. Couto spent six months gathering evidence to help bring the conviction.

Richard Couto, founder of the Animal Recovery Mission, helped convict a Florida man to a 1-year jail term for animal cruelty this week. Couto spent six months gathering evidence to help bring the conviction.

An animal advocacy group seeking to shut down illegal horse slaughterhouses and other illegal butcheries received a shot in the arm this week when a Florida rancher, targeted in an undercover sting, was sentenced to a year in jail.

Following the sentencing of Jorge Luis Garcia, 48, of Ranchos Garcia Farm to a year behind bars without possibility of probation, animal-rights activist Richard “Kudo” Couto declared the sentence a “groundbreaking” decision, one that should help other prosecution efforts of illegal slaughterhouses.

“We’ve investigated 137 cases, but this is the first one involving the treatment of farm animals that has gone to trial,” says Couto, founder and president of the Animal Recovery Mission (ARM). Prior to Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer’s sentencing of Garcia to 364 days in a county jail on Tuesday, the Animal Recovery Mission had yet to have one of its cases result in this stiff a sentence, Couto says.

“This is the first time in the history of the state that … a person has been sentenced to prison for torturing animals,” Couto says, noting that Garcia was charged with two misdemeanor counts of torturing goats to death.

The sentencing came months after Couto and other ARM investigators investigated the 4-acre farm in Loxahatchee, which borders the fabled Wellington show grounds.

In October, local and national law enforcement agents who acted on the evidence amassed by Couto and ARM investigators shut down Rancho Garcia Farm in a large-scale sting. Rancho Garcia, along with the G.A. Paso Fino and Medina farms, was shut down, and arrests were made. Please see an earlier article: http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2015/10/16/cuoto-illegal-butchers-killed-show-horses-too/.

Although Couto suspected horses were slaughtered on the farm, and law enforcement recovered horsemeat from farm freezers, no remains of horses were found. And this particular case centered on the treatment of livestock instead, he says.

Noting that he was both surprised and thrilled by the sentence, Couto says the decision establishes case law, which can be used going forward to prosecute other slaughterhouses. “We have several investigations going on right now, and when we conclude them, we’ll use this sentence to show prosecutors that cases against animals can result in jail time,” he says.

Couto is a retired real estate agent who devoted his life, beginning in 2008, to saving horses and investigating illegal slaughterhouses. While volunteering with the South Florida SPCA, Couto helped rescue off-track Thoroughbred Freedom’s Flight from the knife blade of a backyard butcher. The flashy chestnut was tethered tightly to a tree awaiting his death when he was rescued by the Miami-Dade Police. After that incident, Couto adopted the gelding and made it his mission to shut down slaughterhouses. Please see earlier story: http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2015/04/08/liberated-from-illegal-butcher-a-horse-inspires-2/.

After documenting the activities taking place for years in backyard butchers and illegal slaughterhouses, Couto says the sentence this week renews his faith that slaughterhouses will eventually be shut down in Florida.

“Cases involving farm animals are usually overlooked,” Couto told the SunSentinel newspaper. “This is an extremely important case that will help us with our investigations moving forward.”


Mixed reaction to Sandoval threat to sue BLM over wild horses

By JIM MYERS – as published on the Las Vegas Review Journal

“The Propaganda War Against Wild Horses and  Burros Continues…”

BLM Antelope attack in 2011 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

BLM Antelope, NV attack in 2011 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

WASHINGTON — Gov. Brian Sandoval’s threat to pursue legal options to boost federal funding for managing wild horse populations drew mixed reaction from Nevada’s congressional delegation Wednesday.

Reps. Mark Amodei and Joe Heck expressed support Tuesday for the strategy laid out so far by their fellow Republican.

“If you have a guy like Brian Sandoval (angry) at you, you have really hit rock bottom,” Amodei said, noting the governor’s reputation for being an “even-keeled, thoughtful” state leader.

He said Sandoval’s strategy was a “big, big message” to the Bureau of Land Management in Washington, making it clear he was not including the agency’s representatives in Nevada in the same negative view.

Amodei credited the Nevada BLM officials for trying to deal with livestock producers honestly and blamed the Washington office for not heeding their requests.

Heck favors ensuring sustainable herd levels and maintaining access to grazing lands for local ranchers and farmers while requiring the federal government to meet its obligation to fund the efforts, an aide said.

Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy said the federal government, as the largest landlord in Nevada, has a responsibility to provide stewardship of the public lands it controls.

“Unfortunately, the BLM has not lived up to its end of the bargain by failing to manage Nevada’s wild horse populations,” Hardy said. “Instead of stepping up to the plate and addressing the problem, the federal government is planning to rob hard-working Nevadans of their livelihoods as our sensitive habitats continue to get destroyed.”

Republican Sen. Dean Heller said it is BLM’s job to determine whether the range conditions can support wild horse populations.

“It’s not fair for local ranchers to be penalized because BLM isn’t carrying out the law,” Heller said. “While more resources are necessary, the problem is larger than that. The agency has no comprehensive strategy for wild horse management.”

A spokeswoman for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said Democrats support additional funds for the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program and are not standing in the way of providing adequate funding.

“That’s Republicans,” she said.

Democratic Rep. Dina Titus did not comment.

The Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, Nevada Farm Bureau Federation and Nevada Association of Counties welcomed Sandoval’s announcement.

“Wild horse populations in Nevada have skyrocketed to levels unsustainable for the ecology of Nevada’s rangelands and are also impacting sage grouse habitat, horse health and the livelihood of Nevada’s ranching operations, many of which have been in operation for generations,” the groups stated in a statement.

“In response to this situation, the BLM has indicated that there will potentially be further grazing reductions in Elko County.”

Jeff Fontaine, executive director of the Nevada Association of Counties, said horse overpopulation affects not only livestock producers and wildlife habitats, but also local communities and county services.

“Damage from wild horses just in southeast Elko County alone could result in an economic loss of $1.8 million,” Fontaine said.

The uncertain fate of the Salt River horses

By Rebecca Brisley as published on The State Press

““We never gave up on the horses and we never will, either…”

On a sweltering afternoon, Simone Netherlands stood on the rocky shore of the Salt River. A tall woman with blonde hair, she wore a T-shirt that said: PROTECT AND RESPECT WILD HORSES AND BURROS.

She was very familiar with this stretch of the Salt River, at the Coon Bluff recreation site in the Tonto National Forest near the outskirts of the Phoenix metro area. The landscape resembled a Western movie set – the river, cacti, brush, beige-pink soaring cliffs and, for those lucky enough to visit the place at the right time, approximately 100 free-roaming horses that rely on the river for water and forage.

To Netherlands, they’re beloved. She calls them the Salt River Wild Horses, and spent much of the last year battling authorities and environmentalists who wanted the horses removed from the land.

Netherlands is a leader of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, which has monitored the herd for years. She said removing the horses from the land would destroy the herd—a herd she said is a living link to the historic Wild West.

She said removing the herd could result in the purchase of some of the horses by “kill buyers,” who would sell the animals to Mexican slaughterhouses.

“Whenever there are wild horses for cheap, kill buyers are there and they stuff them in their trucks and drive them to Mexico,” she said. “Who else but a kill buyer would want a truckload of wild horses that are not tamed?”

In October 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management reported that a Colorado rancher, who bought 1,700 wild horses from the Bureau of Land Management

Wild Horse and Burro Program and resold them to kill buyers who sent the horses to Mexican slaughterhouses.

“It is absolutely our worst nightmare,” Netherlands said. “It is so awful to think about.”

She has rescued horses for years, she said. When she was 10, she took horse-training lessons at a military base in Holland. If the horses misbehaved, the instructors would tell their pupils to whip the horses after the lessons, she said. She realized she didn’t need to be cruel to the animals in order to work with them, and that compassionate, patient training was the route that horses would respond to. When she was 20, she started humane horse training, she said, and she now runs a horse-rescue organization, Respect 4 Horses, and has a sanctuary in Prescott where several rescue horses reside.

“I used to myself purchase horses from the kill buyer that lived close to me and I would retrain them and adopt them out for free,” she said.

About 12 years ago, she began to devote much of her time to what is now the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group. Netherlands helped document and monitor the herd with others who were also interested in the animals, like photographers along the banks. She said the group studies the horses and advocates for their safety. Netherlands blamed humans, not horses, for causing the most ecological damage to the river, saying damage from the horses is minimal. She noted pollution from littering, old barbed-wire fencing and even the controlled flow of the river in the winter are factors that damage the river’s ecology.

