Horse News

New Government Report on Trespass Livestock

Source:  Western Watersheds Project

“For decades our wild horses and burros have been scapegoated as the primary reason for ecological destruction on our western public lands while in reality, the documented destruction has come from private, welfare livestock allowed to graze our land at subsidized prices while far out numbering the federally protected wild equines. 

This may come as a bit of a shock (tongue in cheek) but several of our federal agencies (BLM and USFS for example) are critically ate up with collusion and cronyism leading to a system of ‘good ole boy’ favoritism towards federally subsidized welfare grazing with little or no control YET the agencies, along with their welfare ranching buddies, point fingers at the wild horses and burros for grazing damage while they hold actual research at bay that verifies it is their private cows and sheep that are doing the damage and NOT the wild horses and burros.

Instead of reducing or eliminated grazing permits the BLM and USFS spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to attack, harass, capture, abuse, torture, experiment upon, warehouse and even sell horses and burros off to slaughter AGAINST the will of American taxpayers and  politicians.

Although today’s installment does not address wild horses and burros specifically it speaks to the problem that is used as an excuse for the corrupt agencies to illegally remove the protected equines from public lands while welfare cattle and sheep run amok.  It is all so screwed up that it is difficult for a sane mind to wrap itself around, but for the sake of the wild horses and burros we need to “get it” and continue to fight and speak on their behalf.  Become conversant on the subject, please, and ensure that all who you know are equally aware as it is only through the force of numbers will we be able to win this war.  Keep the faith my friends and keep on keeping on.” ~ R.T.

July 29, 2016
Online Messenger #335

photo by Jonathan Ratner

photo by Jonathan Ratner

A recently released report from the Government Accountability Office conclusively found what many WWP members already suspected: 1) Trespass livestock grazing is a pervasive problem; 2) It causes widespread ecological damage on public lands; 3) Land management agencies don’t adequately document these violations; and 4) Forest Service trespass fees are too low to serve as a deterrent. These facts add up to a very grim picture about illegal grazing activities on the lands owned and cherished by all of us.

WWP has been documenting trespass livestock grazing for years, reporting observations of cows and sheep in the wrong pastures, staying too long on an allotment, and on sensitive areas that are supposed to be protected from damaging hooves. These types of reports don’t get taken seriously and the agencies – despite BLM regulations requiring them to take action – often just deal with permittees through a casual conversation rather than formal documentation.

The GAO report verifies that the agencies are intimidated by dealing with high-profile repeat offenders and anti-government protestors, leading to a cycle of increased trespass grazing. The GAO found that even when the agencies do deal with trespassers, the penalties assessed are often too low to act as a deterrent.  This is especially true for the Forest Service where the penalty for trespass grazing may be even less than the cost of permitted grazing elsewhere!  Some ranchers consider these penalties “the cost of doing business” – within a business model that already steals value from our public trust lands.

As if these findings weren’t bad enough, add them to the fact that the GAO found much the same thing in 1990. The agencies largely ignored the government’s recommendations then; will they pay any heed now?

The report is a useful update on the general status of this overlooked issue, and it is due to the hard work of WWP staff in D.C. that this report was requested by Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Congressman Grijalva released his own press statement on the GAO findings. Grijalva stated “federal agencies’ first responsibility is to ensure the public receives a fair return for the use of public land. Right-wing anti-government rhetoric should not prevent agencies from enforcing laws written to protect the environment and economy of Western states.”

Thank you, Congressman Grijalva. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

32 replies »

  1. There is a legal term for how the BLM operates. It is “Regulatory Capture”. Regulatory capture is a form of political corruption that occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or special concerns of interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating. Regulatory capture is a form of government failure; it creates an opening for firms to behave in ways injurious to the public (e.g., producing negative externalities). The agencies are called “captured agencies”.


  2. In this 15-minute audio presentation, Mike Hudak explains how ranchers use politicians to intimidate land managers from the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management into providing rancher-friendly livestock management that is often detrimental to wildlife. Hudak cites passages from his book Western Turf Wars: The Politics of Public Lands Ranching that illuminate the topic.


  3. The BLM wild horse roundup continues: follow the money
    By Jack Ferm

    About 500 million acres, or about 20 percent, of the nation’s land are under control of the Department of the Interior, perhaps one of the most corrupt government agencies notwithstanding the IRS … but that’s another story.

