Update-Part Three: Whistle Blowers Finally Expose Conditions at Wild Horse Sanctuary

From the From Salvation to Starvation: A three-part Journal special report series

“…the report described an open pit on the ranch containing more than 25 horse carcasses…”

Late last summer, Boyd Stambach, who’d been driving past the ranch of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros near Lantry for years, finally had enough.

 A tractor lifts the body of an emaciated horse Sept. 13 at the ranch of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros near Lantry.   Courtesy photo


A tractor lifts the body of an emaciated horse Sept. 13 at the ranch of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros near Lantry.
Courtesy photo

The horses at the ranch seemed especially thin; the pastures were worn down to the dirt; and there seemed to be no hay stored for the winter.

Stambach, who manages a feed store in nearby Eagle Butte, also knew about the organization’s financial troubles. He said the ISPMB owed the feed store enough money that he had quit doing business with the ISPMB and its president, Karen Sussman, and he knew a number of hay sellers who were owed money by the organization.

“I just decided, to hell with it, I’m making a call,” Stambach later told the Journal.

Stambach complained to the state Animal Industry Board, which sent a veterinarian to the ranch on Sept. 14. A report of the visit, which was unknown to the public at the time, described thin horses, some with overgrown hooves, and some nosing through their own manure in search of hay.

Even worse, the report described an open pit on the ranch containing more than 25 horse carcasses.

“Ownership does not appear to have the means, money, labor, and facilities to support and manage a population of animals this size,” the report said, “and does not appear to have adequate plans to assure the future of this herd. Based on my findings as outlined in this report, it is my determination that animal neglect is present at this facility.”

The finding of neglect laid a foundation for a potential criminal charge. The information was turned over to the state veterinarian and local prosecutors for their consideration while a sheriff made daily visits to the ranch to make sure the horses received food.

Meanwhile, ISPMB employee Colleen Burns, who had been living and working on the ranch since moving there from Arizona in April 2015, was gathering her own evidence of the deteriorating conditions.

Burns had initially come to the ranch seeking to devote her life to the care of wild horses. At the time, Burns recalled, she had great respect for Sussman.

“I was her No. 1 fan,” Burns said during recent interviews. “I considered her one of the world’s foremost experts on wild horses.”

As part of Burns’ compensation package from the ISPMB, she moved into a trailer house in the main ranch yard, just 100 yards or so from Sussman’s double-wide trailer.

It didn’t take long after arriving at the ranch for Burns to notice a lack of breeding controls and financial struggles. Then, this past spring, according to Burns, more than 100 foals were born. The spring grass was quickly eaten, and hay deliveries became sporadic as Sussman struggled to raise money and find hay sellers who hadn’t already cut ties with her because of unpaid bills.

Burns later claimed that horses began dying of starvation or related causes, and she said 30 or more died from June to September as she pleaded unsuccessfully with Sussman to seek outside help.

Burns worried many more horses would die during the coming winter months without a major intervention, and by the end of September there had been no such intervention, despite the damning report from the veterinarian. Burns saw no long-term plan emerging from Sussman or local authorities to keep the horses fed, so she decided to go public with her concerns.

At the end of September, Burns posted a written narrative along with photos and videos on the internet. She was promptly fired, but the images and footage of emaciated horses were reported by the Journal and other media outlets. A court-approved impounding of the ISPMB’s horses soon followed.

The sheriffs of Dewey and Ziebach counties, which have a border straddled by the ranch, are now caring for the horses on the ranch at the expense of taxpayers. So far, the two counties have spent $70,000 on hay.

What others knew

The shocking imagery released by Burns caused many to wonder why nobody intervened sooner, before the situation grew so dire. The photographs showed some horses appearing nearly skeletal, with others that had overgrown hooves, and a few that appeared to have been eviscerated by wild animals.

Cheryl Rowe, of Rapid City, a former ISPMB supporter and board member, said two factors that worked against an intervention were the ranch’s isolation — it is 150 miles from Rapid City, the nearest major population center — and Sussman’s complete control over all aspects of the organization.

