Dept. of Interior’s Office of Inspector General issues report on ethics violations by BLM Special Agent Dan Love

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BLM Special Agent Dan Love (photo: BLM Nevada)

In May, 2016, the Bureau of Land Management promoted Special Agent Dan Love, the BLM agent who oversaw security during the Cliven Bundy standoff in April 2014, to a new position overseeing the security of BLM facilities nationwide.

And now, the Dept. of the Interior Office of Inspector General has issued a report about Love’s ethics violations at Burning Man and more.  The report states:

“We also confirmed that the Supervisory Agent intervened in the hiring process by increasing the number of candidates that would be interviewed.  As a result, the Supervisory Agent’s friend, who had worked with the Supervisory Agent as a Federal air marshal received an interview and was ultimately hired as a BLM special agent.
 
During our investigation, the Supervisory Agent displayed a lack of candor when interviewed and tried to influence an employee’s comments prior to an interview.”

SOURCE:  Reno Gazette- Journal

Report: BLM agent broke federal ethics rules at Burning Man

by Jenny Kane

A Bureau of Land Management supervisory agent from Utah violated federal ethics rules after he used his position to get his family and girlfriend into Burning Man and influenced the hiring process for a friend, according to a report released Monday.

The Department of Interior’s Office of the Inspector General for a year and a half investigated three complaints about the agent.  The agent is not named in the report but is described as “the person behind many of the BLM requests” at Burning Man that were canceled in 2015, the report said.

Those requests — which included a more than $1 million VIP compound complete with flushing toilets and 24-hour access to ice cream for BLM officials at the annual event in the Black Rock Desert — were pushed by Utah’s former Special Agent in Charge, Dan Love, who oversaw law enforcement at Burning Man for several years.

The VIP compound was an unprecedented request of Burning Man, the organization that hosts 68,000-person artistic campout over Labor Day weekend in Northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.  When details of the compound leaked to the Reno Gazette-Journal, members of Congress and the public expressed outrage.  After the event, Love was reassigned.

Love, who is best known for his chief law enforcement role during the 2014 Bundy standoff, did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday or Wednesday.  He is expected to be a key witness in the Bundy trials, according to an article published last year by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  The first phase of the trials are set to begin Monday.

Inspector General’s Office officials said that the agent’s name was withheld in the report because he is not a top official within the agency, and because it is considered a personnel matter that BLM officials will handle.

According to the Inspector General’s report, the unnamed agent used his official position to buy three sold-out tickets to Burning Man; had five on-duty BLM officers escorting his father, family-friend and girlfriend during the event; and also changed the hiring process so an unqualified applicant, a personal friend of his, would be hired.

“Federal ethics regulations prohibit soliciting gifts from a prohibited source.  Ethics regulations also prohibit federal employees from using any authority associated with their public position for the private gain of friends and relatives,” the report said.

The agent’s visitors also received unauthorized access to the Burning Man headquarters for BLM officials and they received overnight lodging in BLM-leased facilities.

When word spread that the agent had complaints filed against him, he used intimidation to discourage his co-workers from speaking with investigators.

“You know, if you don’t side with me, grenades are going to go off and you’ll get hit,” the agent told an employee who later spoke with investigators, according to the report.

Read the rest of this article (HERE).

300 Former Wild Horses in South Dakota Need Homes as Deadline Looms

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.

Feel Good Sunday: Superbowl Terms for Horse People

by Melanie Eberhardt as published on Warhorses: Women of Age Riding Horses

“Get Ready to Impress at your Superbowl Party…”

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Sunday evening is thee highlight of America’s football season – the Super Bowl. The top two teams play one final game to determine who is the best team of the season. We Americans go a little nuts wearing team’s colors, draping team flags off our front porches and if you like beer and hot wings, there’s probably a Super Bowl party a stone’s throw away.

