Source: ISPMB/Emergency Adoption Mission
“The ‘Hallelujah Horses’ Need Your Help!”
Volunteers are scrambling to find homes for hundreds of wild horses in South Dakota that were spared a possible trip to the slaughterhouse but are now suffering through a harsh winter.
The horses, some of them blind, were once kept at a troubled South Dakota sanctuary. Now a small group of volunteers from across the country is working 10 hours a day to feed and care for animals, using rented plows to carve paths through 15-foot snowdrifts. In a nearby hotel room, other volunteers are sorting through adoption applications and networking through social media, desperately trying to find homes for the horses before they are forced to leave the property next month.
“We are working to get the whole herd out of the 15-foot snow. Some are blind and are walking out right over the fences. It’s really hard to work with so many horses with so many problems,” said Elaine Nash, director of horse rescue organization Fleet of Angels, who is spearheading the operation. “Every time we get over one hurdle there’s another one waiting for us.”
Some 500 horses have already been placed in sanctuaries and ranches across the country, from Arizona and Oregon to California and Minnesota. But the effort near Lantry, in northern South Dakota, isn’t done.
The remaining 300 wild horses could be more difficult to sell or have adopted, Nash said. Nearly 200 are stallions that need gelding before anyone will want them. Dozens are old and have health problems. Others are blind from what Nash suspects was toxic farm runoff in their drinking pond.
But Nash was grateful for the response so far to the neglected herd. Many of the less desirable horses have already found homes, and Nash is hopeful that most will be out of South Dakota by their deadline.
When Nash first spread the word in October, This Old Horse rescue in Hastings, Minnesota, agreed to take two older mares.
They wound up taking seven stallions, all blind, instead.
“I don’t know how it happened,” joked Nancy Turner, board president of This Old Horse. “Elaine is really good at convincing people.”
Turner said it’s not easy. The horses are wild, after all, and need special handling and transportation. Most have never been inside a barn or trailer.
“But part of it for me is that these aren’t poor needy horses,” Turner said. “They are magnificent. I thought that we could celebrate them rather than see them as poor things that should probably be put down.”
More than 800 horses were impounded in October at the nonprofit International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros after a state veterinarian found they were being neglected and a former ranch employee said they were being starved to death. All but 20 were eventually surrendered by their owner.
By mid-December, a third of the horses had been adopted or sold while the other 550 or so were being held as collateral by county officials seeking reimbursement for the cost of caring for the horses. When it didn’t come, the counties started planning to auction off the rest to recoup the cost, making animal rights groups fear many of the horses would be brought to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.
Fleet of Angels and other animal rights groups raised the $78,000 still owed to the counties and stopped the auction. They then assumed the costs and responsibility of caring for the horses
The group is now gathering, microchipping, collecting blood samples and trimming the feet of the remaining horses and gelding the stallions. Meanwhile, they still need financial support to feed and care for a herd burning through $1,000 in hay each day.
Nash said horses won’t be euthanized unless they have broken bones or serious conditions — even horses that might be difficult to adopt.
“We know that someone will come forward and give them good homes. People care about these horses and about making this mission a success,” she said.
Note: “200 stallions” was the total number of the stallions out of the total 810. Also, about 95% of the horses look great after receiving $150,000 worth of hay since mid-October.
What a terrific and difficult job! I don’t think the owner should have been left with any! How is she feeding the 20 the judicial system let her keep? We can only just keep posting and passing the word on. Had that woman let people help.her the horses would not be in this position. Sometimes pride gets in the way of what is right. But pride has no place when you are dealing with living, breathing animals that depend on you for their care! Good luck Elaine and others I will help push for more adoptive homes. May God bless.you.and the horses!
You should get the complete story before conveying judgements.
So these people will geld stallions and Pzp mares. What about the White Sands, Catnip and Gila viable herds? Terrific rescue efforts Elaine!
Chris, there is nothing here that says any mares will be PZP’d as a condition of adoption, and it isn’t the least uncommon to geld stallions (who have had unrestricted breeding until now). Could you clarify who you mean by “these people” since you seem to imply the adopters? As long as the horses are alive their genetics have a chance, wherever each animal ends up. Without this effort it is pretty clear where most would have met their ultimate end.