Rowe served on the ISPMB board for several years and can recall only once when a board meeting was held at the ranch; otherwise, Sussman controlled the board from afar. Sometimes the board consisted of a few people, Rowe said, and sometimes it seemed there were no active members on the board at all. Some board members resided in faraway states and some never visited the ranch.

“All the decisions were kind of hers,” Rowe said of Sussman. “She always put people on the board who trusted her to do the right things and make the right decisions.”

Yet there were a number of people who saw or sensed trouble at the ranch.

The state Animal Industry Board’s first complaint-driven visit to the ranch was in 2012, and two more visits were conducted in March and April this year before the penultimate visit in September. The board declined to release records of the earlier visits to the Journal, but the September report was forced into view as an attachment to the October impounding order. The report said conditions at the ranch had “declined significantly” since the previous visit.

Neighbors said they also knew Sussman was running a shoddy operation, but in the rural farming and ranching culture of the Lantry area, people tried to be neighborly and mind their own business. Shannon DePoy, who owns land adjacent to the ISPMB ranch, kept his concerns to himself until Sussman confronted him one day and demanded to see a summary of the pesticides and fertilizers he applied to his land.

DePoy said the hypocrisy of Sussman’s environmentalism irked him. While trying to be a careful steward of his own land, he said, he’d watched Sussman’s pastures turn bare. Her land was so overgrazed and littered with manure and overrun by burrowing prairie dogs that after heavy rains, DePoy noticed the runoff from the ISPMB ranch was black with filth.

“She just could not see what was obvious in front of her face,” DePoy told the Journal.

DePoy eventually complained to officials at the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, but according to DePoy, they claimed a lack of jurisdiction because Sussman’s privately owned ranch is within the boundaries of the Cheyenne River Reservation.

People farther away from the ranch also had inklings of its problems.

In 2013, after Sussman acknowledged the deaths of more than 30 horses during Winter Storm Atlas, former ISPMB member Cathy Ritlaw said she pleaded with Sussman to build berms or other shelters or windbreaks for the horses. Ritlaw, who runs a small wild-horse sanctuary in Arizona, said the high death toll from the storm was an indication of poor infrastructure on the ranch.

Ritlaw said Sussman was in denial and refused to take action.

“I knew three years ago that something would come to a head someday and the truth would come out,” Ritlaw said. “I just had no idea anything could’ve been this horrible.”

What’s ahead

Beyond casting wild-horse sanctuaries in a negative light, the revelations about the ISPMB have provided ammunition for those who think some wild horses would be better off in slaughterhouses than sanctuaries.

There are no horse slaughter plants in the United States, largely because of successful activism against them. Since news of the poor conditions at the ISPMB ranch broke, numerous commenters on the Journal’s website have labeled the case a prime example of the need for slaughtering options.

“This is the reason that not allowing slaughter in the US is a fool’s game,” one commenter wrote. “These horses would be better off in a dog food can than wasting away on the prairie.”

Sussman is trying to avoid that. She has reportedly allowed some horses to be adopted and has submitted a required management plan to the local prosecutors and the state Animal Industry Board seeking the return of 400 horses to her control.

The court-approved impounding order gives Sussman until Friday to produce proof of 18 months of feed or funding. Last week, Sussman began a daily email campaign to ISPMB supporters seeking to raise $150,000.

Based on the judgment of prosecutors and the state Animal Industry Board regarding her management plan and funding, Sussman could earn the return of some, all or none of her requested 400 horses. Any horses that are not returned to her after Friday will be put up for adoption until Dec. 1, when any remaining horses will be sold at a public auction and likely sent to foreign slaughter plants.

Stambach, whose complaint brought scrutiny to the ISPMB ranch back in September, does not want to see horses needlessly killed but also does not want to see them back in Sussman’s possession.

“There are some bleeding-heart horse people across the country with deep pockets,” Stambach said. “Hopefully, she doesn’t raise enough money that she just gets to start this all over again with 400 head.”

