Criticism grows over Ryan “Dinky” Zinke’s pick to head wildlife service

“”Putting Combs in charge of the Fish and Wildlife Service is like appointing an arsonist as the town fire marshal,”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is appointing a top critic of endangered species protections the head of the agency charged with protecting the critters, while moving to remove protections from nearly 300 animals.

Susan Combs was supposed to serve as Zinke’s undersecretary for policy, but because of holdups in the Senate, he has chosen to appoint her as the acting head of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The decision was taken last month, but news outlets began pointing out her hostility toward the Endangered Species Act on Wednesday. The Washington Post cited a statement in which she likened an animal being placed on the endangered list to a “Scud missile” — the weapon of choice of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The Interior Department said Combs will serve as the acting assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife, until a deal can be reached to confirm her as the agency’s top policy official.

But that didn’t stop conservation groups and activists from pointing out Combs’ lack of compatibility with the goals of the Endangered Species Act.

“Putting Combs in charge of the Fish and Wildlife Service is like appointing an arsonist as the town fire marshal,” said Stephanie Kurose, an endangered species specialist with the Center for Biological Diversity.

The group is suing the Trump administration for the harm posed to species by President Trump’s proposed border wall.

The group on Wednesday used the media attention gathering against Combs to underscore a proposed rule that it argues would remove protections from almost 300 species.

The proposed rule was sent to the Office of Management and Budget on Monday for preliminary review. The rule would remove the blanket application for the Endangered Species Act’s section 4(d) decisions, which are used by the Fish and Wildlife Service to designate a species as threatened. The 4(d) designation is typically one step away from listing a species as endangered under the law.

“The Trump administration just issued a death sentence to nearly 300 threatened species,” said Noah Greenwald, the conservation group’s endangered species director. “If enacted, this rule could be the end for iconic wildlife like the northern spotted owl and southern sea otter.”

Welfare Ranchers Get More Grazing Flexibility With New Program

as published on KUER.org

“More flexibility is code for relaxing or eliminating environmental safeguards and standards that are mandatory…”

Following Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke‘s repeated calls for more management of public lands, this spring the Bureau of Land Management is giving certain ranchers more say and options in grazing their cattle on public lands.

Say there’s a spring with lots of rain and the grass is long and lush into June. A rancher might want to let his cows graze on those lands longer than in a dry year. Right now, the rancher probably can’t do that. But in test projects in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado that’s changing.

“We get so tied up in rigid format and regulation, that we just couldn’t respond like we needed to,” said Ken Crane, a field manager with the BLM in Burley, Idaho. “It would frustrate everybody.”

Crane says flexibility is especially important after wildfires, when cows may need to be moved around.

But some environmental groups are skeptical.

“More flexibility is code for relaxing or eliminating environmental safeguards and standards that are mandatory,” said Erik Molvar with Western Watersheds Project.

The BLM is working with 11 ranchers across the West to pilot the program.

http://kuer.org/post/ranchers-get-more-grazing-flexibility-new-program#stream/0

The Sad Truth of Using Public Lands for Cattle Grazing

as published on The Hill

“There is no shortage of severe damage from livestock overgrazing on public lands in my home state of Wyoming…

Thanks to a legal settlement between conservation groups and the National Park Service, Point Reyes National Seashore has now stopped blindly rubber-stamping long-term dairy and beef grazing leases on public land, and the agency will write a general management plan that hopefully will guide this cattle-bitten area toward a more environmentally sustainable future. Today, about one-fourth of the National Seashore is committed to intensive, industrial-scale agriculture on public lands that by law is supposed to be managed for “public recreation, benefit, and inspiration.”

There is no shortage of severe damage from livestock overgrazing on public lands in my home state of Wyoming, but when I first visited Point Reyes a year ago, I was appalled to find that livestock operations have completely converted the native coastal prairies to closely-cropped lawns of European annual grass on the lands where they operate. In the Intermountain West, one can at least find remnant patches of native vegetation; on Point Reyes pastures, non-native grasses dominate.

