SD Sheriff: ‘Great improvement’ seen in wild horses on troubled ‘sanctuary’

by as published on Argus Leader

“ISPMB president Karen Sussman denied that the horses were malnourished…”

57ef2233a898e-imageThe Dewey County Sheriff’s Office says state vets are seeing “great improvement” among more than 800 horses on a South Dakota ranch that is accused of starving the animals.

The International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB) ranch in Lantry is under investigation after a former employee spoke out against the ranch, saying its owner failed to adequately feed and provide veterinary care for the horses living there and that more than 30 had died over the summer.

Earlier this week, a judge ordered ISPMB to turn over care of the horses to Ziebach and Dewey counties. Dewey County State’s Attorney Steven Aberle told the judge at the hearing “that the herd has grown beyond a size that can be adequately cared for.”

On Thursday, the Dewey County Sheriff’s Office posted a statement on Facebook, saying that state vets counted 810 horses on the ranch, a great deal more than the 650 originally estimated. Of those, 25 were marked as needing special care and one elderly horse was marked for euthanization.

“Some of the foal and other horses have been adopted and removed from the ranch since the hearing,” the sheriff’s office said in the post.

It also noted that the vets “commented on the great improvement in condition since their first visit on the 14th of September.”

The two counties will be responsible for feeding the horses until the horses are given new homes, returned to ISPMB’s care or, at last resort, sold at auction. The judge said on Tuesday that if ISPMB shows it can adequately care for the horses, some of the animals could be returned to its custody.

ISPMB president Karen Sussman denied that the horses were malnourished on Tuesday.

“Animal death is a fact every rancher and farmer in South Dakota as well as throughout the world knows is inevitable,” she said. “But the circumstances of the animal deaths at the ISPMB Ranch have been wildly misrepresented.”

The Rapid City Journal reports that Sussman is facing a grand theft charge in Perkins County for allegedly writing a bounced $9,394 check to a hay supplier.

To help feed the horses, go to:

SD Dewey County Auditor Creates Way to Donate to Starving former Wild Horses

Another Big Landmark Win for Wyoming’s Wild Horses! Checkerboard Ruling Overturned by Federal Appeals Court

Source: Carol Walker as published on WildHoofBeats

Landmark Appellate Court Decision Stops BLM Wyoming Wild Horse Wipeout

Ruling Blocks Agency from Treating Over 1 Million Acres of Public Lands as Private Lands in Pursuit of Wild Horse Roundups

Denver, CO (October 14, 2016) . . . The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit today issued a landmark decision that stops the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from wiping out wild horses from over one million acres of public land in the Wyoming Checkerboard. The ruling holds that BLM violated two federal laws in its conduct of a 2014 wild horse roundup that removed over 1,263 wild horses from the area, and means that the agency’s plan to round up 500 more horses from the Checkerboard beginning on October 18 is also illegal. Plaintiffs American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom, photographers Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation, and Kimerlee Curyl and their attorney, Bill Eubanks of Meyer, Glitzenstein and Eubanks, are hailing the decision and its precedential implications for wild horse management throughout the western United States.

“This ruling throws a wrench into the backroom deal between the BLM and livestock grazing interests to eliminate federally protected wild horses from over one million acres of public land in Wyoming,” Eubanks said. “With this landmark decision, the Tenth Circuit has permanently stopped the BLM from treating public lands as private and eliminating wild horses from public lands based on a request from private landowners. This sets a major legal precedent across the West and protects wild horses from ranchers who want to eliminate these iconic animals from our public lands in order to put even more domestic cattle and sheep on these public lands to the detriment of the ecosystem.”

In its ruling issued today, the Tenth Circuit held that “the BLM violated both the [Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros] Act and FLPMA [Federal Land Policy Management Act] in carrying out the 2014 removal of wild horses from the Checkerboard.” The appellate court reversed the 2015 lower court ruling upholding BLM’s actions in the 2014 Checkerboard wild horse roundup.

Today’s decision is a closing chapter in an ongoing legal battle over the BLM’s plan to eradicate wild horses from a two million acre area of public and private land at the request of the Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGA). The RSGA owns or leases the private land blocks in the Checkerboard and views wild horses as competition for taxpayer subsidized livestock grazing on the public lands in the area.