    The Department of Interior’s No. 2 official, Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles, served 10 months in prison for lying to a Senate committee about his relationship with Jack Abramoff, with whom the agency had strong ties. But even worse are the allegations of sexual misconduct, drug use, and comfortable ties to the energy industry and its rewards, leaving no room in their agenda for our wild horses, which by law they are mandated to protect.

    Agency employees responsible for collecting royalties paid by oil and gas companies using public land cut inside deals for private financial rewards, money that never reached the U.S. Treasury, along with lavish gifts. Just how much money ever made it to the U.S. government is a big question. A bigger question is “How much did not?”
    The agency is tasked with maximizing oil and gas royalties while also protecting the environment. But as this administration especially has shown, it can’t manage a grapefruit planting on even one acre.

    The BLM administers nearly 18,000 permits and leases held by ranchers who graze livestock on public lands.

    The BLM permits 12.4 million animal unit months (AUMs), but only about 9 million AUMs were billed in 2012, and the average during recent years is only about 8 million AUMs. An AUM is the unit of measure for livestock grazing and equates to forage needed to support one cow/calf pair or five ewes and their lambs.

    There are about 800,000 livestock operators and cattle producers in the United States. Of those, fewer than 21,000 benefit from the Forest Service and BLM grazing programs in the West.


  4. The fate of these Wild Burros, which have been dubbed as “Nuisance Burros”, is unknown at this point in time.

    Are they still out there, in the wild, or…
    have they already been captured and removed?
    If so….where have they been taken?

    Eagle Lake Field Office
    Public lands managed by the Eagle Lake Field Office cover approximately one million acres in northeastern California and northwestern Nevada

    CA-N050-2015-03 CX Wild horse and burro Removal of Nuisance Burros on Private Land Stony Creek Ranch
    Contact Farris, Patrick
    530.252.5319 In Progress 10/14/2014 NHA Eagle Lake 2015


    • Louie-
      Partial answer to your question is below. The BLM captures and/or authorizes ranchers to capture our wild horses and burros without public notification or oversight. As if what they DO announce isn’t bad enough, what they don’t announce is even worse. No public notification was given for the capture/removal of these 22 burros from Twin Peaks a few years ago.

      10/2/2012 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BF1AAAAAD
      1/31/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BG1IIIIAG
      2/12/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BG1HHHHAG
      2/12/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BG1IHIHAG
      2/13/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BG1IIIIAG
      11/18/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BM1AAAAAD
      2/12/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BF1IIIIAG
      1/31/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BF1AAAAAD
      1/31/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BF1IIIIAG
      1/31/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BG1AAAAAD
      2/12/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BG1AAAAAD
      2/13/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BF1HHHHAG
      2/13/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BF1IIIIAG
      2/25/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BG1AAAAKD
      3/5/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BG1IIIIAG
      11/18/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BF1AAAAAD
      11/18/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BF1AAAAAG
      11/18/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BF1AAAAKR
      11/18/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BM1AAAAAD
      11/18/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BM1AAAAAG
      11/18/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BM1AAAAAG
      11/18/2013 (CA0242) Twin Peaks Food Trap BF1AAAAAG


  5. How many of these captives are even still alive?
    It doesn’t take long to get “3 Strikes”…especially with internet adoptions

    Surprise Field Office Wild Horse capture and removal
    WHY did they leave their Herd Management Area?
    How many permitted livestock were on their Herd Management Area?

    Litchfield Ca. BLM Corrals Offering Wild Horses For Adoption
    December 18, 2014!Litchfield-Ca-BLM-Corrals-Offering-Wild-Horses-For-Adoption/c1q5o/9C4C18B9-71DE-42AE-ACA4-0B5F5BB57029

    The California BLM Litchfield Corrals are now offering for adoption the following, bait-trap captured wild horses. All 16 mustangs are listed as being from the
    Carter Reservoir HMA (Herd Management Area), but were off HMA and captured on private lands at the request of those land owners.

    Because of the severe drought, and the lack of forage many wild horses have strayed off their HMAs. 5 were captured east of the Carter HMA and 11 were trapped west of the Carter HMA. It is not known if all of these branded wild horses are from the Carter Reservoir herd or migrated from adjacent herds as no DNA testing has been done and at this time none is being scheduled.