Because of their closeness to the city, the Salt River horses are well-known and controversial. The horses have tens of thousands of fans on Facebook. They often stand quietly in the river while tourists, just a few feet away, snap photos with their phones.

One winter afternoon, three horses grazed in the river next to two cattle. They were protected by tangles of cattails and thorny bushes on the bank. Down the road, a band of six horses had gathered underneath a mesquite tree at a picnic area that was closed for repair work. A colt clung to its mother’s side. Its face was adorned with a white stripe, just like the mare’s. A filly with a caramel-colored coat pranced around playfully and was not afraid to break away from the others—though she never strayed too far away from her family. After about 20 minutes, the horses finished grazing and walked toward a brush-laden mountain.

The presence of the horses on the river has fired up disputes between public agencies, conservationists and animal advocates. For nearly a year, the animals have been the subject of protest marches, letter campaigns, visits to Arizona’s congressional delegation in Washington, two federal lawsuits, and two proposed laws in the Arizona Legislature.

But today, the fate of the horses remains undecided…(CONTINUED)


Welfare Ranchers Forced to Scale Back in Elko County NV

Featured in the Elko County Free Press

“Sorry but I live in an agricultural community surrounded by cattle, horses and donkeys and not once have I heard any of them do the whining and hand wringing that the welfare ranchers on OUR public lands do over what they feel is their “entitlement”.  I just don’t have one ounce of sympathy in my soul for them.  Here in Texas we buy, fence, manage and pay taxes on our grazing land and we do NOT take handouts from the government.  Out on our public lands the welfare cattle ravage the range, destroy the watering holes and out number the wild equines 100 to 1.  The numbers in the article, below, are skewed and it is a big bunch of welfare propaganda but it does do my heart good to see the government leeches stress over their free ride.  Sorry, again, but it’s about time that subsidized grazing cease upon a national, natural keepsake, our public lands.” ~ R.T.

“Let the Whining Begin…”

Privately owned welfare cattle being herded onto public land and wild horse habitat  during the Antelope Valley roundup of 2011~  photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Privately owned welfare cattle being herded onto public land and wild horse habitat during the Antelope Valley roundup of 2011~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

ELKO – Cattle grazing will likely be reduced on allotments south of Wells this summer because of an overpopulation of wild horses.

Elko County Commissioner Rex Steninger said he was told by Nevada State Director John Ruhs that the BLM planned to closed several of the allotments.

“Director Ruhs said his agency would be sending letters out Monday notifying the permittees that they needed to schedule meetings with their BLM representatives,” Steninger said.

The Elko BLM office confirmed Monday that letters were being sent to 10 permittees regarding 14 allotments.

The letters are about “starting a conversation regarding utilization objectives on allotments, specifically in areas that are affected by excess wild horse use,” said Greg Deimel, BLM public information officer.

The allotments are located in four herd management areas: Antelope Valley, Maverick-Medicine, Goshute, and Spruce-Pequop.

Elko County Commissioner Demar Dahl said Tim Smith of the state BLM office told him most of the allotments would be completely closed to grazing, but a few of them could be left open with 50 percent reductions in grazing levels.

Deimel said the BLM negotiated last year with ranchers in the area and they agreed to voluntarily reduce grazing by 10,000 AUMs (animal unit months), or about half their normal level.

Grazing conditions are expected to be better this year because of greater precipitation. Deimel said the BLM wants to meet with permittees on the ground in each allotment to evaluate range conditions.

He said there are no current applications in progress for horse gathers in that part of the state.

According to Steninger, Ruhs has submitted requests for horse gathers to ease the problems, but even if those requests were approved, it would be too late for this grazing season. The earliest a horse gather could be organized now would be this fall, he said.

“This is going to be really tough news for the affected ranchers,” Steninger said. “Everyone is already getting ready to turn their cows out on these grazing allotments and to announce the closures now leaves no time to find alternatives.”

Deimel said the agency would be discussing options with ranchers such as using alternative pastures.

He said the has BLM gathered 1,750 horses in the region since 2011 and it is still overpopulated by “thousands” of horses. Getting the numbers down to the minimum authorized level would involve removing approximately 1,000 horses from each of the four herd management areas, he said.