Many have written on this site supporting finding whole herd adopters – so if you know people who would take entire herds, please tell them! Time is short. But you probably already know that.
IcySpots – just use your knowledge of how and why HSUS joined in this effort. I should not have to explain this to you. Secondly, BLM is gelding stallions young and old with some dying as a result — Many have written against this process. Louis C. provided a link to the possibility of the Gila herd going back to Arizona. I hope they stay together in the wild where they should be along with the White Sands herd. The Catnips were shoved out from Sheldon by our taxpayer funded agency.
From ISPMB news letter
The four historic herds that were rescued by ISPMB from slaughter some 16 years ago are genetically distinct – the last of their kind on earth. If these horses were allowed to perish in the wild or in captivity, it would spell the end of their lineage. As a “Conservation Center”, ISPMB prevented this from happening by allowing these herds to achieve genetic viability. In our mission to preserve the integrity of their bloodlines, we have also studied and documented their behavior. What we have learned will help inform a more humane and sustainable public policy for wild horse and burro management. A policy that would no longer disrupt family structures though senseless round-ups or use of chemical contraception that would render them infertile in less than three years.
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Elaine Nash also said some of the 300 horses may need to be euthanized because they may not make it over the winter. So what happened? Were some ISPMB old horses euthanized?
Chris, I appreciate your points but the BLM is not involved in this effort to keep the horses kept at ISPMB alive and adopted. Fleet of Angels is not gelding stallions before adopting them out, but once people have them home that is at their own discrestion, as I understand it.
The “possibility” of a whole herd adoption I also referenced, but seems not to have materialized, and there is a deadline looming. We can all hope for a lot better situation for all these horses, which would include never having rounded them up in the first place, but that is not reality.
There is nothing in this article that indicates the HSUS is involved with this mass adoption effort, though earlier reports indicated they may have provided funds for hay etc., and of course in the past there was a disagreement about PZP use. But there is nothing in this mass adoption effort or article indicating PZP use is a requirement for adoptions.
While historically a lot of water has run under the bridge, you are mixing apples and oranges here. If you have a viable whole-herd adoption site and organization, even once they are dispersed to save their lives it wouldn’t be impossible to find some or all of these horses and congregate them again, but they have to be moved NOW.
The Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, from which the Sheldon horses were removed, is not and was not managed by the BLM. The White Sands horses were removed from a missile range owned by the Army, who fenced it off and this eventually led to these NON BLM horses dying. Per ISPMB the Gila herd also were not primarily under BLM management – it’s a complicated history I’m sure you know better than I. What is certain is that no horses will be returned to non-HMAs like Sheldon, The White Sands Missile Range, and the Gila area.
The problems and failures of ISPMB — and no one else — are the direct, undeniable cause of what is happening now. If you have a better viable solution I’m sure not the only one who wishes you’d have acted on it long before a crisis intervention was required.
You’ve spent a lot of words explaining the obvious. The BLM castrating wild stallions was an example of how things can go wrong.
Here is what Nash said above:
“Nearly 200 are stallions that need gelding before anyone will want them.”
It seems that the HSUS just giving money for hay is just a guess, otherwise, please provide a link.
Most people want to see these horses succeed.
Chris, since you asked and can’t be troubled to look this up yourself, here is one reference from this site about HSUS providing hay donations in the past. You could contact them yourself for more information (again stating the obvious) since it seems there is a long track history between these two organizations.
Chris, the BLM isn’t involved in this situation at all, as you know, and the Fleet of Angel’s comment didn’t say anything about people being REQUIRED to geld or PZP adopted animals. It’s been well published many took studs already and will probably keep them that way, but some may not. Your comment was short but caustic but you still haven’t clarified who you mean by “these people” though in this context it implies Fleet of Angels.
“So these people will geld stallions and Pzp mares. What about the White Sands, Catnip and Gila viable herds? Terrific rescue efforts Elaine!”
If my thoughtful but longer replies are equally irritating, so be it. I am interested and concerned with this largest rescue from a rescue in our nation’s history.
Done here. Thanks to all making the effort to keep these horses alive and under more responsible standards of care.
I’ve already shown you the quote from the Nash text before — you seem to ignore: “Nearly 200 are stallions that need gelding before anyone will want them.”