Last week, the plaintiffs filed another lawsuit to block the agency from proceeding with the next Checkerboard roundup, set to begin on October 18.

This is the third major legal victory for the groups in just over a month. Earlier this week,the Tenth Circuit threw out a lawsuit by the State of Wyoming to compel the BLM to remove hundreds of wild horses from non-checkerboard public lands in that state. In a precedential ruling, the Tenth Circuit held that the BLM is not required to remove wild horses from public lands just because their populations exceed outdated population limits.

Wild Horse Sanctuary Herd Impounded

Main story by Pat Raia as published on

“Good and Bad News.  Good News, the abuser will no longer be in charge of the care, or lack of care, of the former wild horses.  They will be fed, with your help, assessed and adopted out.  Bad News, there will be a time limit, allegedly, of December 1 where remaining horses will be auctioned off and that is when the kill buyers will circle and attempt to make a quick, bloody buck by selling the horses off to slaughter.

Yesterday, a letter allegedly from the State’s Attorney, Steve Aberle was circulated among the advocacy, it’s validity has yet to be verified but the sources have been trustworthy in the past:

The horses will not be returned to Karen without adequate guarantees that there will be adequate food, care, shelter and funds to maintain the horses.  This means that many or all of the horses will probably have to be adopted or sold at auction.  Dewey County and Ziebach County are not in a position to provide for long term care of the horses.

Any animals that are not adopted will be sold at auction.  This means that they will probably be purchased by those that will take the horses to slaughter.  We would prefer to not see this happen, so the Dewey County Sheriff is keeping a list o f people who are willing to adopt some of the horses.  If you or your organization is interested in preventing some of the horses from going to auction,  I would encourage you to contact the Dewey County Sheriff to let him know that you are interested in adopting horses if we reach that point.

The deadline for completing adoptions and proceeding to auction is December 1, 2016, so this does not leave a lot of time for those who want to adopt to step forward.


It is imperative that the horses be fed and there are several agencies/organizations set up to do so, likewise there are sanctuaries working in the background to find homes for the horses in question.  Please stay tuned, your help will be needed.” ~ R.T.

SD Dewey County Auditor Creates Way to Donate to Starving former Wild Horses

“Sussman voluntarily agreed to the impoundment, court records said…”

57ef2233a898e-imageAuthorities in two South Dakota counties have impounded hundreds of horses residing at a wild horse sanctuary operated by the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB). The impoundment is part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of maltreatment at the facility.

Earlier this month former ISPMB employee Colleen Burns accused sanctuary operator Karen Sussman of maltreating horses at the facility and alleged that 30 animals had died of malnutrition. Sussman denied the accusations.

A representative for the Dewey County, South Dakota, Sheriff’s Department said an investigation was underway.

On Oct. 11, Dewey County State’s Attorney Steven Aberle and Ziebach County State’s Attorney Cheryl Laurenz-Bigue appeared before Circuit Court Judge Jerome Eckrich to request that the mustangs, burros, and other horses at the sanctuary be placed in the care of county law enforcement authorities, court records said.

Eckrich ruled that there was “good cause for the immediate impoundment of all” equids at the facility and ordered the animals living at ISPMB be immediately placed in the custody of both counties’ law enforcement agencies.

“The animals were placed in the care of the Dewey and Ziebach counties sheriffs’ departments because ISPBM was located in the two counties,” Aberle said.

Sussman voluntarily agreed to the impoundment, court records said.

Eckrich’s order states that the animals will continue to reside on ISPMB property, but Sussman will be relieved of their care.

“The Dewey County and Ziebach County Sheriffs shall purchase sufficient (feed) for said animals and shall employ any and all persons and equipment they determine necessary for the care for said animals,” court records said.

Sussman was unavailable for comment.

Aberle said the exact number of horses in the impounded herd remains unknown, pending an assessment.

“The (animals’) condition is also being assessed,” Aberle said.

No charges have been filed in the case, he said.

Major Victory for Wild Horses – Federal Appeals Court Denies Wyoming’s Appeal Against Wild Horses

Source: Carol Walker as published on

“This is a major precedential victory that will have important implications for federal wild horse policy for decades to come,”

For Immediate Release

View online here.