On Point Reyes, the Park Service allows ranches to plow under the grasses across thousands of acres of National Seashore land to plant invasive weeds, wild mustard and white charlock, as “silage” to feed the cattle. Ground-nesting birds use these silage fields for nesting, and when they are mowed during nesting season, these birds and their chicks are often killed. Silage weeds spread from the fields where they are planted to invade the surrounding grazing lands, and even lands that have been closed to grazing.

And throughout the grazed pastures, mounds of invasive milk thistle spring up everywhere like clumps of contagion to put the sickness of the land on full display.

These pastures serve as supplemental feed for open-air feedlots that accumulate piles of manure taller than a basketball player on Park Service lands. The manure is then liquefied and sprayed all over the tops of the bluffs, where the sea breezes waft the pungent sewage scent throughout the National Seashore.

It is a well-known fact that livestock operations produce significant amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Converting deep-rooted perennial grasses native to the region to shallow-rooted annual grasses from Europe in livestock pastures also depletes the land’s ability to sequester carbon. While ranchers claim they’re trying to reduce their carbon footprint, in reality livestock removal is a far more effective option from a climate change standpoint.

Meanwhile, the rare tule elk has been reintroduced at Point Reyes, and is starting to make a comeback. But the main population is imprisoned on a 2,600-acre spit of land called Tomales Point behind an eight-foot-tall fence, designed to keep elk away from the livestock operations. While there is plenty of fog on the central California coast, rainfall can be scarce at times. Drought conditions between 2012 and 2014 caused mass die-offs of elk at Tomales Point due to lack of available water (and perhaps dietary deficiencies due to the absence of diverse soil types on this small peninsula), in which 250 elk perished.

Add this problem to E. coli contamination of streams, estuaries, and even beaches, throw in miles of fences that entangle wildlife, and top it all off with the loss of threatened and endangered plants and wildlife from the coho salmon to the Myrtle’s silverspot butterfly, and commercial livestock operations are revealed as completely incompatible with the conservation requirements of the National Seashore.

The livestock industry is now scrambling to try to characterize modern beef and dairy operations as “historic ranches” that should be protected. Though they get some credit for being organic, they are still doing a tremendous amount of environmental damage to the lands, waters, and wildlife of the area.

Between 1962 and 1978, every single one of the private ranches on the National Seashore was bought up at fair-market value by the National Park Service, with the intention to phase out commercial agriculture. Beef and dairy operations were paid a total of $57.7 million to sell their lands to make way for a National Seashore, and in 2018 dollars, that’s an average of $12.5 million apiece. The Park Service even offered a bonus to sweeten the deal: “life estates,” which allowed the former ranch owners to stay on in houses owned by the Park Service, and run their livestock operations on leased National Seashore lands for a 25-year period.

Today, almost all of the life estates have run their course, and it is time for the agricultural operations to live up to their end of the bargain. Private lands abound in the surrounding region, making it relatively simple to relocate a ranch operation. It must be hard to give up the highly privileged lifestyle of living in National Park Service housing by the sea. But it’s time to phase out ranching and phase in the native grazers — the tule elk — just as the Park Service committed to do in its 1998 Tule Elk Management Plan.

Meanwhile, the fate of the one real historic ranch on the National Seashore — the Pierce Point Ranch — offers hope for a better future. Here, livestock were removed in 1973, never to return. These lands became the Tomales Point elk preserve. On the elk preserve, the rare native coastal prairies are returning, bringing an abundance of wildlife with it.

In place of stinking, degraded pastures dominated by invasive weeds, visitors now can enjoy a natural coastal landscape. It’s a gorgeous contrast to the degraded livestock zone, and provides a glimpse of what a recovered National Seashore will look like.

Point Reyes National Seashore is within an easy day’s drive of 7 million local residents, and already receives more than 2 million visitors a year. The agriculture industry controls the lands that are the gateway for most recreational visitors. In one of America’s most densely-populated regions, public lands with high recreation value are in short supply. We can no longer afford to saddle scenic National Park Service Lands with ugly, smelly, and high-impact agricultural operations. By tearing down the fences and returning these livestock-damaged lands to nature under the new General Management Plan, Point Reyes can take its rightful place as a second Yellowstone along the California coast, and a jewel in the crown of the National Park system.