Other permittees might be affected beyond the current allotments now being evaluated, according to Deimel.

“They had to have known what the horse numbers were for months,” said Steninger. “I don’t understand why they waited until now to make the announcement.”

“I’ve worked with Director Ruhs before and he has proven to be a good man. He was very helpful during the disputes over the closed allotments in Lander County. He was a welcome relief over his predecessor,” Steninger added. “I suspect he is following orders from above. This doesn’t sound like something he would do.”

Julie Gleason, a member of the local Resource Advisory Council to the BLM, said the planned closures were news to her.

“We just met with the director last month and nothing was said then,” Gleason said in a press release.

“The only solution is to remove horses from the ranges,” she said, “but every time we get something going, the environmentalists stop us.”

“It is an absolute disgrace that the misguided whims of environmentalists are given precedence over the livelihoods of our ranching families,” Steninger said.

The BLM has had little success at controlling wild horse populations. The most common method has been to round up horses and burros exceeding the congressionally authorized limit of 26,715. Yet, there are now more than 58,000 still on the ranges, according to BLM estimates.

Deimel said their numbers “double every few years.”

BLM News: Public Tour of Bruneau Off-Range Corrals May 13

Unedited BLM Press Release

BLM News

DATE: April 25, 2016
CONTACT: Heather Tiel-Nelson, 208-736-2352
Public Tour of Bruneau Off-Range Corrals May 13
The Bruneau Off-Range Corrals are located at 28536 Jacks Creek Road, and are privately owned and operated. About a 75-minute drive southeast of Boise, the facility provides care for up to 3,500 wild horses or burros. The facility encompasses 80 acres containing 39 large holding pens, each pen measuring 70,000 square feet that will safely hold approximately 100 horses. The horses receive an abundance of feed tailored to their needs each day, along with a constant supply of fresh water through automatic watering troughs. Free choice mineral block supplements are also provided to the animals in each pen. A veterinarian routinely inspects the horses and provides necessary medical care as needed. BLM strives to place horses removed from the range into good, private homes.  
BLM will offer a public tour of the Bruneau Off-Range Corrals on Friday, May 13. Two public tours will be offered — the first will begin at 10 a.m. and the second will begin at 1 p.m. Each tour will last about two hours and will accommodate up to 20 people. Spaces will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. The public can sign up to attend and receive driving directions to the facility by calling BLM at (208) 845-2001.
What to Know Before You Go On a Public Tour
•         Tours start promptly at the scheduled time, so be at the facility a few minutes early or the wagon may leave and we cannot come back to pick you up
•         Bring comfortable shoes and clothes. Hats and sunscreen recommended 
•         Bring your own water
•         Cameras and video cameras welcome
•         Visitors will not be able to walk around the facility unaccompanied. They must travel with the group in the wagon at all times
Can I sign up for a tour right now?
Please RSVP for one of the two tours by May 10, 2016. You may RSVP by calling BLM at (208) 845-2001.

Feel Good Sunday Update: Horse pelted with paintballs finds new friend at secret pasture

By Fran Maye, as published on The Southern Chester County News

“…Lily’s life will be much more comfortable with a companion….”

EAST MARLBOROUGH >> Lily, the 20-year-old horse pelted 130 times by paintballs has found a mate.

paintballThe 20-year-old horse has been moved from a rehabilitation stable at the 700-acre New Bolton Center to a recovery barn in Chester County. There, it has found a horse named Anita who also has vision problems.

Louisa Shepherd, New Bolton Center spokesperson, said the two horses have been getting along great, eating grass together.

Lily gained statewide attention after the attack on March 14 at New Holland Stables. A criminal investigation is ongoing into the horse’s mistreatment, and a $10,000 reward has been offered for information bringing those responsible to justice.

Phillip S. Price, 65, of Rhode Island, has been charged with animal cruelty, handling animals without a license and importing animals without an interstate health certificate in connection with the case.

Dr. Nikki Scherrer, New Bolton Center ophthalmologist, said Lily has improved vastly since the paintball attack.

“The area where we removed (Lily’s) right eye is basically healed,” she said. “The left eye gets a little more comfortable each day. The eye opens up a little bit more each day and she has less tearing.”

Lily is still underweight, Scherrer said, adding she expects to be treating the horse for another month or so.