    We will update photos and try to add better ones as we get them. The weather has been a huge obstacle, with wind, rain & snow plus trying to schedule to get photos taken between all the projects going on there at the corrals, like gelding the stallions has been difficult.

    If you would like more photos please go to the JOIN page, and fill out the contact form requesting more photos or go to and send us a private message.


  6. This isn’t terribly surprising…

    A few years ago, after the disastrous wildfire in the Twin Peaks HMA, some colleagues and I read an article in a local newspaper. The man quoted in the article was talking about moving his sheep – two months AFTER the field office had announced there would be no more grazing in the area, to allow for some natural healing of the landscape.
    So what did my colleagues and I do? We tattled. You damn right we did. Our head honcho contacted the field office and let them know this guy still had animals up there.
    After some back and forth, Honcho was informed the sheep guy had a ‘trailing permit’. So no punitive measures were taken. No wonder the guy was so comfortable being quoted in the press.
    Head Honcho does the homework; she knows the grazing leases in this area, by leasers, how many animals, what kind of animals and how long those animals are allowed up there. Lease violations are rampant, and apparently, quite normal.
    One additional snivel:
    Read an article I from the Salt Lake Tribune a few years back regarding threats against the lives of BLM Rangers by Public Land users. In the article, they wrote about one ranger who ‘patrolled’ 1M acres of leased land. You have to wonder, first, how accurate his assessments are (a million acres is a whole lotta land) and second, how willing he would be to report trespass when he’s so obviously vulnerable.
    That also calls in to question how accurate wild equine population assessments are: in many visits to Twin Peaks, an absolutely huge swathe of Public lands, we have seen – collectively – perhaps half a dozen rangers over the years since 2010.


  7. I find it ironic and insulting how a number of self-proclaimed “conservatives” support welfare ranching (AKA: corporate socialism). Corporate socialism is still socialism regardless if the proponent is cleverly disguised under the cloak of a Gadsden flag. The whole entitlement attitude that they sport seems contradictory towards the patriotic spirit that they also boast about. You can’t have it both ways. Patriotism and corporate socialism don’t mix.


    • It is rather just corporatism, plain and simple. True socialism (if for that you understand a fully-funded social policy like in western European countries, i.e. France, Sweden, United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy…) is a completely different thing and has nothing to do with this.

      The campy conservative politicos that defend this don’t give a damn (and probably don’t understand either) whether it is socialism or capitalism… they just know they have to suck up to the agribusiness lobby and spew their pre-programmed talking points like if they were talking dolls.


      • I was referring to the method of socializing losses and privatizing gains in welfare ranching. And yes, I also see how corporatism goes hand-in-hand with what a number of politicians are proposing. Very unfortunate.


  8. The thing that many on this site should be digesting is the fact that the data analysis (and sometimes lawsuits that pull land from grazing) is done by lil bulldog organizations like WWP and The Center for Biological Diversity. When we fail to support these folks, using every penny they have for the WORK (not freebies like calendars and shopping bags to pull in donations) we fail utterly in the quest to get proper scientific documentation of the damage and the resulting GAO reports that expose the corruption and illegality. Our yelling about the horses themselves is lost in the general noise because the picture is composed of OTHER parts. Support these folks!! They are working on a shoestring but their exposure is greatly feared by the Big Cow and Sheep groups. We need to look forward in where to go, not just analyze the past.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. YES! Western Watersheds Project DID this work, everyone. Pay attention to this and give them some support—I see no one posting praise for this slogging, long term documentation, which is the ONLY reason the GAO made the report.


    • Yes – they do great work! As opposed to many many so-called conservation organizations. I agree – they sure do deserve donations AND much credit for all the hard slogging work they accomplish. But does ANYONE in government ever actually read & comprehend the GAO reports? It doesn’t appear so – there seems to be no consequence for either the BLM or the trespass ranchers – either before or after these reports are made public.


  10. It’s hard to know where best to send support, but I have been tremendously impressed by the work of the WWP. Point taken. 🙂 They arrested a woman for trying to help a horse in need, but let the ranchers do what they will. They just have given up fighting, because it appears to be a function in name only when the rancher goes over the head of the agency to their favorite corrupt politician. Again, where is the Interior Secretary in all of this? A figurehead.


  11. Are our government agencies ABOVE the law?
    ApparentlyTHEY think they are and have declared this in an official document.