Major Victory for Wild Horses: Federal Appeals Court Tosses State of Wyoming’s Anti-Mustang Lawsuit


DENVER, CO (October 11, 2016) . . . Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the State of Wyoming against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) seeking the removal of hundreds of wild horses from public lands across the state. The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom, Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation and wild horse photographer Kimerlee Curyl were granted the right to intervene in the case and filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against the BLM.

At issue in the case, first filed in 2014, were wild horses in the Antelope Hills, Crooks Mountain, Green Mountain, Lost Creek, Stewart Creek, Fifteenmile and Little Colorado Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in Wyoming.

The Tenth Circuit held, “We reject the State’s arguments… the [Wild Horse] Act does not define the phrase “appropriate management level” and thus does not equate it with any requirement to remove excess animals from a particular HMA… the BLM is under no statutory duty to remove animals from the seven HMAs at issue.”

“This is a major precedential victory that will have important implications for federal wild horse policy for decades to come,” said Bill Eubanks of the public interest law firm Meyer, Glitzenstein and Eubanks, which represented the intervenors in this case.

“The appellate court has clearly affirmed two important issues – first that wild horse populations in excess of the BLM’s arbitrarily established ‘appropriate’ management levels do not equate with overpopulation, and second that the BLM is not required to remove wild horses from the range even if it determines an overpopulation exists,” Eubanks continued. “Rather the agency has broad discretion to implement other management approaches, including implementation of fertility control to humanely reduce population growth rates and reduction in livestock grazing within HMAs.”

Eubanks said that this precedential decision will impact similar pending cases at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and in U.S. District Court in Utah, and should serve as a deterrent to other states, including Nevada, considering litigation to compel the federal government to round up and remove thousands of wild horses from Western public lands.

The State of Wyoming lawsuit sought the removal of hundreds of wild horses from public lands in Wyoming, a state in where just 6,500 wild horses remain on 3.2 million acres of BLM-managed land. By contrast, hundreds of thousands of domestic cattle and sheep graze 18 million acres of BLM land in the state. Put another way, wild horses are present in Wyoming on just 2 percent of the BLM land grazed by livestock.

Eubanks is also representing the groups on separate litigation involving the BLM’s decision to wipe out wild horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard, a two million acre area of public and private land in the southern part of the state. The groups are awaiting a Tenth Circuit decision on a 2014 lawsuit and have filed new litigation challenging the BLM’s plan to conduct another Wyoming Checkerboard roundup, beginning as early as October 18.

Nancy Watson, Pres. of SAFE Food SAFE Horses Coalition, on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 10/12/16)


Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesdays®, Oct. 12, 2016

5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST … 7:00 pm CST … 8:00 pm EST

Listen to the archived show (HERE!)

You can also listen to the show on your phone by calling (917) 388-4520.

You can call in with questions during the 2nd half hour, by dialing (917) 388-4520, then pressing 1.

This show will be archived so you can listen to it anytime.

nancy-on-the-mallNancy Watson on the Mall in Washington D.C.

Our guest is Nancy Watson, President of SAFE Food SAFE Horses Coalition, representing 1.75 million members in support of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act from coalition partners. Nancy was raised in a Standardbred racing family, and immersed herself in advocating for a ban on horse slaughter after she learned that the fiscal budget had been altered to allow for USDA inspections of horse slaughter facilities in the U.S. in 2011.

The SAFE Food SAFE Horses Coalition has been raising worldwide awareness to the loopholes in U.S. legislation that allows U.S. equines (horses, donkeys, mules and burros) which are laden with pharmaceuticals, into the global food supply, and a “public hearing” on the wild horses to dispel myths and bring the truth to light.

On Sept. 22 & 23, 2016, the SAFE Food SAFE Horses Coalition held a rally in front of the USDA building in Washington D.C., where UN Members of CODEX were attending a food safety meeting at the USDA to discuss veterinary drug residue in the global food supply. The SAFE Food SAFE Horses Coalition wanted to make sure the UN members knew that the U.S. is responsible for the slaughter pipeline which results in toxic horsemeat around the globe.

SAFE Food SAFE Horses Coalition rally in Washington D.C. (R.T. Fitch, Freddie Hudson, John Holland and Cameron Harsh in the center, with advocates)group-pic-from-usda-rally



SAFE Food SAFE Horses Coalition Rally shown in Times Square, New York City

This show will be hosted by R.T. Fitch, President of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

To contact us:, or call 320-281-0585

Continue reading

Where Have All the Wolves, Cougars, and Wild Horses Gone?