Anita, the horse Lily has come to grow fond to, has a cancerous tumor in her right eye. Her right eye was removed to save her life, Scherrer said. New Bolton surgeons did post-operative chemotherapy injections to treat any possible cancer, and so far has no re-growth of cancer.

Scherer said Lily’s life will be much more comfortable with a companion.

“(Lily) doesn’t need a buddy, but it is much nicer to have a companion to follow around to make (her) feel comfortable. Anita is a fantastic pasture buddy. I knew Anita would make a solid companion.”

Shepherd said Lily’s location is close to the New Bolton Center, but it will not be revealed.

“We are afraid people will try to visit her,” she said. “She has got a lot of attention.”


Indicted Businessman Names Harry Reid as Alleged Recipient of Massive Bribe

by as published on the gopthedailydose.com

Political Enemy of Wild Horses and Burros in Center of Scandal

A Utah businessman is rocking both state and national politics after claiming Utah Attorney General John Swallow helped him broker a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a federal investigation into his company quietly disappear, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Jeremy Johnson was allegedly told that the price would be $600,000, and claims to have made an initial payment of $250,000 when he was slapped with a federal lawsuit.  Now he says he wants his money back.

The Salt Lake Tribune points out that Johnson has no way of knowing whether the funds actually made it to Reid, even if he did make a massive payment to Reid’s alleged intermediary.

The Salt Lake Tribune continues, explaining how the bribe supposedly came to be in 2010:

At the time, Johnson was largely known in Utah as a wealthy philanthropist who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to ferry supplies into Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Then, with the FTC investigation continuing, Johnson said Swallow suggested Reid could make problems with regulators go away — for a price.

“I said, ‘OK, what do I need to do?’ He’s like, ‘OK, it costs money,’ ” Johnson said, who claimed Swallow was adamant he make a deal.

“I think he told me, ‘Richard Rawle has a connection with Harry Reid,’ ” Johnson said.

He said Swallow at first wanted $2 million to enlist Reid’s help. But [his company] I Works was no longer profitable and he did not have the money, Johnson said, so they eventually agreed on $300,000 upfront and $300,000 later.

Swallow put Johnson in contact with Rawle, whose company has operations in Nevada…

Rawle, who died of cancer last month, had contributed to Reid’s 2010 re-election bid and later bragged to Johnson that the Nevada Democrat helped him delay new federal payday-loan regulations, Johnson said.

“Richard [Rawle] is traveling to LV tomorrow and will be able to contact this person, who he has a very good relationship with. He needs a brief narrative of what is going on and what you want to happen. I don’t know the cost, but it probably won’t be cheap.”

On Oct. 7, Johnson emailed Rawle, insisting there was “rock solid proof” the FTC allegations against I Works were false. “We will do whatever it take[s] to get Senator Reid on our side and hopefully you can help make it happen. Let me know.”

Johnson spent 96 days in jail and has released a number of emails and statements seemingly corroborating parts of his story.  However, Swallow insists that Johnson is making “false and defamatory accusations” and that any role he may have played was merely for lobbying purposes.

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Swallow stated. “As long as I’m not interfering with a government agency as a government official, there’s nothing wrong with me being involved.”

But Johnson told a judge he’s felt guilty about the situation from the start: “The truth is the worst thing I think I’ve done was I paid money knowing it was going to influence Harry Reid…So I’ve felt all along that I’ve committed bribery of some sort there.”

Though the connection to Reid remains unverified, some are remembering how Reid claimed on the Senate floor that Mitt Romney hadn’t paid his taxes for ten years based on far less evidence.

A Las Vegas Review-Journal blog jokes about how Reid might address the situation, if looking in from the outside:

I have a “source” that says that Harry Reid takes bribes all the time. In fact, if you want anything done out of his office, you must come with a suitcase of cash just to get an audience. That’s how he’s gotten so rich on a senator’s salary. He stashes his money in an offshore bank account. And, as a sidebar for Salt Lake church execs, he hasn’t tithed on that bribe money.

Senator Harry Reid’s office has declined to comment.

Senator Lisa Murkowski Answers ‘Neigh’ on Horse Protection Amendment

By as published on NEWSWEEK

A senator jokingly offered her best horse impersonation inside the Capitol on Tuesday, voting “neigh” on the Senate floor.