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has publicly published the statement that they are above the law and the congressional LAW DOES NOT PERTAIN TO THEM! BLM stated (see link below): “The … [Congressional] Act …is not pertinent to the overall management of the wild horse and burro populations by the BLM and USFS. In general, it protects the wild horses and burros from such actions by the general populous.”

    So BLM is telling us that the laws of the United States Congress are written for the general public and that BLM and USFS do not have to follow the law … plain and simple that IS what they are saying.

    BLM policies are simply plans and decisions that have been made by the BLM and are ONLY policies and plans and decisions – nothing more. They are not laws of the United States. Any policy established must be within the outline of the umbrella of the law it is required to follow. A policy is nothing more than a plan and is illegal if it does not follow the law of the United States.

    I was taught that the law was to be followed and that if it needed to be changed (and many do) then that was the right and responsibility of Americans to do so but for any agency (and employee of any agency) to disregard the law for political and financial reasons was illegal and TREASONOUS. The BLM agency and the corrupt employees who have facilitated these illegal activities have jumped the boundaries of the law and must be made to pay the consequences.

    Click to access FinalVersion_EA.pdf


    • Apparently the Department of the Interior needs a history lesson: laws where created principally to keep the GOVERNMENT and GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES on a short leash. True, there needs to be “law and order” among the populace, but it needs to start from the top down. The elites MUST be held to the same standard at the very least.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Between the wild horse numbers not even showing on the various states graphs and the “count” of wild horses only estimated – typical BLM! Would be interesting to see the corporation (I’m assuming) names of some of the really big allotments. Possible? These maps really show it like it is. And the poor little burros get even more of the dirty end of the stick – if that’s possible! Thanks GG


      • This might take some time to learn your way around the site but here are two more very important tools that will give you the information about who owns the allotments and the numbers of livestock authorized for each allotment.
        And here is the interactive map of our public lands that shows both the original herd areas and the current herd management areas and the allotments.
        Both of these sites may seem complicated but will be worth your time to learn your way around in them.


  12. “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”

    ― Theodore Roosevelt


  13. 2014
    Ranchers Move Against Wild Horses in Utah

    Early in April of 2014, Iron County Utah commissioners and ranchers gave the BLM an ultimatum: Come up with an immediate plan to remove wild horses from the area or residents will do it themselves. As drought damages rangelands in the west, ranchers are scapegoating federally protected wild horses for the damage of the range when in reality millions of cattle are permitted to graze on our public lands.

    Between July 28, 2014 and August 5, 2014, the BLM conducted a roundup in the Bible Springs Complex, removing 143 wild horses from the Blawn Wash HMA and 36 wild horses from outside the Sulphur Spring HMA.

    On September 5, 2014, the U.S. District Court District of Utah granted
    The Cloud Foundation,
    Return to Freedom,
    wild horse adopter and advocate Lisa Friday and
    photographer John Steele
    were granted the right to intervene in the lawsuit.

    We all want happiness for our friends, our families and ourselves. We all want Peace. This is our connection.”

    “My hope is that my images inspires an appreciation of the subjects and their splendor and that you see them as an extension of yourself or a place you would like to share with family and loved ones. When I look through the view finder, I am looking for everyone. I hope that my photography influence you to become a better steward and an advocate for the health and well being of all earth’s splendors.

    John Steele


    • Absolutely beautiful pictures – Doesn’t it seem odd that we keep hearing about these skinny, dehydrated wild horses – but where are they when these great photographers are out there taking pictures?


  14. 11-25-2014
    EAGLE LAKE BLM Field Office (NE Ca / NW Nv)
    Buffalo Meadows Ranch Bait Trap
    Approx: 20 Burros removed in 2013
    Burros were following feed truck
    Permittee just closed the gate

    Apparently these wild burros were enticed onto private property and trapped when the rancher admittedly allowed the burros to follow the feed truck and then just closed the gate behind the burros and they were trapped?
    This enticement is illegal per the Wild Horse and Burro act and verified by this excerpt from the BLM.

    Sec. 4. If wild free-roaming horses or burros stray from public lands onto privately owned land, the owners of such land may inform the nearest Federal Marshall or agent of the Secretary, who shall arrange to have the animals removed. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a private landowner from maintaining wild free-roaming horses or burros on his private lands, or lands leased from the Government, if he does so in a manner that protects them from harassment, and if the animals were not willfully removed or enticed from the public lands.