This year the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons are in the game. Being an Atlanta resident, I’m mildly interested in the game if only to cheer the home team. But I can’t really get behind the Super Bowl hoopla. It isn’t that I dislike football, I’ll occasionally watch a game. Its just that I might be a little more enthusiastic if the Indianapolis Colts or Denver Broncos were playing. But alas, nothing horsey about this year’s game. Well, there are 60 seconds where my nose will be glued to the screen – the inevitable commercial featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales! But I’m not sure I want to devote 4 hours on the couch just to catch a few short-lived precious horsey seconds. Hello YouTube.

Last year 115.5 million people watched the Super Bowl. For many, it’s the only game they’ll watch all year and that’s perfectly acceptable. If you’re one of those non-fans planning to watch Sunday’s game, WARHorses can help you enjoy the game AND impress your football friends. We’ve translated football lingo into horsey terms we know you’ll understand.

Happy Super Bowling to All! I’ll be in the barn scooping poop and day dreaming about driving those Clydesdales across the football field.

Melanie Eberhardt is the founder of WARHorses – Women of Age Riding Horses. As lifetime horse lover, Melanie found little content online that spoke to the considerations of “older riders”. She launched WARHorses to fill this void with pertinent, original content with the added objective of developing a global community supported by meaningful information, inspiration and a lot of laughs.

http://womenofageridinghorses.com/2017/02/get-ready-to-impress-your-football-friends/

UW, BLM to Begin Controversial and Inhumane Wild Horse Movement Study

Source: UWYO.edu

“From the destruction of wild horse’s genitals to the installation of dangerous collars the rogue federal agency, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), continues to enlist the aide of America’s institutions of higher learning to be partners in their crimes.” ~ R.T.

It works on cows

“It works on cows, duuuuuhhhh!”

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the University of Wyoming are beginning a study to learn more about wild horse seasonal use and movements in the Adobe Town herd management area (HMA).

The study will begin with a bait-trap gather and radio collaring of up to 30 wild mares during February. No wild horses will be removed during this nonhelicopter gather.

UW scientists Derek Scasta and Jeff Beck, both in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, are heading the research. Jake Hennig, a Ph.D. student in the department, also will participate. They will use the information gleaned from the radio collars to learn more about how wild horses interact with their environment. Specifically, the researchers will study migration patterns and herd movements in the HMA. The BLM says it will use the study results to ensure wild horse herds continue to thrive on healthy rangelands.

The Wyoming Department of Agriculture has provided $120,000 to start the research. The BLM also has contributed funding.

Bait-trapping involves setting up temporary corrals within the HMA to attract wild horses safely into the corral. When a certain number of horses has entered the pen, the gate to the corral is closed. Once the horses are gathered, trained personnel will load and transport selected mares to the Rock Springs Wild Horse Holding Facility. After the horses arrive at the facility, staff from the U.S. Geological Survey will place collars with GPS tracking devices on the horses. The horses will then be returned to the HMA.

The 20-30 mares that BLM will select to wear GPS collars will be 5 years old or older. All other wild horses gathered will be immediately released shortly after the selected mares are sorted and held for collaring. All mares will be released at or near the same location where they were gathered. The selected contractors are in the process of identifying trap site locations and will begin the bait-trapping process soon.

Corrals could be set up in stages over a period of days to allow the horses to grow accustomed to the enclosures. About three to five trap sites are required to distribute radio-collared mares throughout the entire HMA. Bait-trapping is an effective method for capturing small numbers of selected horses.

The number of people in the trap area will be limited to key personnel to ensure a successful and safe gather for the horses.

Public viewing opportunities will be limited. Public viewing is always allowed at the wild horse holding facility overlook in Rock Springs, where the mares will be taken to be collared. Public viewing also will be allowed at the release sites of the collared mares. The BLM will keep a list of people who would like to attend the releasing of the collared mares and notify them at least one day before the releases. Media and interested public can view and photograph the mares being released with the GPS collars. To add your name to the list for public viewing, contact BLM Public Affairs Officer Tony Brown at (307) 352-0215.

The BLM’s Rawlins Field Office released the decision record and finding of no significant impact for the Adobe Town HMA Wild Horse Movements and Habitat Selection Research Gather Environmental Assessment Nov. 9, 2016. The decision was to allow enough wild horses to be gathered by bait trapping, so up to 30 selected mares could be outfitted with GPS collars. The BLM will use two separate contractors to conduct the bait-trapping operations.