Erik Molvar is a wildlife biologist and executive director of Western Watersheds Project, a nonprofit conservation group working to protect wildlife and watersheds on western public lands. Western Watersheds Project was a plaintiff in the case that resulted in a settlement preventing long-term livestock leases on these Park Service lands and requiring a new Point Reyes General Management Plan.

The Lives of More Than 45,000 Wild Horses Are Still at Risk as Congress Waits for the Bureau of Land Management’s Plan

Source:  wildhoofbeats.com

by Carol J. Walker, Director Of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

I want to personally thank all of you who called, emailed, faxed, wrote and met with your Senators and Representatives on behalf of our wild horses and burros before the Spending Bill was passed last week.  Congress did maintain protections for wild horses and burros BUT they demanded that the Bureau of Land Management, who is tasked with managing and protecting wild horse and burros on our public lands submit a “comprehensive plan and any corresponding legislative proposals” within 30 days.

Why is this a reason for concern?  Because the very language of the directive to the BLM points at drastic measure.  “the failure to address these problems is irresponsible and will result in irreparable damage to the landscape and the welfare of the animals protected.”

This leaves the door wide open for the BLM to recommend killing (this is NOT “euthanasia”) the 45,000 wild horses and burros in holding as well as the 45,000 still on our public lands who are deemed “excess”and allowing the BLM to to remove protections from wild horses and burros that are in captivity and transfer them to federal, state, and local agencies, send them overseas and put them in “partnerships” that are not in their best interests.  All of these alternatives will expose them to possibly being shipped to slaughter.

Wild Horses and Burros need to be humanely managed on the range, while wild and free on our public lands. Destroying them to pander to the Cattleman’s Association is not the solution.  We are concerned that once the report is delivered to Congress before the end of April that the BLM could start killing and transferring wild horses and burros very quickly.

Please continue to follow our alerts and posts and requests for action during this very crucial time.

To find out more about Wild Horse Freedom Federation and our work to keep wild horses and burros wild and free on our public lands visit

www.WildHorseFreedomFederation.org

Donate Here: http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/donate/

Update from the Field: Direct Action, Yellowstone Captures More Buffalo, Far Exceeds Kill Quota, Hunting Has Ended

by Levi Rickert as published on Native News.com

“Given the number of buffalo captured for slaughter and quarantine, along with the excessive hunting that took place along Yellowstone’s boundary, more than 1,200 buffalo have been eliminated from the country’s last wild, migratory buffalo populations, which now hovers at fewer than 3,600. That doesn’t even include natural winter mortality, which can also take a heavy toll.”

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

An adult female buffalo held captive inside Yellowstone’s trap. She’s imprisoned in a small, dung-filled sorting pen until such time as trucks and trailers arrive to send her and her friends to slaughter. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.

On March 16th, two more people were arrested after attempting to halt Yellowstone from shipping wild buffalo to slaughter. The two men, Coyote and Wolf, with the direct action collective Wild Buffalo Defense, locked down to three concrete-filled barrels in front of the gate to the access road that leads to the trap. They were released from jail on Monday. Their brave act stalled operations for four hours.

Despite these courageous actions along with overwhelming public opposition to the slaughter, Yellowstone continues to kill buffalo. That morning, Yellowstone officials were so determined to send buffalo to slaughter — the very gentle giants the country has entrusted with their care — that they destroyed sensitive habitat to create a road around the blockade so that the trucks could get through.

his begs the question: whom does Yellowstone serve? Certainly not the global public, including Montanans, who are largely opposed to the slaughter of the last wild buffalo. Yellowstone presses on with urgency, capturing and killing as many buffalo as they can so they can make the cattle lobby of Montana happy. Yellowstone betrays Native buffalo cultures, the general public, their mission, the Organic Act, and, most importantly, the buffalo. Not even in Yellowstone National Park is our national mammal safe.