My statement that BLM castrated stallions some resulting in deaths is an EXAMPLE, of how this procedure can and will go wrong.
It seems all you want to do is argue. Instead, do something better for them.
Your comments are not irritating, but do re-consider your call for Karen’s trial, because it’s not in line with due process and helps no one or the horses.
Having received yet another request from ISPMB for donations – fine. But at at the same time, accusing Fleet of Angels & the coalition of groups & volunteers of “threatening” ISPMB in order to get these horses to safety? Thats just not right. These people who came to SD to SAVE horses & worked thru the horrible weather the past couple months – put their lives in danger caring for these animals – most of which had never been handled – threatening? I dont think so. It would be wonderful if there were places that could take entire herds – but in this day & age, very few groups have that ability. The fact that they are placing blind stallions in caring homes? Thats pretty much a miracle. I do hope the 20 horses left at ISPMB are safe & looked after & that there is oversight.
Maggie, would you post the language ISPMB is sending out? It’s interesting if they use the word “threatening” since this entire effort was directed by law enforcement and government intervention in response to self-generated ISPMB crisis. Also, it seems the only ISPMB representative on site may be Karen Sussman, who lives there. One would think the legal decision would have required her to remain off site during this operation, or at least be required not to interfere with the adoption efforts, as this is surely an unpleasant situation for her as well as potentially hostile for the Fleet of Angels working under a deadline.
Icy – this is one paragraph – it was quite a long message!
This provided a window-of-opportunity for a “coalition” of organizations headed by “Fleet of Angels” to purchase our horses from the county. We are devastated by this outcome and were threatened every step-of-the-way. The “coalition” refused to work directly with ISPMB, which could have helped us avert this situation altogether. Instead, they seized the opportunity to acquire our unique and historic horses and disparage ISPMB publicly. Yet, in spite of everything that has been said and done to us, the settlement we reached with the county protected our horses from being sold at auction and from being euthanized without cause.
I dont understand the criticism towards the people who worked so hard in lousy weather – not for money, certainly – so they could save these horses lives. And the cost of driving back & forth for many hundreds of miles? I didnt hear of any of them “disparaging” ISPMB – in fact far from it. I didnt paste the whole thing – as I said it was quite a long message.
Maggie, thanks. This seems to be an amazing construction of the situation which doesn’t square with what was reported by two Sheriff’s Departments, multiple eyewitnesses, the Attorney General of SD, reports from numerous adopters on site, or Fleet of Angels.
A lot of claims made here are not substantiated by any other sources than Karen Sussman (hardly a neutral observer) representing ISPMB, whose substandard care and failure to be able to remedy them in a timely fashion is what led to the complete confiscation in the first place.
I sincerely hope the IRS and the AG of SD fully investigate what happened here, and those responsible take a long look in the mirror before randomly blaming the efforts of anyone who ensured a shot at a better life for hundreds of innocent horses.
The good work that ISPMB has accomplished should not be forgotten and should be continued on Public Land as it should have been all along and as was the original intent of the Wild Horse & Burro Act.
This is not the first organization that has run into trouble due to lack of funding. It is impossible to conduct Wild Horse Behavior studies in a sanctuary setting. The natural checks and balances that keep the population stable are not there. This was the entire thrust of ISPMB…to change the management of our Wild Horses & Burros and KEEP them in the Wild.
At the present time the roundups are continuing and even more of America’s Wild Horses & Burros are being removed from Public Lands.
This is from one reader’s comment in the Rapid City Journal/Nov 6, 2016
“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.
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…and the roundups and removals continue as more Wild Horses & Burros disappear from Public Lands,
BLM Moves Against Wild Horses & Burros in Nevada’s Blue Wing Complex
Comment deadline: February 10, 2017
The Bureau of Land Management’s Humboldt River Field Office is accepting public comments on a Preliminary Environmental Assessment (PEA) to manage the federally protected horses and burros in the Blue Wing Complex in Nevada. The Complex, which includes the Kamma Mountains, Seven Troughs Range, the Lava Beds, Blue Wing Mountains, and Shawave HMAs, spans 2,283,300 acres (over 3,500 square miles!). Yet the BLM has set “Appropriate” Management Levels (AMLs) of just 333 to 553 wild horses and 55 to 90 wild burros for this entire area! At the upper population limit, that’s only one horse or burro per 3,551 acres!