With her animal impression, Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski was the joking lone dissenter on a voice vote related to a horse protection amendment. When New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte asked the chamber for the “nays,” Murkowski responded with an equine “neigh.” The chamber, including Ayotte, erupted into laughter.

The bill aims to ensure that the secretary of the interior collaborates with state and local authorities and certain nonprofit entities to maintain the genetic diversity and viability of the Corolla wild horse population in and around North Carolina’s Currituck National Wildlife Refuge.

Later on Wednesday, the Senate overwhelmingly approved the first comprehensive energy bill since 2007, to which the horse amendment was attached. More than a year in the making, the measure passed 85-12. Its aims are investment in renewable energy, modernizing the electric grid to help integrate renewable technologies and training a new generation of energy workers.

Murkowski, who hails from a prominent Alaskan political family—her father was both the state’s governor and a senator—is well-liked in the chamber but isn’t regarded as one of the upper body’s more notorious cutups. More often, she’s a staid voice for her state’s energy interests, as she was in a new video promoted by the House Republican Conference.

“Our bipartisan path forward will help America produce more energy. It will help Americans pay less for energy, and it will firmly establish America as a global energy superpower,” she says.

The energy bill is widely popular, but it was delayed in February because of a partisan dispute involving two Democratic senators who planned to send hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency aid to Flint, Michigan, to fix contaminated water pipes. The city is dealing with an ongoing crisis involving lead in its drinking water.

OSU considering partnership with BLM to research wild horse sterilization

for The Daily Barometer

“Although we are glad to see that our own Carol Walker, director of documentation at the Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) is quoted at the very beginning of this news article we are, on the other hand, abashed at the unsubstantiated closing comments made by Dawn Sherwood, an assistant professor in animal and rangeland sciences at OSU.  It is shocking that a mouthpiece for the BLM’s propaganda is a paid staff member of OSU and equally chilling that she is doling out misleading and inaccurate information to legions of young, receptive minds.

We ask that you visit the article’s webpage at http://m.orangemedianetwork.com/daily_barometer/osu-considering-partnership-with-blm-to-research-wild-horse-sterilization/article_6e7166e0-050a-11e6-a94c-8b0fdfa002fc.html?mode=jqm and not only counter her comments but ask for documentation, pictures and evidence to backup her outlandish assessment of wild equine effects to rangeland; funny she never mentioned anything about the welfare cattle that outnumber wild horses and burros, on public land, at least 100 to 1.  Kind of makes you wonder why she would make that omission, eh?

My comment to Ms. Sherwood is, ‘Show me the Beef!'” ~ R.T.

Under fire by horse activist groups, the Oregon State University School of Veterinary Medicine and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are looking to collaborate on the sterilization of wild mares in Hines, OR.

Invasive Sterilization

Invasive Sterilization

Carol Walker, director of documentation at the Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) finds OSU’s involvement in the possible experimentation not only unethical and inhumane, but in direct violation of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

The act states that if there’s an overpopulation of wild horses and burros in a given area, sterilization can be used as a means to control the wild horse and burro population. This can only be done with approval by the BLM Secretary of the Interior.

According to Walker, the BLM is violating the act on the grounds that the BLM would be utilizing medically invasive procedures on the animals.

“It in no way conforms to the minimally intrusive management on the range that the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 was passed to ensure,” Walker said in an email.

Walker also takes issue with the environment in which the possible research would take place in, arguing that the holding facility would not be truly sterile and that the horses would be scared of being contained and tested on.

Currently, the BLM is asking OSU to test three different methods of sterilization on the mares, according to Walker.

While the School of Veterinary Medicine would be conducting research on these sterilization methods upon approval, OSU Vice President of University Relations and Marketing Steve Clark is handling all calls and emails concerning the project.

The BLM first contacted OSU and the School of Veterinary Medicine and asked them to examine three potential sterilization methods as a third-party researcher and determine which one is the most safe and effective, according to Clark.

OSU has yet to decide if they will collaborate with the BLM on this project, Clark said. However, the research endeavors the BLM is proposing must first be accepted by a committee within the university.

The university is currently evaluating the proposed project for the safety of the animal subjects, Clark stated.

“Dependent upon whether this research is accepted by this independent university committee, then it would be up to the BLM to accept our requirements for safe and appropriate research methodologies,” Clark said.