No surrender

The Journal made a surprise visit to Sussman’s ranch Oct. 4, five days after the disturbing images from her ranch went public and seven days before authorities seized control of the horses. She declined to speak on the record but allowed photographs of horses visible from the main yard of the ranch.

“Do they look like they’re starving?” she asked in a defiant tone.

The horses looked healthy. But what, the Journal asked, did she have to say about those pictures of emaciated and dying horses? She declined to speak about that.

And she appeared oblivious to the reality that without the donations of hay inspired by media coverage of her situation, the horses at the ranch would have had little to eat.

Besides firing Burns, Sussman also fired one of her two ranch hands, leaving only herself and the other ranch hand to care for 810 horses. At one point during the Journal’s visit to the ranch, Sussman slipped and was blown over by a strong wind. For several moments, she sat on the ground rubbing an aching knee.

Sussman finally broke her silence after a judge approved the impounding of the ISPMB horses on Oct. 11. In a lengthy written statement she provided to the Journal, she tried to defend her legacy.

“I have dedicated my life, my fortune, and my reputation to the protection of wild horses throughout the United States,” she wrote.

The statement acknowledged that “some” animal deaths had occurred on the ISPMB ranch but said the circumstances of the deaths were “wildly misrepresented” and Burns’ accusations contained “significant falsehoods.”

Yet the statement did not identify the falsehoods, or say how many horses died, or offer an explanation for the deaths.

Instead, Sussman used the statement to cast herself as a martyr. She referenced past occasions when she used her own money to pay the ISPMB’s expenses, and years when she went without a salary, and times when she sold personal property to raise money for hay.

Those sound like selfless sacrifices, but Burns, the whistle-blowing former ranch employee, said they also reflect a problem.

“The organization is not Karen Sussman,” Burns said. “And I think she forgot that somewhere along the line.”

http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/whistle-blowers-finally-expose-conditions-at-wild-horse-sanctuary/article_800dc7d6-cd86-5b8a-af69-bbbc4551c069.html

30 comments on “Update-Part Three: Whistle Blowers Finally Expose Conditions at Wild Horse Sanctuary

  1. This sounds like too many people were aware – but hesitated! Seems like that happens a lot in other abuse & starvation cases. There should be a middle ground between crying wolf & just closing your eyes!

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  2. To me this represents yet another sad abuse of nonprofit status, including hand-picking an inactive and easily led board of directors while keeping a single person in charge forever — not how a nonprofit public charity best serves the public interest. In this case, a pox on all their houses. Yet again the innocent animals suffer, and will continue to as they are dislocated and some probably will end up slaughtered as they pass from hand to hand. All for what seems to be “research” of so little value even Princeton backed out long ago?

    The lesson here for all of us is to pay attention to how nonprofits you might want to support actually run their operations, support those that are being responsible and ethical, and promptly report those who are not. Kind of like grazing permits on public lands, nonprofit status is a privilege, not a right, and comes with appended legal responsibilities from the officers of the board of directors.

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      • Maggie, there are posts elsewhere on this site with links, but it seems Princeton did study the ISPMB herds perhaps one summer (?) as part of a student thesis, but the study size was considered too small so wasn’t published. As I understand it, there was no formal research study undertaken under the auspices of Princeton for the ISMPB ongoing “research” by Karen, which also remains unpublished, and at a minimum would be little more than field observations, not a long-term, funded, credible, peer-reviewed project. The stark truth that even Karen didn’t have an accurate population count when the sheriffs arrived points to more to imaginary “research” than anything Princeton would sanction.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Icy – I supposed it was an ongoing project – assumed that from the ISPMB emails! You know what they say if you “assume” something!

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  3. I don’t think Marybeth will mind my reposting her comment. We all should remember WHY those Wild Horses were removed from their natural environments in the first place and WHO pushed to have them removed.

    Marybeth Devlin Nov 6, 2016 12:08pm
    It is a struggle to operate a sanctuary nowadays. There are so many needs, and costs keep rising. Often, a sanctuary must make do until it can make good. Like other rescues, ISPMB found itself urgently asking for donations but not receiving. Sadly, after the allegations surfaced, a number of persons rushed to judgment. Even now, they are telling the public not to donate to ISPMB. But why? There was no misuse of funds — just insufficient funds. ISPMB needs funds. That’s the problem, and it is readily solvable by donations.