The BLM wants to drive the wild horse and burro population down to low AML in 20 years by implementing an unprecedented plan to sterilize 30 percent of these herds using highly controversial procedures that are untested in wild free-roaming horse herds. The BLM’s plan does not disclose when and how many roundups will occur, how many wild horses and burros will be permanently removed, when and how many mares and jennies will be treated with fertility control or spayed, or when and how many stallions and jacks will be gelded.
The BLM’s Proposed Action for the Complex involves a range of management methods that will be used individually or in combination but described in little detail; these methods consist of the following:
• gather wild horses and burros via multiple gathers;
• remove and transport wild horses and burros;
• treat and release mares with fertility control (PZP/GonaCon);
• spay and/or geld wild horses and burros.
The BLM plans to implement this Proposed Action immediately upon approval and meet the low AMLs (333 wild horses and 55 wild burros) and maintain AML ranges within approximately 20 years.
In this Proposed Action, the BLM has NOT stated, for example, when and how many roundups would take place; how many wild horses and wild burros would be subjected to each method and when each method would be implemented; the number and time would depend on the BLM’s management priorities and current on-the-ground conditions.
Ultimately, this Proposed Action is designed to manage for a non-breeding component of 50 mares and 50 stallions and 9 jennies and 9 jacks. This equates to approximately 30% (approximately 15% females & 15% males) of the low AMLs.
Once the BLM achieves the low AMLs and completes subsequent monitoring, it would examine the non-breeding component percentage to determine if additional multiple removals and population growth control treatments are needed to maintain the AML and sustain reduced population growth rates.
The “important research” has never yet been published, but promised. It would help immensely if they were to publish it, and in a peer-reviewed journal, but until then it’s impossible to verify anything of value was “researched” as the folks at Princeton University have explicitly disassociated from anything going on at ISPMB. It is a stretch to consider that high numbers of horses fenced in on a small acreage and requiring supplemental feeding at least half the year would have any relevance to conditions on the range. I remain hopeful this “research” has some credible value, but it remains unshown, unpublished and unproven today.
It’s my understanding that Cassandra Nunez was at ISPMB, but there was never enough funding to complete a study from Princeton. However, Karen did keep records and did submit her population data to the then Secretary of Interior Sally Jewel.
We know from research that has been published on R.T.’s blog that WH&B reproductions rates are far below that which BLM claims
.Dr. Cassandra M V Nuñez
Area of Expertise:
B.A., Laboratory Psychology, Douglass College, Rutgers University, 1993
Ph.D., Behavioral Ecology, Princeton University, 2000
NREM 305: Wildlife Behavioral Ecology seminar
NREM 505: Topics in Animal Behavior seminar
AECL 451: Wildlife Ecology and Management
AECL 455: International Wildlife Issues
AECL 231X: Principles of Wildlife & Fisheries Management
My research integrates animal behavior and physiology in the wild to answer both applied and basic questions, using feral horses as a model system. Much of my current research has focused on the unintended side effects of contraception management on the behavior and physiology of feral horses, but I have also studied mother-offspring relationships and the importance of sociality to offspring survival
Contraceptive Management: My research has shown that contracepted mares are less loyal to the band stallion; they change social groups more often, particularly during the non-breeding season. In addition, contracepted mares extend reproductive cycling into the non-breeding season. How do these changes in behavior and reproductive physiology affect other members of the population? For example, has there been an increase in the escalation of male-male conflicts in an attempt to retain contracepted mares? Are levels of stress, measured through fecal cortisol, higher in groups that include more contracepted mares? Furthermore, how might the use of immunocontraception affect population fitness? Does stimulation of the immune system to achieve infertility select for individuals with low immunocompetence? Answers to these questions can help managers make more ethical and responsible decisions regarding the population control of species.
SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
Op-ed: Wild horse contraception not without unintended consequences By cassandra nunez, jim adelman and dan rubenstein
First Published Jul 03 2015
Cassandra Nuñez is adjunct assistant professor of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Iowa State University. Jim Adelman is an assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Iowa State University. Dan Rubenstein is a professor at Princeton University who studies the behavior and ecology of horses, zebras and wild asses.