Perhaps in response to the embarrassment they feel from doing what they know is wrong, and to having their “government operations” interrupted again, Yellowstone treated the two men very aggressively and made shocking statements in defense of the slaughter, telling the protectors, “these buffalo are going to die and there’s nothing you can do to stop it!

Yellowstone Captures More Buffalo, Far Exceeds Kill Quota

Yellowstone has further retaliated by capturing more buffalo, bringing the total captured to nearly 800 individuals. Even though it’s just a few weeks away from calving season, they still may not be done. Many of these buffalo are from the imperiled Central herd, who even Yellowstone admits are in dire straights. The buffalo managers (read: manglers) that entered this winter with a goal of killing between 600-900 buffalo have far exceeded this quota.

Given the number of buffalo captured for slaughter and quarantine, along with the excessive hunting that took place along Yellowstone’s boundary, more than 1,200 buffalo have been eliminated from the country’s last wild, migratory buffalo populations, which now hovers at fewer than 3,600. That doesn’t even include natural winter mortality, which can also take a heavy toll.

It is unknown how many remain in the Central herd, who numbered a shocking 847 before this killing season began. Over 100 were killed by hunters in the Hebgen Basin, and aside from a few radio-collared females, none of the bison managers know how many of the buffalo killed in the Gardiner Basin were from this highly endangered population. Yellowstone is acting in foolish haste to appease Montana’s livestock industry, making excuses not backed by science, ecology, or public sentiment to wantonly destroy this sacred, keystone species, who is a national treasure and the last of their kind.

Yellowstone’s buffalo slaughter continues to be challenged from every direction, and pressure on them is increasing and will continue to do so until they quit being puppets for Montana cowboys.

Hunting Has Ended

Hunting seasons have finally ended, so some buffalo are enjoying a respite. Of the buffalo who do roam free, BFC Gardiner patrols report that fewer and fewer are in the Gardiner Basin. Spring is here, and calving season will be underway in just a few weeks. Buffalo are starting to move to their calving grounds; Northern herd buffalo are heading up towards the Blacktail Plateau, while the surviving Central herd buffalo are slowly beginning to move into the Hebgen Basin.

There is hope in the coming of the calves. Grizzly bears are also waking up. Patrols cut fresh tracks of a young grizzly the other morning, and there has been another sighting around Horse Butte, and a couple inside the park. These bears are hungry and are looking for winter-killed buffalo meat — an extremely important food source for them after emerging from their long winter’s nap. We hope they will find enough food to eat, given that Yellowstone has stolen so much of it from them.

Patrols in the Hebgen Basin are making ready to serve as buffalo crossing guards, helping to warn traffic as buffalo migrate to their calving grounds. These rove patrols have saved many lives, both human and buffalo. Our night roves are particularly important, as that’s when buffalo tend to get struck by vehicles, because they are so difficult to see at night.

Patrols are also keeping a close eye south of the Madison River, where buffalo were not granted year-round habitat, and are therefore threatened by hazing operations conducted by the Montana Department of Livestock. But, thanks to the incredible victory of gaining wild buffalo year-round habitat on Horse Butte and lands north, we are also very much looking forward to the days we can just be on the land with the buffalo, watching the new calves arrive, spending time in their peaceful presence, listening to their stories.

http://nativenewsonline.net/currents/update-field-direct-action-yellowstone-captures-buffalo-far-exceeds-kill-quota-hunting-ended/

Wild horse population wildly exaggerated

Beatys Butte 2015 wild horse roundup (photo:  BLM)

SOURCE:  heraldandnews.com

by Marybeth Devlin

Arbitrary management level (AML): The “overpopulation” of wild horses is a concocted crisis.

Per the 438,140 acres — 685 square miles — of mustang habitat, BLM manages the Beatys Butte herd down to the AML’s low end — 100 — restricting the stocking density to one wild horse per 4,381 acres — almost seven square miles!

Sparsely populated, widely dispersed: Other herds in Oregon besides Beatys Butte are similarly restricted.