By Geri Vistein as published on/in The Mother Earth News

“Our landscape is covered with a monoculture of cows, who are displacing our magnificent wildlife…”

There is an old tale that has been passed down about a frog, who was living in the bottom of a dark well. One day, a toad came and peered down at the frog. He asked, “Why do you remain down there in the darkness? If you climb out of the well, there is a whole new world out here for you to see?”

So the frog did so, and discovered what he had been missing in the darkness.*

Plight of Wild Mustangs and Keystone Predators

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

These icons of our nation’s history endure the ongoing cruel roundups by helicopters, forcing them out of their remote refuges and into holding pens. They are no longer free. At this time there are 45,000 of these wild animals being held by the the Bureau of Land Management. Many die along the way, small foals trampled and adults collapse in exhaustion and terror.

Why? It is the story of the frog in the well. As a society we are acting like that frog — just comfortable remaining in the darkness. Not wanting to find another way to share the land with those who were here before us, and have a right to be here for sure; preferring to grab up all the land for oneself, even the land that belongs to all Americans — public land. Our landscape is covered with a monoculture of cows, who are displacing our magnificent wildlife.

I remember when I was participating in research in the Mission Mountains of Montana, my fellow researcher and I came upon a whole herd of cows high up in these mountains, in a very remote area. There were no people around, only the cows, and it seemed so, so unnatural a situation. Even in this remote wild area of a National Forest — they were there. When one experiences this personally, there is a sense of the “unnaturalness” of this situation. There were no wildlife to be seen anywhere.

So why is this government agency rounding up our wild mustangs and burros? First of all, a trust has been broken with these wild beings. They have been pushed to remote areas far too small for them to graze environmentally. The cows have taken their land.

So does rounding them up and keeping them in pens, costing the taxpayer millions upon millions of dollars a year fix their “overpopulation” in shrunken habitats? No!

Will planning all forms of inhumane birth control efforts fix it? No!

Conservation Biology for an Informed ‘Land Mechanism’

In my work as a biologist, it is my goal that I never focus on the problem, but instead move on to seek viable solutions and keep my eyes on how we want it to be, not how it is.

So now back to our frog’s story. We need to climb out of the darkness into the light. The words of Aldo Leopold are so appropriate here: “The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: What good is it? If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not.”

And that land mechanism Leopold spoke of is all about the predator-prey relationship. All these places where the wild Mustangs live, wolves are not being allowed to inhabit, and cougars are being aggressively killed.  So if you were a wild Mustang, what would you choose — living with your predators, or being violently chased into miserable holding pens, your freedom taken from you, your families destroyed, and an unknown and painful future at the hands of humans?

Let us come out of the well! Let the wolves, cougars and wild Mustangs find that balance together. Let us allow the wisdom of Nature to create the balance, but also let us share the land.

Is it really all that hard to climb out of the well?

*You can see the frog story told in the wonderful film Mao’s Last Dancer.

Geri Vistein is a conservation biologist whose work focuses on carnivores and our human relationships with them. In addition to research and collaboration with fellow biologists in Maine, she educates communities about carnivores and how we can coexist with them. You can find her at Coyote Lives in Maine, and read all of Geri’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

If You Starve an Animal to Death, YOU are a CRIMINAL

In my most OUTRAGED opinion by R.T. Fitch

(Warning, if you find the truth offensive or only think with a portion of your brain then do not continue, it will only serve to confuse you)

Oh boy, the ole blood is a boiling as my “Stupid Meter” is pegged at 100% and in the good ole words of Popeye the Sailor, “That’s all I can stands cause I can’t stands no more!!!”  This bloody ISPMB saga is totally out of control.

Courtesy Photo of emaciated horse in a pen at the International Society for the Protection of Wild Horses & Burros near Lantry, S.D.

Courtesy Photo of emaciated horse in a pen at the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs & Burros near Lantry, S.D.

For nine days I have remained quiet, for nine days I have watched good people work hard to do the right thing and for nine days I have witnessed lemmings follow a self-anointed expert who has conned them into being co-conspirators and accessories in the crime of murder; the abuse and neglect of starving wild horses to death.