Louie, thanks for posting those links, but Nunez’ work seems to have all been conducted at Shackleford Banks, NC, not at ISPMB, and Dr. Rubinstein has elsewhere clarified Princeton did not conduct any research at ISPMB, so it remains unpublished. If you have a link to the data you said was sent to Sally Jewell that may or may not be useful without any use of research protocols or peer-review of methodology and results.
Last year, Karen said she would publish her/researchers’ findings, but wanted to wait until after the election last Nov. With the current administration, it’s a lost cause.
Louie, while I agree with your motivations, it’s unfortunately true that the ISPMB experiment is easily dismissed by the BLM/USFS as irrelevant to managing in the wild, as you wrote yourself.
Worse, it supports the current management model that insists wild horses will overpopulate a fenced area and degrade it while starving out unless culled or contracepted, especially in the absence of traditional predators.
IcySpots, BLM dismisses ALL research except their own or that of those institutions that are willing to go along with invasive sterilization experiments or radio collar research.
There is something that must also be factored into the equation and that is the fact that the killing of predators is one of the BIG problems with the entire Public Lands management system. That has been addresses in almost every Environmental Assessment.
Organizations Team Up in the Wake of a Severed Mountain Lion Foot Found in a Trap
Missoula, Mont. (April 14, 2015) – An unlikely alliance between the Bitterroot Houndsmen Association, Footloose Montana, and In Defense of Animals is calling on Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) for more accountability in the management of mountain lions in the Big Sky State after the gruesome and horrific discovery of a severed mountain lions limb in a foothold trap. The alliance is seeking a reduction in the overall quota of mountain lions in the Bitterroot Valley, by counting trap-related injuries and deaths toward the overall hunting quota, and by holding trappers accountable.
The severed mountain lion foot was discovered around March 24 by a resident in the Bitterroot Valley. He reported deep claw marks on a nearby tree, indicating that the estimated four-year-old male lion was desperately trying to seek shelter and escape the source of pain – a foothold trap set for wolves. Thanks to recreational and commercial trapping, this mountain lion is likely dead now, either succumbing to starvation, attack by other carnivores, shock, or a painful infection of the severed limb.
LOSS OF FOALS FROM PRYOR MOUNTAIN WILD HORSE HERD BLAMED ON MOUNTAIN LIONS
Mountain lions are being blamed for playing a “significant role” in the deaths of 22 of 28 foals born to the Pryor Mountain wild horse herd in May.
The loss of the foals has forced BLM to alter its birth control plans for the herd out of concern for the horses’ genetic viability. Five yearling and three 2-year-old mares will be allowed to conceive this year. But seven mares 14 and older and one 2-year-old filly will still receive birth control injections. Birthing is hard on older mares, and the younger mare is in poor condition.
Louie, if what you said here is true: “… BLM dismisses ALL research except their own or that of those institutions that are willing to go along with invasive sterilization experiments or radio collar research…” then anything the ISPMB eventually publishes will not make any difference in altering BLM policies on the range, as some people have indicated was the whole intent of the “research.” Realistically, as I see it what has happened at ISPMB only supports the BLM’s existing claims and policies.
We should all consider how we would respond if the BLM “managed” 810 wild horses on 600 or so acres, and the resulting predictable consequences, even if they called it “research.” I for one would be outraged. I bet you would be, too.
IcySpots, one major difference between BLM and ISPMB is that BLM is funded by OUR tax $ which are then used to remove OUR WH&B from OUR Public Lands. My outrage is directed towards the private interests that profit from those removals and the agencies that do their bidding.
For those who are TRYING to help solve that problem…I have compassion…not anger.
Louie, you are overlooking the truth that a nonprofit entity is also being paid for by taxpayers to a large extent, in that donors can write off what they give, creating tax incentives unavailable to for-profit enterprises, or to ISPMB if they operate outside their federally approved nonprofit mission.
It’s also a cause for concern that the ISPMB site and letter points out significant funds were raised in the past year (hundreds of thou$sands) yet they could not feed their horses nor owe a mortgage payment on the facilities where those horses were kept.