 One wild horse per 4,500 acres — seven square miles — Warm Springs.

One wild horse per 5,062 acres — 8 square miles — Paisley Desert.

Most grazing slots given to cattle: Within Beatys Butte — where wild horses are, by law, supposed to receive principal benefit of resources — livestock occupy 90 percent of the grazing slots — called “animal unit months” (AUMs).

Normative annual herd-growth equals at most, 5%: Gregg, LeBlanc, and Johnston (2014) disclosed the average birth rate among wild-horse herds is 20 percent, but 50 percent of foals perish.  The population-gain from surviving foals (10 percent) minus a conservative estimate of adult-mortality (5 percent) equals a normative herd-growth rate of 5 percent.

Fictitious figures: BLM’s herd-growth figures are falsified.  Repeatedly, BLM reports one-year increases far beyond what is biologically possible.

From Oregon:

  • 170 percent — 34 times the norm — Stinking Water.
  • 179 percent — 36 times the norm — Paisley Desert.
  • 256 percent — 51 times the norm — Beatys Butte **
  • 317 percent — 63 times the norm — Jackies Butte

** BLM reported that the Beatys Butte population grew from 117 horses to 416 horses in one year, an increase of 299.  If so, to overcome foal-mortality (50 percent) and adult-mortality (at least 5 percent), that would mean each filly and mare gave birth to 10 or more foals.

Overpopulation is a false flag: Excess is found only on BLM’s falsified spreadsheets.

 

Update on wild horses of Fort Polk and Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana

We received this update on wild horses of Fort Polk and Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana from our friend Amy Hanchey of Pegasus Equine Guardian Association:

Objections Filed in Case to Project Louisiana’s Free Roaming Wild Horses

Objections to the March 9th Report and Recommendation were filed on March 23rd, 2018

Link to Objections herehttps://pegasusequine.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/03-23-18-68-1-mem-re-objections-to-rr-1.pdf

Link to Report and Recommendation herehttps://pegasusequine.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/03-09-18-67-rr-on-pi1.pdf

Recap:
On Friday, March 9, on narrow grounds a Western District U.S. Magistrate Judge chose not to recommend that the Court stop the elimination of wild and free roaming horses at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

However the Court denied the Army’s two motions attempting to block Pegasus’s evidence on the issue and accepted the evidence on the record of the preliminary injunction.

The Magistrate Judge relied on two factors to find that harm to the plaintiff is not “irreparable”: Pegasus had not proven that the Army will eliminate all of the horses before the Court could rule on the merits. And Army clarified on the record that it will not remove any horses from the surrounding Kisatchie Forest land (including the land used by the Army for training). Because of this, the Magistrate Judge would not recommend the “extraordinary remedy” of a preliminary injunction against the Army at this time.

It should be noted that the Court did not find that Pegasus failed to prove the other three elements of the Preliminary Injunction: likelihood to prevail on the merits, public interest, and balance of harms.

Additionally, the Court has not yet ruled on the merits or on which extra-record evidence will be allowed in the record on the merits.

A few items of consideration: While it is true that volumes of horses have already been removed from areas near or from elaborate catch pen and corral system on army drop zone land (that borders Kisatchie National Forest), it should be understood that like other migratory grazing wildlife, wild horses do not stay in one area on tens of thousands of acres. Rather, they migrate between foraging areas, water sources and tree cover of Kisatchie National Forest and army land. Because the wild and free roaming horses don’t know where unfenced boundaries between Kisatchie National Forest and army drop zone areas are, they could continue to be removed, as long as the migratory horses are in the area.The majority of the general public is against the systematic removal of Louisiana’s Wild and Free Roaming Horses, from these wildlife areas, tracing their existence back decades, in this historic region of precolonial Louisiana.