    We must remember that ISPMB took in wild horses that lacked legal protection — such as those from Sheldon, Virginia Range, and White Sands — and whose fate would have been slaughter. ISPMB preserved unique bloodlines and rare genetics that would otherwise have been extinguished. ISPMB conducted important research that should inform wild-horse management on the range. Now it is ISPMB who needs to be rescued. And time is of the essence to save this important organization, its good works, and its wild horses.

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  4. My previous comment landed in the spam box. Someone posted an excellent comment on one of the original articles and it deserves to be shared. She spoke to the core issue and that is WHY those Wild Horses were removed from their natural environments in the first place and WHO pushed to have them removed. THAT is where the Public outrage should be directed.

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    • Youre right, Louie – the REASON those horses were in that sanctuary was the agency that wants to be rid of them.
      I cannot imagine what it takes to run and keep running any rescue or sanctuary – there are far more animals “out there” needing to be rescued than there are places for them. As I said above – too many people were hesitant to SAY anything – unfortunately thats how any kind of abuse, whether its kids or animals, continues to be hidden away. But its easy to cast a stone, right?

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    • Louie, I appreciate your passion, but your post above this indicated most (all?) the ISPMB horses came from lands that were NOT HMAs, and they were not protected so were removed. The White Sands horses you can read about in an excellent little book called “Nobody’s Horses” which illuminates the mixed politics and feelings of those involved, as well as the mixed horses. Since this is a bombing range a good argument could be made it was more humane to remove them than to subject them to military target practice, in areas where no public is allowed.

      That said, nothing excuses Karen and ISMPB from the consequences of their own actions, and perhaps inactions. Those horses suffered, period, and deserved better. Blaming their original removals for the much later suffering at ISPMB is clearly at fault for is illogical, in my view.

      Liked by 1 person

      • IcySpots, there is so much more to the story about the Sheldon Wild Horses…SO much more. The Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act states that “they are to be protected wherever found”
        My point is that rather than attacking someone who did TRY to salvage something, our collective energy would be better spent in stopping the captures/removals and
        in working to return them to their legally designated habitats. They should have never been removed in the first place. Our energy should be placed in helping those Horses at ISPMB get adopted and not land in the hands of kill buyers. The WH&B foes just love it when advocates attack each other.

        Interview: Craig Downer & Elyse Gardner: Plight of the Wild Horses by Richard Whittaker, Aug 30, 2011

        CD: And they’re supposed to be protected even if they do go off the public lands. Our government is authorized to establish mutual agreements under Section 6 of the act. That’s one thing I remember about my work with Wild Horse Annie. She had established an apparently solid agreement with the Sheldon National Wildlife Reserve, that the horses would be recognized in perpetuity as an integral part of the Sheldon wildlife community. Sheldon had a magnificent herd of horses that remained for nearly four decades thanks to her agreement. The officials there used to say, yes, the horses have been here for centuries and people love to see them, and they integrate well with the pronghorn and other wildlife. There were studies done by Jo Meeker at University of Nevada proving that they harmoniously exist with the pronghorn antelope. But recently there seems to be a vendetta. Basically we are talking about a war of values here.
        http://www.conversations.org/story.php?sid=283

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      • IcySpots, I tried to answer your post but my comment landed in the moderation box again. Posting the links to various articles and/or documents sometimes alert the spam detector.
        I’ll try another approach:

        IcySpots, there is so much more to the story about the Sheldon Wild Horses…SO much more. The Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act states that “they are to be protected wherever found”
        My point is that rather than attacking someone who did TRY to salvage something, our collective energy would be better spent in stopping the captures/removals and
        in working to return them to their legally designated habitats. They should have never been removed in the first place. Our energy should be placed in helping those Horses at ISPMB get adopted and not land in the hands of kill buyers. The WH&B foes just love it when advocates attack each other.