Click (HERE) to view BLM Press Release

Utah Rep. Withdraws Public Land Sale Bill After Massive Public Outcry

as published on The Idaho Statesman

“A Clear Victory for Native Wild Horses and Burros…”

keepitpublicUtah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz said he will withdraw a bill ordering the Interior Secretary to sell or dispose of more than 3.3 million acres of public land.

Chaffetz had just reintroduced the bill when his office and Instagram account were flooded with protests from angry hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

“I am withdrawing HR 621,” Chaffetz tweeted late Wednesday. “I’m a proud gun owner, hunter and love our public lands.”

H.R. 621 was based on a 20-year-old report that Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt ordered to see what among the possibly disposable Bureau of Land Management land was available for sale or trade to complete the Everglades Restoration effort.

The 1997 report clearly showed that many of the parcels spread out across Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming had impediments to sale, including high disposal costs, critical natural or cultural resources, wildlife habitat, mineral claims, leases and hazardous conditions.

When he rolled out the bill earlier this week, Chaffetz said the land serves “no purpose for taxpayers.” His bill also would open the door to sales of other lands.

But he changed his tune Wednesday…

196 wild horses died at BLM’s Scott City feedlot (a BLM Auschwitz for wild horses)

IMG_20140823_132107_665Wild horses next to bison at the Beef Belt Feedyard in Scott City, Kansas in 2014

NOTE:  Our original post erroneously stated the Robert Hughes was the contractor for Teterville.  Mr. Hughes is not the contractor for Teterville in Kansas. 

By Debbie Coffey, V.P. and Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Copyright 2017   All Rights Reserved.

In the middle of June, 2014, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) moved 1,493 wild horses from the Teterville Long Term Holding pastures in Kansas to the Beef Belt Feedyard in Scott City, Kansas.  Over 13% of these wild horses died at this feedlot.

191 of the wild horses died in less than a year (7/7/14 – 6/30/15).

In a BLM “news” release dated 8/15/14 (over two years ago), the BLM announced that 57 wild horses had died at the BLM’s Scott City, Kansas “corral.”  In this news release, the BLM stated that it had “launched an investigation” into the cause of deaths, and promised that “Once the investigation is concluded, the team will complete a report that will be made publicly available.”

To date, over two years later, the BLM has not made any report available to the public about the Scott City feedlot deaths.

Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and found out that 196 horses died at the Scott City feedlot from 6/17/14 – 8/2/16.  

87 of the 196 wild horses were euthanized.

41 wild horses died of colic.  Many of these deaths were from sand colic.  As late as 4/13/15 (10 months after the wild horses were shipped to this feedlot), local veterinarian Corbin Stevens wrote to BLM’s Joe Stratton “Be sure hay and bunk is free of sand and rocks (try to only throw hay from feed alley into the bunk eliminating road material)” and “A necropsy was performed on one dead horse from pen 2 today and was diagnosed as a colic with small pebbles and sand present in the large colon and cecum.”  However, BLM’s FOIA did not provide WHFF with a necropsy report dated 4/13/15.

14 wild horses died of fractures of the spinal cord (neck and back).  6 horses died of leg or pelvis fractures.  On just one day, 4/3/15, 3 horses died of a brain/head injury and 2 of a broken leg/pelvis.  With the comment “Inspected by Dr. Stevens.  Result of windstorm – ran into fence.”

Timeline:

March 24, 2014 – Long Term Pasture contractor for Teterville in KS gives short notice to the BLM by informing them he decided to renew his existing 5 year contract, but only for a reduced number of horses.  He informed the BLM that he wanted to remove 1,900 wild horses (about 1,400 mares and 500 geldings) by June 1, 2014.

(The BLM seems to have never thought of or planned for an emergency, so they begin to scramble for a place to put 1,900 wild horses on short notice.  The BLM was able to find space on other Long Term Pastures for the geldings, but not for the wild mares.)