It is vital that the public CONTINUE to engage State and Federal Officials ( contact info below)

Take action by ALDF
http://aldf.org/blog/take-action-protect-louisianas-wild-horses/

Mike Strain
(225) 771-8942
info@mikestrain.org
commissioner@ldaf.state.la.us
File a Complaint: 225-922-1234
Buying/Selling/Transport without certificate
Livestock: 800-558-9741

Bill Cassidy
(202) 224-5824
http://www.cassidy.senate.gov
https://twitter.com/BillCassidy
https://www.facebook.com/billcassidy

John Kennedy
(318) 445-2892
(337) 436-6255
(202) 224-4623
https://www.kennedy.senate.gov/public/email-me
https://www.kennedy.senate.gov/public/

John Bel Edwards
(844) 860-1413
(866) 366-1121
govpress@la.gov
https://www.facebook.com/LouisianaGov/
https://twitter.com/LouisianaGov

Jeff Landry
(225) 326-6079
(225) 326-6200
ConstituentServices@ag.louisiana.gov 
https://www.facebook.com/LandryforLA/

Billy Nungesser, Lieutenant Governor
ltgov@crt.la.gov
(225) 342-7009
(504) 433-1200

Advocates Urge Court to Immediately Stop Army’s Illegal Seizure of Horses, Slaughter Plan 

Pegasus Equine Guardian Association files preliminary injunction motion to protect Ft. Polk horses

January 9, 2018

Contact: media@aldf.org

New Orleans — This week animal advocates filed a motion for a preliminary injunction asking a federal court to take immediate steps to stop the Army’s illegal roundup and sale of Louisiana’s wild horses pending their lawsuit’s resolution.

In 2016, Pegasus Equine Guardian Association (PEGA), led by attorneys with the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, sued the Army over plans to evict roughly 700 wild horses from a western Louisiana Army base and national forest areas that are used in trainings. The lawsuit alleges the Army violated laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act, by asserting it did not need to prepare an environmental impact statement for the removal of the horses. The Army also omitted other requirements, such as ensuring nonprofit organizations could put groups of horses up for adoption, rather than the horses being sold for slaughter.

The plaintiffs filed today’s motion in an attempt to restrict the Army from moving forward with its plan, pending the lawsuit’s resolution. The Army has recently ramped up its efforts to evict the horses, leading to speculation it will try to moot the lawsuit by completing its plan before the issues can he heard.

For decades the horses have been living on, and part of, historic Fort Polk and Kisatchie National Forest areas. Horses have ranged free on this property long before Fort Polk existed. Animal advocates fear that the Army’s current, controversial plan will result in the slaughter of the majority — if not all — the wild horses due to the difficulty in rehoming horses who have been wild for generations.

“There are several unique herds of truly wild horses in Louisiana, that are of value both environmentally and culturally, especially to the inhabitants of the area, but also to all Americans,” says Amy Hanchey of Pegasus Equine Guardian Association. “The horses should be preserved and protected. Regardless if they have been abandoned, generationally wild or otherwise wild, their welfare is at stake.”

The Animal Legal Defense Fund works with law schools across the country to expand their curriculum of animal law related classes and clinics. The organization’s expert animal law attorneys provide support and advice to programs, such as Tulane Environmental Law Clinic.

Link to Press Release Here:
http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/advocates-urge-court-immediately-stop-armys-illegal-seizure-horses-slaughter-plan/

Vern Buchanan Gets Horse Slaughter Ban and Funds to Fight Red Tide Across the Finish Line

Source:  Sunshine State News

Vern Buchanan Gets Horse Slaughter Ban and Funds to Fight Red Tide Across the Finish Line

“Red tide poses a serious threat to our environment, marine life and economy,” Buchanan said on Friday, noting the impact on the Suncoast. “We need to understand more about the toxins in red tide so we can stop the damaging effects.”

Vern Buchanan

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., scored some wins this month as his proposals fighting red tide and horse slaughter were signed into law.

Back in August, Buchanan announced that he would offer amendments to a government funding bill on those issues and protecting the Florida panther.

“Banning the slaughter of horses, curbing harmful red tide and funding the Endangered Species Act are important issues to the people in my district and the rest of Florida,” Buchanan said in August. “It’s time for Congress to end partisan gridlock and pass common-sense policies.”