        PLIGHT OF THE WILD HORSES
        By Richard Whittaker, August 30, 2011
        Interview: Craig Downer & Elyse Gardner

        CD: And they’re supposed to be protected even if they do go off the public lands. Our government is authorized to establish mutual agreements under Section 6 of the act. That’s one thing I remember about my work with Wild Horse Annie. She had established an apparently solid agreement with the Sheldon National Wildlife Reserve, that the horses would be recognized in perpetuity as an integral part of the Sheldon wildlife community. Sheldon had a magnificent herd of horses that remained for nearly four decades thanks to her agreement. The officials there used to say, yes, the horses have been here for centuries and people love to see them, and they integrate well with the pronghorn and other wildlife. There were studies done by Jo Meeker at the University of Nevada proving that they harmoniously exist with the pronghorn antelope. But recently there seems to be a vendetta. Basically we are talking about a war of values here.

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      • Louie, I am not attacking you or any advocates, I was however responding to this bit you posted earlier:

        “We must remember that ISPMB took in wild horses that lacked legal protection — such as those from Sheldon, Virginia Range, and White Sands…”

        It seems arguable whether wild horses were considered to be native species on Sheldon, the official policy seems to indicate not, which was the basis for their removals on what are clearly public lands but not designated HMAs.

        The official Sheldon site indicates wild horses reproduce at higher rates than Mule Deer and Pronghorn… when Mule Deer generally have twins each year, and sometimes triplets!

        They also indicate “Horses and burros removed from Sheldon Refuge are found good homes for adoption” though as we know Stan Palmer did not provide that, but a one-way ticket to hell.

        https://www.fws.gov/sheldonhartmtn/sheldon/horseburro.html

        At least on Sheldon they removed cattle long ago for the same reasons they later removed the wild horses, and this all rests on the argument they are not native but invasive species.

        The WHB Act indicates they are to be “considered in the area where presently found…” which isn’t quite the same as “wherever” they might be found today.

        Regardless, while it was good ISPMB took them in, and unfortunate they were apparently legally removed, none of that excuses what is happening to them now.

        And there’s this: what if the whistleblower had kept quiet? The neighbors, the hired help, and the board of directors all either looked away or remained willfully silent. How many more would have died and disappeared this winter without anyone knowing, including even Karen, whose careful research numbers were off by only a couple HUNDRED horses??? ???

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      • IcySpots, I know that you weren’t attacking me. I was referring to the many negative comments that have been circulating. They do more harm than good. Many are coming from questionable sources, who also attack anyone who even dares to disagree or question. This makes me wonder WHY? This isn’t about a kill buyer or an organization that put up a false front. It seems to me that it would be far better to help than to condemn.

        The Sheldon Wild Horses…there is a great deal of documentation on AMERICAN HERDS about them, the Ruby pipeline (that passed through the refuge), and the deals that were made. Posting the links may land me in the spam box again.

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      • Karen HAS been asking for help and the requests definitely had the sound of urgency. It is my understanding that ISPMB lost at least one of its large donors this year due to financial reasons. Any sanctuary can get into trouble fast if donations disappear. There have always been Horses offered for adoption, but it is understandable that she is careful as to who adopts them.

        Elaine Nash
        October 13, 2016

        The SD states attorney called me last night, and we spent two and a half hours discussing this situation and possible solutions for the horses We are working on a better plan- but none of the options are ideal. Still gathering information. I’ll be working with the SD officials throughout this ordeal, and will provide details of a plan as soon as I can get it put together. Am currently still deeply involved in helping equine victims of Hurricane Matthew- some of which are still completely stranded on railroad tracks, in pens with water rising, in barns that are almost submerged, etc. Anyone who’d like to help the SD wild horses is welcome to watch my page for updates on how we think we can best help prevent the slaughter of hundreds of them.

        There are hundreds of horses available for adoption, and unless the Court orders otherwise, those that are not adopted will be put to death. There are horses available in almost every age range, size, and color.

        A large number of the mares are sterile from PZP treatments.