In an effort to be fair and considerate I am publishing Karen Sussman’s latest letter and plea for money (below) where she discounts the evidence of her starving horses to death and has the unmitigated gal to wag her crooked, wart covered finger at those who did not and do not support her with a flow of hard earned dollars AND accuses THOSE very same people for the death of the horses; can you believe it, I can’t. The timing is perfect for a horror story just before Halloween, and we even have the evil, wicked, demented witch as a main character.

It’s just THIS simple ladies and gentlemen and it is NOT rocket science:

If you allow only ONE helpless animal to suffer the slow and painful death of starvation while under your care, you are an abusive criminal, hands down, full stop, no doubt about it. DONE DEAL. You can’t explain it away, you can’t sugar coat it, you can’t sweep it under the carpet cause you simply can’t polish a turd and YOU are that TURD.

Right now the important issue is to get feed/food to the horses and burros, God only knows what other horror stories are out there.

Next the ISPMB’s Board needs to step up to the plate, remove Sussman and manage the recovery and proper dispensation of the suffering animals i.e. adoption, transfer to other sanctuaries, etc.

Finally, local law authorities need to bear down on Sussman to the fullest extent of the law as a neglectful abuser and horse killer. She is no different than Meduna and perhaps even worse as she has pranced around for years as one of us while being a horse killer in advocate’s clothing, someone who both people and horses trusted only to find out that she has no heart and most definitely a forever damaged soul.

It is that simple and it should happen immediatly. There are people out there right now attempting to get hay to the horses and they are good folks who will take your money and convert it into what the horses need but shame on those who give to the abuser; the one who has mismanaged donations for years and now has been caught with the blood of wild horses on her hands, again.

It is THAT simple, Karen. Kill one and you are guilty…no one can save you from that shame and no amount of money will ever make that go away. So, how’s that for not remaining silent because in your words, below, silence is NOT a virtue…but in my humble opinion, telling the truth is!!!

If you want to be certain that your money makes a difference please click (HERE) to learn about viable donation options from the Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary to the SD Dewey County Auditor’s Office.

Jatara also has a GoFundMe page set up, too…

Below is the lament of an abuser:

Dear Mindless Lemmings – (I added that, it fit – R.T.)

I know just how deeply you care about the future of wild horses, which is why I am writing you today.  The need for your financial support at this time could not be more urgent!

The plunder of wild horses in America is a true horror story.  I know you know this.  To this day, even with protections afforded by the Wild Horse and Burro Act (1971), the Burns Amendment enacted by Congress (2004) now allows for commercial sales to kill-buyers … and the round-up and slaughter of these magnificent creatures continues

ISPMB now shelters over 600 wild horses at its conservation center in Lantry, South Dakota.  Our historic and unique herds were originally rescued from slaughter nearly 16 years ago and we have studied and preserved the integrity of their bloodlines ever since.

But it now costs ISPMB more than $50,000 a month to feed and care for all of these horses.  It shouldn’t cost this much, but the price of hay has skyrocketed from less than $50 to more than $90/bale, which has created a real financial crisis for ISPMB.

We are now forced to spend more than $10,000/week in hay alone, just to keep our herds strong and healthy … but we currently do not have enough hay to see us through to spring and are truly worried our horses won’t survive the winter without additional financial support

While we continue to solicit donations from everyone we know, many people have chosen to remain silent and have not responded to our urgent call for support.  We rely on contributions from caring people like you to provide for our horses.

How can anyone stand on the sidelines and pray someone else will come to our rescue at a time like this? The stakes are too high.  Surely, our horses will not survive the winter without this support!

It is truly a frightening thought.  We cannot let this happen.

Please come to our rescue today.

The great recession nearly brought our adoption program to a screeching halt.  Thankfully, we are now seeing an uptick of interest and inquiries from individuals seeking to adopt a foal, a family … and entire bands of horses, which will help reduce the size of our herds.  This is an important development and a key aspect to ISPMB’s long term survival.

We are also diligently working to mitigate the need to purchase so much hay in the future.

Our long range plan includes the purchase of a significantly larger ranch property with its own hay producing capacity.

ISPMB has already identified a suitable property that will truly help stabilize our financial operation in the long run.   We plan to launch a capital campaign in the spring to help make this vision a reality and acquire this property.   Its location also holds great promise for the future of ISPMB, providing a potential new source of revenue through increased eco-tourism.