Buchanan’s amendment on horse slaughtering would prevent the “reopening of horse slaughter facilities in the United States by prohibiting federal funding for health and safety inspections which is required by law at all meat processing plants.” Earlier in August, Buchanan announced his “Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act” had garnered 150 co-sponsors in the U.S. House. The proposal, which would end slaughtering horses for human consumption in the U.S. and stop exporting horses to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico, also has a companion measure in the U.S. Senate. U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Lindsey Graham, R-SC, Bob Menendez, D-NJ, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, introduced the Senate companion that same month.

With the federal ban on horse slaughter set to expire at the end of last week, Buchanan was able to bring the language of his amendment into the federal omnibus spending bill that President Donald Trump signed into law.

“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a barbaric practice that must end,” Buchanan said on Monday, giving credit to congressional colleagues from both chamber and both paries as well as animal welfare groups for ensuring his language was included in the final bill.

“This was a successful team effort,” Buchanan, who helps lead the Animal Protection Caucus, said. “I hope we can build on this success and pass my legislation to permanently end the practice.”

Read the rest of this article HERE.

We Bought the Ponies Some Time, So Whats Next?

OpEd by Susan Wagner, President of Equine Advocates

“It’s not over until it is OVER!”

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Now that the new spending bill has passed with the language we needed to temporarily protect America’s wild and domestic equines, where do we go from here?

Thanks to the friends horses have on The Hill, especially our champion, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico who led the charge to protect them, as well as the passion and persistence of so many of you who took the time to call and send faxes to your lawmakers, the status quo, at least for now, has been maintained.

a. Horse meat inspectors will remain defunded so that horse slaughterhouses cannot open and operate in this country.

b. Wild horses and burros will not lose the minimal amount of protection they still have so that the ones being held captive in BLM holding facilities will not be executed and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will not be able to authorize their sale “without limitation,” which means slaughter.

That was all good.

However, in order to move forward, we need:

1. A Federal Ban on Horse Slaughter with Strong Language for Enforcement and Stiff Penalties.

– It is doubtful that a stand-alone animal bill will ever pass this Congress. In fact, the closest this country ever came to passing a federal bill banning horse slaughter was in 2006 with the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act which passed in the House but was blocked in the Senate. The good that did result from that bill even though it did not become law, was the addition of language defunding horse meat inspectors to our federal spending bills as a way to prevent horse slaughterhouses from reopening here. That language does not prevent live equines from being shipped over our borders into Mexico and Canada for slaughter, but at least the numbers of horse going over are down to an estimated 100,000 annually. That’s still way too many, but if slaughter plants were to reopen here, those numbers would balloon to 250,000-350,000 a year because indiscriminate and over-breeding would explode, just as was the case in the 1980’s and 1990’s when horse slaughterhouses still operated here. The last one closed its doors in 2007 and at least the defund language has kept horse slaughter from returning to U.S. soil. When President Obama was still in office, several attempts were made to attach language banning horse slaughter to other federal bills, but none got to the floor for a vote. We hope that powerful lawmakers who care will try that again. Otherwise we will be right back to where we were all over again fighting to add language to defund horse meat inspectors to the next federal spending bill and have to repeat this process all over again and hope it doesn’t go the other way.

2. A Complete Change in the Current Policy for Wild Horses and Burros With a Return to the Provisions Passed in the “Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burrs Act of 1971.”

– Wild horse and burro issues are at a standstill and there is no hope for any real progress unless we have an interior Secretary who is interested in working to protect and preserve them. Clearly, Ryan Zinke is not. In fact, he is driving them to extinction, as has been the case with several of his predecessors. What we need is an end to the round-ups, an end to deliberately destroying the viability of the herds by stockpiling more and more captured animals in BLM holding facilities. The ones still in captivity need to be returned to the range. Right now, unless we have allies on our side who control money – meaning that they have the attention of lawmakers because they are powerful and part of business and industry equal to those on the other side in ranching, (the Cattlemen) and fossil fuels, hunting interests, etc., we will get nowhere. What we do have is 80% of the American People who are in favor of protecting and preserving these animals, but the different proposed plans by which to achieve that goal never seem gain any traction, especially when “welfare ranchers” believe they are entitled to use, ruin and deplete the range lands for their own greed and profit. These are not small family ranchers. No, these are the big, factory industrialized businesses that deal with millions of head of cattle and do not care if our wild horses and burros are destroyed, along with other native species.