        Upon a full count (810 horses), and close inspection by authorities, most of the horses at the sanctuary have been determined by officials to be in good condition. However, many will need hooves trimmed as soon as possible, 10% are underweight, and some have special needs such as advanced age, blindness, lameness, or are extremely underweight.
        Most of the underweight horses are of the advanced ages of 20-30+ years old.
        https://rtfitchauthor.com/2016/10/08/if-you-starve-an-animal-to-death-you-are-a-criminal/

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      • And those responsible for pushing to REMOVE the Sheldon Wild Horses
        NATIONAL HORSE &BURRO RANGELAND MANAGEMENT COALITION
        http://www.wildhorserange.org/uploads/2/6/0/7/26070410/nhbrmc_factsheet4_nativewildlife-may.16.pdf

        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

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      • IcySpots, I see the Horses as the victims and even though it might not be logical, I can’t bring myself to throw stones at the person who tried to help them. We don’t know all the answers as to what happened or how it happened. All I know is that HELP is needed.

        Chaz – The Mustang from White Sands, New Mexico
        November 6, 2011
        http://www.equitrekking.com/articles/entry/white-sands-mustangs-new-mexico/

        Life changed for these horses as a result of the Manhattan Project and the plans to detonate the first atom bomb in the area in 1945. The Army took over nearly two million acres of the White Sands area and fenced them off from the public. This two million acres housed most of the horses and several watering holes.

        Slowly, some of the horses in one particular group began dying off. In order to try and relieve the pressure on the area and the growing size of the various groups, some horses were captured and sold off to an unknown future. A huge public outcry ensued, and the Army had a PR nightmare building on their hands. Many of these were big, rugged, well built horses that, obviously, could survive in very harsh conditions.

        There was even a legendary band of stallions that would appear out of nowhere and then disappear again. Were they real or phantoms, this was never decided. Visitors to the area, and people living in the nearby town of Alamogordo, would stop and watch these horses race across the dunes and fantasize about these mystical creatures who could run so fast and were so big and strong.

        In reality, these horses did belong to the Army and were not protected by the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (Public Law 92-195). They were not on BLM land, but Army property, which meant they belonged to the Army and could be disposed of as the Army wished. (This position may or may not have withstood a legal challenge but none was forthcoming).

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  5. Wild Horse Annies original rescued herd is among these 400 horses? How sad for these wild horses. I mention again a public webcam is needed for any ‘rescue’ and sanctuary to prove credibility. For example here’s a donkey rescue with just 6 donkeys , they also train service dogs as a charity that gets donations. Here is a link to their webcams. 24/7 anyone can view the donkeys and the 5 webcams on ALL the dogs and puppy areas. https://youtu.be/ZtcdhbZpjgI

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    • But looking at your site, you also rely on donations to run your sanctuary??? I feel that people should step up and adopt, but only for horses that they have funds to care for, for all of their needs-veterinary, farrier, excellent nutrition and possibly even training-for their lifetime. That is the commitment one makes when adopting.

      These horses need homes, not another waystop.

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      • JR, excellent post! It is too easy to scorn people who are concerned but unable to take in horses. To those that can and do, great! For most of us this just isn’t an option. The answer has to include responsible breeding among both domestic and wild horses.

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  6. This is WHY we are fighting so hard to stop the captures and removals from our Public Lands. A sanctuary is only a port in a storm, That’s all it can ever be when it comes to Wild Horses, Wild Burros or any other Wildlife species.

    Well over 22 Million acres have been taken from Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management Areas. The agencies that were supposed protect Wild Horses & Burros have instead done the bidding of private and corporate interests who want them out of the way. The Horses at ISPMB would most likely have been taken to slaughter if Karen Sussman had not stepped in. The taxpayers get the bill and get the shaft as they watch these beautiful herds disappear forever from their public lands. The Buck stops at the top, where decisions are made