I am sharing all of this with you, because I want you to know we are not simply wringing our hands or praying for a miracle.  We are actively pursuing a solution and truly need your help to avert a serious financial crisis.

Thank you for responding to this urgent call for support.  Please send us your gift today and help save our horses.

With gratitude,

Karen Sussman


P.S.  Silence is not a virtue.  Please encourage family and friends to join you in support of our mission.  Together, we can overcome this short term financial crisis. Thank again for your support.

Private Horse Sanctuary Became Starvation Zone

By LACEY LOUWAGIE  as published on The Courthouse News Service

“I was working my dream job and able to apply my life and professional skills to help wild horses for an organization that has been saving them since 1960. … It was a dream … a dream that turned into the most horrific of nightmares.”

LANTRY, S.D. (CN) — With another harsh South Dakota winter just around the corner, a former employee at a wild horse sanctuary has released documentation of emaciated and dead horses at the ranch, hoping to get help for the others before the cold sets in.

“When I began working for and living on the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros ranch in April of 2015, I was full of hope and joy,” Colleen Burns wrote in a statement accompanying her documentation.

“I was working my dream job and able to apply my life and professional skills to help wild horses for an organization that has been saving them since 1960. … It was a dream … a dream that turned into the most horrific of nightmares.”

white-sands-foalBurns says that since June more than 30 horses have died of starvation, lack of veterinary care and other causes at the ranch.

She released her documentation of the deaths to the public and to The Animal Legal Defense Fund late last week.

(Editor’s Warning). The document is rife with harrowing photos of horses whose every rib is visible, hipbones jutting sharply out of flanks. One photo depicts a horse with a gruesome open wound on its neck.

NBC got wind of the documents early, running a story on Saturday. By Monday this week, the story had spread across South Dakota newspapers, into Iowa, and onto horse enthusiast websites, many of which reprinted the less-graphic of the troubling photos.

Burns’ fears about how the horses will fare in the coming winter are understandable. In 2013, an October winter storm killed up to 30,000 cattle in South Dakota, according to

When neither the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros president Karen Sussman or its board of directors heeded her concerns about the horses, Burns said, she began creating her 16-page document of photos, journal entries and stills from videos.

Five days after she posted her document to a public Google page, the society (ISPMB) updated its homepage with a flood of images dated Oct. 3. These images show clean, healthy and placid-looking horses surrounded by mounds of hay.

The number of horses at the ISPMB ranch has risen from 260 to 650 in the 16 years that it has been studying wild herds, according to the society’s website. Burns says the ranch does not have the money to adequately feed them all, nor enough grass on its 680 acres to support their grazing.

On Monday, Dewey County Sheriff’s Department announced on its Facebook page that it is investigating. Dewey County Sheriff Les Mayer has been visiting daily since Burns contacted the state veterinarian on Sept. 15, according to Burns’ documentation.

Mayer told the Rapid City Journal that Sussman must feed the horses daily or risk citation or arrest. The sheriff said she has complied.

The ranch has been in dire financial straits for years. As early as September 2011, Sussman issued a plea on the society’s website for help feeding the horses.

“Today, I am writing to ask for your help,” she wrote. “The severity and length of the economic downturn has hit charities hard and we are facing the upcoming winter without enough funding to purchase enough hay.”

Sussman is facing grand theft charges in nearby Perkins County, accused of writing a bad check for more than $9,000 to pay for hay, according to the Rapid City Journal.

The society has been sued at least four times in three South Dakota counties since 2015, accused of writing bad checks, not paying for hay or failing to repay loans, according to the Courthouse News database. The claims total more than $160,000.

Burns says food for the horses was delivered sporadically over the summer, and that horses were being fed only once a week by the end of August.

Susan Watt, director of the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, has stepped in to help with $6,000 worth of donated hay, enough to feed the herds for three days, according to The Rapid City Journal.

The Dewey County Sheriff’s Department also is setting up a fund to help pay for hay for the troubled horses.

Burns says Sussman fired her after she released the documents. She said their relationship had been deteriorating since the beginning of September.

“I pray that the remaining horses are appropriately cared for and that the ISPMB president Karen A. Sussman and board of directors are forced to provide the necessary veterinarian care to those currently suffering and to ensure they have hay every day,” Burns says in the closing of her document. “If that happens, all of my pain will have been in the name of the wild horses, especially the ones who starved to death.”