Although (as mentioned elsewhere) the BLM is not responsible for the horses who ended up at ISPMB, I think the outrage can rightfully be directed in both directions, as removals have widely failed taxpayers and the (formerly wild) horses.
icySpots, anyone who has followed this and other blogs for any amount of time and has read the absolute atrocities (there are volumes) that are perpetrated upon our WH&B by an agency that is supposed to protect them cannot help but be outraged. Karen was trying to change that. She was trying to accomplish with limited land and limited resources what our taxpayer $ SHOULD be doing on our Public Lands…more than 22 Million acres of which have simply disappeared from original Herd Areas.
Also I think it should be noted that through the years Horses there have been put up for adoption in order to keep the Herd pared down and I think the organization was looking for more land to buy, but the last few years have been what one might call a “perfect storm” with a prolonged drought, skyrocketing hay prices and the deaths of several major donors. I think she at least deserves a fair trial.
It just seems to me that rather than crucify someone who did the best she could with the resources she had, we should instead move forward and demand what rightfully belongs to all of US…FAIR and HONEST management of our Public Lands and Wildlife, which very much includes our Wild Horses & Burros.
Karen has had the unique opportunity to study 4 different Herds and has therefore been able to see the difference between functional and non-functional Herd behavior. That is, in essence, at the very core of Wild Horse population stability.
The Older Horses (both Mares & Stallions) are integral to the leadership of the entire band, but yet those 10 yr and older are removed once captured. Continued interference by roundups, removals, etc. have actually caused the populations to increase and she didn’t realize that until the Catnip Herd arrived there in South Dakota. That Herd had been decimated by continued roundups and could not function as a Herd, as the young Horses had never had a leader. Once something is destroyed, it is almost, if not, impossible to salvage it.
We have so much to learn about our Wild Horses & Burros and how they actually function in the wild. Unless we get serious and demand some REAL and positive changes in the management, there won’t be any left.
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Louie, I share your passion and awareness of much that has happened and is happening. However, I still question the value of the “research” conducted at ISPMB and remain skeptical since Karen didn’t even have an accurate count of the horses the Sheriff’s departments found there last fall (not counting those dead and dragged to the pit/s). It’s also doubtful any observations made in captivity would correlate much with wild circumstances.
I also agree with you that Karen Sussman deserves a fair trial––and hope law enforcement (and others) will ensure one and the full truth will be daylighted.
The fact the ISPMB Board of Directors seems to be invisible and mute raises many red flags for me and remains unexplained. Karen is not the organization, but a member of a nonprofit charity granted that privilege by our government in the public interest. At this time it’s impossible not to consider those privileges have been abused.
I also hope any “research” was conducted appropriately and will withstand peer-review and be published rather than constantly hinted about. It is nothing new to say compensatory reproduction in mammals is somehow signficant; it’s not even argued by any credible scientists, and was referenced in the NAS study published a few years ago as well. One would hope sixteen or so years of “research” produced something more useful.
Also – again — the horses under ISPMB’s management were not horses removed from BLM lands or management, most if not all came from areas where they were not protected by law and were in danger of extermination so were removed/rescued, not rounded up and removed by the BLM. Accordingly, the 22 million acres argument isn’t appropriate to address those horses held at ISPMB. Apples and oranges.
Anyway, it’s good most of these horses will have yet another chance, just not the original one everyone envisioned.
IcySpots, it’s true that most of those Horses were not removed by BLM, but the remaining Horses from the Gila Herd were removed by BLM (due to a rancher’s complaint) and their Herd Area was zeroed out.
Approximately 40,000 Acres of their Painted Rocks Herd Area in Arizona was zeroed out in 1999.
PAINTED ROCKS AZ0007
IcySpots, in reading back through all of the reports, it was the employee that
IcySpots, in looking back through all of the reports and news articles, it was the former employee, not Karen, that submitted the number of Horses.
Karen’s trial has been by the press and has such she has been targeted by her enemies who do not want Wild Horses or Burros on Public Land. They have had a field day with this.
ALL sanctuaries are at risk of losing donors and going under…most operate on a Wind and a Prayer.