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  7. Why would you keep stallions that are blind stallions? Certainly not to breed and live in a wild environment where they were at a severe disadvantage. The stallions are being researched now to determine the cause of the blindness, genetic or??? Despicable that Sussman claims to be preserving a certain strain of mustangs when she obviously had no clear scientific breeding plan. In the wild, a blind stallion would not survive very long. Wild horses need no human intervention to control their numbers if they are left alone in a wild environment with wild predators and natural barriers to contain them in their natural habitat. See Craig Downer’s Wild Horse Conspiracy reports. The whole point of #KeepWildHorsesWild is to stop the massive removals, stop trying to have the public pick up the costs for housing these wild refugees, separated from their native lands and family bands, whether by sanctuaries, rescue groups or private citizens. The government should pay full cost of their lifetime of care like they are doing for the private ranchers that are now offering their ranch land as wild horse sanctuaries. They make more money than cattle or sheep ranching. It’s like double dipping in the tax payer fund. Make the round up contractors rich to remove the horses and then pay the damn ranchers that want the horses removed to care for them. Stupid, inefficient and makes me blazing angry. Anyone that starves a horse, whether wild or not deserves to be punished. Animal cruelty has become a felony in many states, including Oregon, where I live and well should be. Sussman can splutter all she wants, but she let those wild horses suffer excruciatingly painful lives and deaths. We don’t need wild horse adoptions or sanctuaries. We need to reclaim the millions of public lands and let them be free to live out there lives as far away from humans as possible. Kathren Gingers documentary on Cloud and his band in the Pryor mountains is the way for the public to view them, without human intervention. There are more recent articles as this is from 2008 but as far as I see it, the situation has only deteriorated and made it more apparent that we must fight to #KeepWildHorsesWild. http://www.wildhorsepreservation.org/wildlife-ecologists-perspective-0

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  8. Once captured and placed into a sanctuary of any kind they are neither “fish nor fowl”. In the wild blind, or otherwise, many would not make it, that is true. Most probably the problem for many people is that they have a very hard time ending the life of an otherwise healthy animal (we all have read stories of blind Horses that were still loved and valued by their owners). Nature doesn’t operate that way and compassion isn’t part of process. That is the cost of Freedom. We either give up and see our Wild Horses & Burros removed from public lands and placed into artificial zoo-like environments. OR we battle on to keep Viable Healthy Herds on our Public Lands,

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  9. All I read is people and their opinions about what is best for the horses and burros. If these WILD animals had been left alone nature would take it’s course. When humans step in and say what is best the problems begin. I know there are many good people who try to help but Karen Sussman did not do right by these horses however you look at it. If the government (BLM) had not caved to the ranchers and their greed the horses would still be protected. If things keep going as they are there will be no beautiful herds of horses running free across the lands for future generations to see. Anyone who has seen the torture horses endure at slaughter plants know this is not an option! It should be a crime with harsh punishment for anyone who sells horses for slaughter. Instead, it is a big business making many millionaires. This is a very sick world when people make money killing defenseless horses. If our government (for the people) would step up and make it a crime to torture and kill any animal this world would be a much better place to live in. But, MONEY AND POWER is the name of the game! All that is left is for all animal lovers to try to do the best that we can with adopting, donating and keep trying to get laws passed to protect our wild horses and burros and all the wild animals that are being exploited on this earth!

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  10. (from the ISPMB website today)

    “Constant monitoring of the social structures and herd dynamics of ISPMB’s horses continues to give the organization valuable information that will produce an ideal management philosophy based on its intense on the ground observations of wild horse behaviors.

    ISPMB is located on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in north central South Dakota where the wild horses thunder across the prairie – a spectacular view for tourists.

    The International Society for the Protection of Mustang and Burros is an effective international leader in our field because we have earned the respect and credibility of the many diverse participants in the Wild Horse and Burro program. Our approach to problem solving is unique amongst organizations. Rather than capitalizing on fear as a motivator to produce change or create funding, we believe that fear must be dispelled to affect positive changes accepted by all. Our main thrust is one of education and of becoming a model, a way of “being” on this planet we call Mother Earth. One can make no greater impression than to lead by example. ISPMB honors the wild horse and burro and realizes the interdependence of all living things in this universe.

    ISPMB is a 501 (c) 3 not-for profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.”

    http://ispmb.org/AboutISPMB.html

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