According to Clark, OSU as a whole has no opinion on the issue of horse sterilization.

Clark emphasized that OSU takes this matter and community opinions, such as those from Walker very seriously.

“Everyone who sends us an email, we respond in writing. As we receive phone calls, we respond with phone calls,” Clark said.

Clark stated that the groups opposing the project are concerned with the humane treatment of the animals and that OSU agrees with those concerns.

In light of the recent tuition increase that was passed on March 31, Clark emphasized that no tuition dollars will go towards the research project and that funding would come directly from the BLM.

“The funding would provide for the work to be done by the researcher and the care of those animals that are involved in the research,” Clark said.

Clark is unsure of how much student involvement there would be in the project and if there will be any at all.

Clark also stated that OSU’s role in the project is solely research based and has no part in shaping or implementing public policy concerning wild horses and population control. OSU’s role in the project does not relate to any motives the BLM may have.

“The role of a research university, whether it’s about public health and human sciences or engineering or the liberal arts or veterinary medicine, is to both teach and conduct research in an unfettered way and provide information to students and the public in the case of research,” Clark said.

According to Clark, the research will be primarily conducted by Michael Huber, an associate professor of veterinary medicine at OSU and licensed large animal surgeon.

Huber’s work will be monitored by another third-party committee to ensure the safety of the animals and people involved in the project as well making sure that the project is conducted in an ethical way, Clark said.

Clark stated that Huber is concerned about the well-being of the horses and the impacts that overpopulation has on their health.

Huber could not be reached for comment.

Charlotte Roe, a founding member of the Wild Equine League of Colorado, is in opposition of OSU’s potential collaboration with the BLM on the sterilization research project and argues that there are alternatives to testing the three medical procedures, suggesting the possible use of the porcine zona pellucida (PZP) vaccine.

The PZP vaccine is an immunocontraceptive vaccine that is given to mares in as a means to control the population of wild horses in a given area and decrease foal production numbers over a given time period according to the National Center of Biotechnology Information.

According to Dawn Sherwood, an assistant professor in animal and rangeland sciences at OSU, while the PZP vaccine has seen success in other areas, there are few alternatives to mare sterilization in the case of Hines.

Sherwood believes that the sterilization project will affect herd behavior and dynamics in addition to the population of horses in the Hines area.

While wild horses travel in herds, they also have subgroups within the herds called harems. These harems which are comprised of one stallion, a lead mare, and between four and 20 other mares could change in size depending on the outcome of the sterilization research, Sherwood said.

According to Sherwood, the horses’ overpopulation is causing problems within Hines’ ecosystem.

“I don’t have exact numbers as of this year but I do know that the numbers are out of control. They are running out of vegetation, watering holes are going dry – you have things along those lines where the land is just not sufficient enough to provide enough food and water for those horses,” Sherwood said.

Since horses graze to the ground due to the structure of their teeth, they cause damage to grasses and create competition between other horses, deer and elk. Additionally, because of the structure and design of their hooves, an overpopulation of horses is causing damage to Hines’ lakes and riverbanks, according to Sherwood.

When a large group of 20-40 horses are around a single watering hole, their hooves can trample down the edges and cause damage to the area’s riparian zones, according to Sherwood.

Sherwood mentioned that wild horses are a species that were originally introduced to the United States by humans, but as agriculture became more industrialized and the use of tractors became more common, the horses were often set free by their owners.

“That’s really the basis of our wild horses, that they are feral horses and they’ve replicated, they’ve reproduced, and that’s where it needs to be taken care of is reducing their reproduction,” Sherwood said.

As a result, the horses reproduced on their own and began roaming countrysides nationwide, Sherwood said.

According to Sherwood, there are positive outcomes that could come from sterilizing the mares including decreasing foal production numbers and the environmental problems that come with overpopulation.

Sherwood takes issue with opponents of the sterilization research project because she believes that some groups are advocating to maintain the status quo for the wrong reasons.

“It’s nostalgia, that’s why people are fighting to keep them,” Sherwood said, “They don’t see the starving horses, they don’t see them dying of dehydration.”

While Sherwood understands the sentimental attachment people have to wild horses, she believes that people don’t realize the pain horses go through as a result of a lack of population control.

“That’s what frustrates me as a horse person,” Sherwood said.