The ISPMB, on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in north central South Dakota, claims on its website to be “a leader in the field of wild horse and burro protection and preservation.”

Its founder, Velma Johnston, was instrumental in passing federal legislation in 1971 that protected wild horses on public land, according to its website. Today, the society focuses on the study of wild horses and manages four herds. It aims to share its findings with the Bureau of Land Management for better wild horse management nationwide, the website says.

Sussman did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Those interested in contributing funds, hay or pasture space for the horses can call Susan Watt at 605-745-7494, email or contact the Dewey County Sheriff’s Department.

Wild Horse Sanctuary President Denies Equine Neglect

story by Pat Raia as published on The Horse

““I cannot tell you much, but…”

stallionKaren Sussman, president of the International Society for the Preservation of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB), is denying accusations that 30 mustangs died of starvation at the organization’s South Dakota facility.

Founded by Velma Johnston, also known as Wild Horse Annie, to study and preserve wild horse herds in the west, ISPMB currently manages four wild horse herds and collects data on the horses’ social structures and herd dynamics.

Sussman told that on Oct. 2, former ISPMB employee Colleen Burns posted accusations on the internet that Sussman had maltreated horses at the sanctuary and that 30 animals had died allegedly of malnutrition.

Sussman said Burns had recently been fired from the organization and denied the accusations.

“I cannot tell you much, but I can tell you that the 30 horses did not die of starvation,” she said, adding that her lawyer would issue a statement.

Burns could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, a Dewey County, South Dakota, Sheriff’s Department representative said an investigation into the alleged deaths is underway, but no one has been charged in the case.

The spokesman declined further comment on the ongoing investigation. He referred further inquiries to Dewey County State’s Attorney Steve Aberle.

Aberle was unavailable for comment.

New Lawsuit Filed to Stop BLM Wild Horse Roundup in Wyoming Checkerboard

Action Comes As Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Considers Legality of BLM Decision to Eradicate Wild Horses from Public Lands in the Area

photo by Carol Walker

photo by Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Cheyenne, WY (October 4, 2016) – The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), Return to FreedomThe Cloud Foundation, and photographers Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl filed suit yesterday in U.S. District in Wyoming against the BLM, challenging the agency’s decision to conduct another wild horse roundup in the Wyoming Checkerboard in the southern part of the state. The wild horse advocates are represented by Bill Eubanks of the public interest environmental law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks LLP.

The lawsuit is the latest chapter in an ongoing legal battle against over the BLM’s plan to eradicate wild horses from a two million acre area of public and private land at the request of the Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGS). The RSGA owns or leases the private land blocks in the Checkerboard and views wild horses as competition for taxpayer subsidized livestock grazing on the public lands in the area.

On September 19, 2016 the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on the plaintiffs’ appeal of a lawsuit challenging the 2014 BLM Checkerboard roundup in which 1,260 wild horses were rounded up by helicopters and removed from the range. At issue in both cases is the legality of the BLM’s reliance on a request from private landowners to remove wild horses from private lands as an excuse to eradicate them from the public lands in the area as well. 

“The BLM is turning over control of more than one million acres of public land to private grazing interests that want wild horses eradicated from the range. This sets a terrible precedent that jeopardizes the safety and future of wild horses across the West,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of AWHPC. 

“The BLM’s concession to wipe out wild horses in Wyoming is not only illegal, but a blatant slap in the face to the majority of Americans who want to enjoy wild horses on our public lands,” said Neda DeMayo, CEO of Return to Freedom. “We’re committed to upholding the law and protecting our wild horses and public lands from special interests who monopolize the resources there.”

“It doesn’t speak well of BLM, when the agency jumps the gun while the jury is, literally, still out on this issue,” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. “Until the Checkerboard lands are consolidated into large blocks of private and public lands, this controversy will continue.”

“The BLM once again shows blatant disregard for both legal statutes and the wild horses in its care. We should not have to fight to protect our wild horses from the BLM,” said Carol Walker, who has extensively observed and photographed the wild horses in the Wyoming Checkerboard.

The latest lawsuit challenges the BLM’s decision to round up an estimated 550 wild horses from the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas beginning on October 18. The plaintiffs will seek an injunction to prevent the BLM from beginning the roundup until the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the initial lawsuit.