Horses do die at sanctuaries and something has to be done then. What are the options? In the Wild, the remains most probably help feed the other Wildlife or just decompose. BLM contracts with a rendering company. What do taxpayer funded long-term sanctuaries do? We do know from our investigative journalist, Debbie Coffey, that some Horses go out the back door to slaughter.
I have no stones to throw at anyone who tries to help
Louie, I also want wild horses and burros managed on the range, and think sanctuaries etc. should only be a last resort. Prior to this catastrophe at ISPMB I knew and respected that name — and had no axe to grind (no enemy here).
However, their actions and inactions since have failed the public and the horses while tarnishing their own good name and adversely affecting other nonprofits. It’s important to keep remembering this is not Karen’s personal empire, she is one member of a legal, nonprofit entity which has legal responsibilities to taxpayers. Managing remotly, by crisis and investing essentially all power and decisions into one overloaded person (even if she was willing) is inexcusable.
Karen is not and cannot be the ISPMB, though it seems to have come to that, for which blame needs to be placed on the Board of Directors. They should be held accountable, and again, if they have nothing to hide they have nothing to fear.
Per your comment the last Gila horses removed by rancher request, that is and always has been part of the WHB Act. There is plenty more wrong with this agency but that was a legal and in fact mandated action.
I’m glad most of these horses will have a chance now that does not include a mass public auction in the dead of winter. None of this was their choice from day one.
IcySpots, I don’t know how long anyone can hold up doing the kind of work that running a sanctuary entails. It does seem that when trouble starts everyone just disappears.
There was a very similar situation not long ago and it was handled in a much more positive manner. People stepped in and quietly kept the sanctuary from going under. Any bad press was averted as everyone understood what was important…the care and well-being of the animals and to keep the sanctuary operating. Granted that this is a different situation in many ways, but it would be good to see that some of those genetics could go back out onto the range. I do believe that was always Karen’s wish.
On my quest for information I happened upon something interesting. Arizona lost yet another of its Wild Horse Herds, but a non-native species was introduced to be used for game hunting.
Excerpts from the following two article will tell the story:
Chaz – The Mustang from White Sands, New Mexico
The wild horses of White Sands, New Mexico had lived there for generations. Actually for more than a century.
There were four distinct groups of horses at White Sands. One of the four groups of horses were descendants of the horses owned by Sheriff Pat Garrett. Garrett, as you may remember, is heralded as the one who shot Billy The Kid in New Mexico in 1881. Garrett ranched in the area during the last 25 years or so of his life, but died in disputed circumstances in 1908 after being shot. His horses, and those of others, roamed the White Sands area essentially untouched and unrestricted, even by the ranchers in the area up until World War II.
Another group were descendants of horses from Eugene Manlove Rhodes who ranched in the area in the early 1900s. Rhodes was a writer and rancher who wrote a lot about the West. Who knows? Some of these horses may have been related to Billy’s horse!
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. Although the fences were designed to keep the public out, they also kept the horses in and they could no longer freely roam in search of food and water. Nevertheless, things remained in something of a balance until the late 1980s when the food supply began drying up long with the sources of water.
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).
A graceful gazelle becomes a pest
Oct. 22, 2001
LAS CRUCES, N.M. -They are majestic animals, weighing 400 to 500 pounds, their straight black horns 30 to 40 inches long. Their faces are adorned with distinctive black-and-white masks, and they stare at you as if deciding whether to run.
They are oryx gazelles, from the Kalahari region of Africa. But this is the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico, where the animals have been multiplying since 1969, when the New Mexico Game and Fish Department released oryx as part of its exotic animal introduction program on the White Sands Missile Range.
The idea to provide exotic big-game hunting opportunities for local hunters originated just after World War II with Frank C. Hibben, today professor emeritus of archaeology at the University of New Mexico, but then chairman of the New Mexico Game Commission.
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Correction..White Sands Wild Horses were in NEW MEXICO…a state which has lost almost ALL of its Wild Horses
The line about the legendary stallions appearing then disappearing is famous and mystical. They behave like this when free.
Wish I could take in more horses, but we are getting older and I am not sure how much longer I can take care of the ones I have. Couldn’t find a reblog button, so I just posted from my Press this button. Praying all these wonderful horses will find good loving homes. Thanks for posting.