    Enticing wild horses or burros onto private land is in violation of the wild horse and burro act that states:
    Any person who-
    1. willfully removes or attempts to remove a wild free- roaming horse or burro from the public lands, without authority from the Secretary and/or
    2. willfully violates a regulation issued pursuant to this Act, shall be subject to a fine of not more than $2,000, or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. Any person so charged with such violation by the Secretary may be tried and sentenced by any United States commissioner or magistrate designated for that purpose by the court by which he was appointed, in the same manner and subject to the same conditions as provided for in section 3401, title 18, United States Code.

    Although private landowners have the right to use and enjoy their property free from incursions, private landowners adjacent to federal regions are required by law to fence out unwanted animals.

    Subsequently a call was made to nearby Palomino Valley BLM holding facility and the BLM employee admitted that a truckload of Burros had been brought in within the last 6 months …all Sale Authority. He didn’t have the exact data, but they were approximately 7 Jennies and 7 Jacks.

    Removal of Nuisance Burros from Stony Creek, Heller and Buffalo Ranches
    Allotment or Area Name:
    Stony Creek Ranch-Deep Cut Grazing Allotment
    Heller and Buffalo Ranches-Twin Peaks Grazing Allotment


  15. And Maggie – and anyone else that is trying to learn … here is another great website … go down to the bottom third of the report for the maps which should help you see what is going on with welfare ranching on our wild horse and burro legal lands.
    These tools are important to help us learn and understand what is going on with our public lands vs our wild ones. Keep learning … we are all learning and for the RIGHT reasons.

    Click to access FinalWildHorseandBurroReportWithStateMaps10-26-12.pdf


    • Thanks – I did look at those maps – I think you may have shown that link in another comment – Boggles the mind how huge some of those grazing allotments are and how TINY the HAs and HMAs are compared! There is much said how the wild horses & burros don’t “make” money! But frankly, the little amount that these ranchers actually pay for our public land tells us our public land doesn’t “make” money from them! And the delight anyone gets out of seeing these wonderful wild creatures sure does beat watching a bunch of cows stand around & create manure, while they devastate the environment.

      Liked by 1 person

    • THANK YOU Grandma Gregg
      This is an excellent report
      Here are just a few excerpts

      A report presented to the National Academy
      of Sciences Committee to Review the
      Management of Wild Horses and Burros
      Prepared by:
      Animal Welfare Institute
      October 2012

      Click to access FinalWildHorseandBurroReportWithStateMaps10-26-12.pdf

      The BLM should consult with population modelers, equid biologists, and persons
      with expertise in burro population demographics and behavior to develop a burro
      population model. At present, no model is available to predict the impact of management
      actions on burros.

      Management incompetency, agency structural inadequacies, and procedural failings:
      •BLM has demonstrated a lack of competency to be the primary agency
      responsible for wild horse and burro management

      The procedure used by the BLM to allocate forage between wild horses and
      burros and livestock is, at best, unclear, and, at worst, illegal.

      The wild horse and burro advisory board is in need of reform.

      The BLM does not understand, fails to investigate, and rarely considers the
      impact of its management actions on wild horse and burro herd social
      structure, band dynamics, reproductive potential, or other important
      individual, band, herd, or population behaviors when making or implementing
      management decisions.

      At all levels, BLM compliance with National Environmental Policy Act
      (NEPA) is deficient and inadequate, particularly in regard to its management
      of wild horses and burros.



    Review of NAS report ( a few excerpts)
    by Jaime Jackson, AANHCP Executive Director, June 9, 2013

    Not surprisingly, too, the report echoes the interminable, annoying and baseless indictment by BLM bureaucrats that wild horses have singlehandedly overpopulated public lands, stealing valuable forage from the welfare ranchers – good old boys who think wild horse country somehow belongs to them alone. Excuse the pun, but this is all “bull”. Count the dung piles in wild horse country, and cattle beat horses (and other wildlife) 1,000,000 to 1. Who is the true “overpopulator”
    The fact is, there is no credible study or other evidence, now or ever, supporting the BLM’s contention. Government “counts” defy basic math and there is no corroboration by independent observers who themselves can be trusted. Arguably, every one of those 51,000 wild horses now being confined in long term government corrals should be restored immediately to the HMAs where they came from and belong.


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