…So where do we go from here? Think about it.
There’s a lot of work to be done.

THE TRUTH #19 – The sale of wild horses to American Mustang Germany: Discrepancies in a Decision Memorandum by Dean Bolstad, BLM’s Division Chief of the Wild Horse & Burro Program

Wild Horse Freedom Federation issues THE TRUTH to share Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents and information with the public.  Be sure to subscribe HERE to Wild Horse Freedom Federation, so that you can receive email alerts.

THE TRUTH #19 – The sale of wild horses to American Mustang Germany: Discrepancies in a Decision Memorandum by Dean Bolstad, BLM’s Division Chief of the Wild Horse & Burro Program

On Feb. 23, 2017, BLM Wild Horse & Burro Division Chief Dean Bolstad sent a Decision Memorandum for the Assistant Director, Resources and Planning, to request approval to sell 26 sale-eligible wild horses to American Mustang Germany, to be used in one of Mustang Heritage Foundation’s Mustang Makeover Events in Germany.

The first discrepancy is simple: in the Subject line, and again in the first and second paragraphs, Bolstad states that 26 wild horses were to be sold.  Steve Tryon approved the sale of 26 wild horses on the memorandum.  But the Bills of Sale to American Mustang Germany, authorized by Sally Spencer, only indicate that 21 wild horses were sold to American Mustang Germany.  What about the other 5 wild horses?  Will they be sold to American Mustang Germany in the future?

The second discrepancy is: In the first paragraph under Background, Bolstad noted (about Silke Strussione, the founder of American Mustang Germany) “In the past year, she has arranged for nine adoption and six sales of horses to Germany.  The adopted horses will remain in Georgia until they are sold to Silke Strussione and then they will be exported to Germany.” 

Bolstad stated that Strussione arranged for “six sale horses to Germany.”  However, BLM Sale logs provided to Wild Horse Freedom Federation during this time period indicate that Silke Strussione only bought 4 wild horses from the BLM the prior year.  There were no prior sales to American Mustang Germany – the 21 wild horses sold to American Mustang Germany were pending the approval of this memorandum.

If Mustang Heritage Foundation, or their TIP trainer, is acting as a third party and selling wild horses to go overseas, that is an issue that needs to be addressed.  They are receiving taxpayer dollars.

All BLM Bills of Sale, Adoption Agreements and Private Maintenance and Care Agreements should be revised to contain language stating that wild horses & burros may not ever be sold to or shipped out of the country (reason below).

The third discrepancy is that Bolstad states “All horses that arrive in Germany are required to have German papers and a chip implanted.  The owner decides if their horse can be slaughtered or not when they get their papers and chip.  Strussione will sign the horses up as ‘no slaughter horses.’  The papers and chip will designate each horse as a no slaughter animal.  The slaughter facilities are not allowed to accept horses without their paperwork and also scan the implanted chip.”

Since Bolstad stated that “The owner decides if their horse can be slaughtered or not when they get their papers and chip, what if American Mustang Germany sells the horse to someone, and then that person, in turns sells the horse to someone else?  It seems that new owners may not “sign the horses up as no slaughter horses.”  And when the horse is older, could it be sold online or at an auction and end up going to slaughter?

Bolstad was included in prior email discussions about selling wild horses & burros overseas, and top level BLM employees agreed that the BLM has no oversight once horses & burros are sold overseas.  Examples of what was stated in the 2011 emails between BLM employees are:

“The idea is if we sell horses to over seas recipients knowing we have no authority as to how they are treated or dealt with it is the same as selling without limitation and we are not allowed to do that under the omnibus…

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