May 28 (or 27) 2014 – Pat Williams, the WH& B State Lead for New Mexico inspected the Scott City, KS, feedlot for NEPA analysis.  Although a working facility with a squeeze (“tilt”) chute was required,  the contractor for Scott City, Phil Jennings, didn’t want to install that infrastructure until the contract was signed.  Phil Jennings, who was going to lease the Beef Belt feedlot for this emergency contract worth over $2 million, is the contractor for the BLM’s Pauls Valley facility in Oklahoma.

June 4, 2014 – BLM signed the contract.  BLM’s Zach Reichold was designated as the COR (Contracting Officer’s Representative).

June 14, 2014 – BLM began moving wild horses from Teterville Off Range Pasture (long term holding) to Scott City, KS.   The BLM crew at Teterville LTH was Scott Fluer, Bea Wade, Richard Williams, Jimmy Galloway and Pat Williams.  3 horses were euthanized before leaving Teterville.  The BLM crew at Scott City was Jerome Fox.

June 22, 2014 – BLM concluded the transfer of mares to Scott City.

July 7, 2014 – Local veterinarian, Dr. Corbin Stevens, states 3 times in a report that less than 2% of horses have a body condition score of 3 or lower.

July 17, 2014 – Dean Bolstad discovered there was no squeeze chute or BLM Project Inspector onsite and discussed the need for this with Zach Reichold (the COR).

July 25, 2014 – Dean Bolstad informed Greg Shoop that there was no squeeze chute or BLM project inspector onsite at Scott City.

July 2014 – 35 wild horses died during this month.

August 5, 2014 – after veterinarian Dr. Stevens met with BLM’s Joe Stratton, Stevens states in a report that 5% of horses were in poor body condition when they arrived at the feedyard. (this differs substantially from the 2% that Stevens claimed several times in his July 7 report)

August 8, 2014 – BLM issues it’s news release.

Aug. 11, 2014 – BLM began “transitioning” Joe Stratton as the COR of Scott City.

Aug. 12, 2014 – BLM’s Pat Williams and Al Kane (USDA APHIS veterinarian) arrive at Scott City to perform an inspection.

Aug. 13, 2014 – Joe Stratton was “to go onsite.”   The squeeze chute was to finally arrive and plans were made for working facilities to start to be made and installed.  (almost 2 months after the horses arrived)

Aug. 28, 2014 – In a KMUW news article, BLM’s Paul McGuire stated “The first full-month report we had from the facilitator operator came at the end of July.  And it was at that time that we saw numbers on the order of about 47 horses had either died or had to be put down during that time.”  (However, the records WHFF received indicate that 35 wild horses died at Scott City during July, 2014, and only 3 horses died the month before.  That totals 38 at the end of July, not 47.  WHFF found several instances of mortality numbers not matching on BLM records in connection with Scott City.)

August 2014 – Another 46 wild horses die by the end of this month.  (total 81)

September 2014 – another 25 horses die by the end of this month.  (total 106)

June 19, 2015 – Dr. Stevens informs Joe Stratton that there is a mare with a vaginal growth that appears to be infected and that Naxcel and surgery may be warranted.  No freezemark number or description was given.

Feb. 2, 16 – Dr. Stevens informs Joe Stratton that a mare with a tumor extruding from vulva needed to be euthanized.  (It is not apparent from any records if this palomino mare was the same mare with the vaginal growth from 6/19/15, that may not have received needed surgery, but since this was the only mention of a vaginal growth, it could be likely.)

May 17, 2016 and May 19, 2016 – About 2 years after horses were shipped to Scott City, even though the Teterville contractor had given the short notice that lead to this crisis, the BLM ships 5 truckloads of horses BACK TO TETERVILLE.  The BLM started shipping horses out of Scott City after April 25, 2016 (1,311 were there end of month).  By end of May, 2016, 576 were there.  Shipping records from June 2016 show that more horses from Scott City were shipped to other long term holding pastures.  Per BLM’s Dec. 2016 Off Range Facility Reports, Scott City is no longer listed as warehousing any wild horses.

Oct. 14, 2016 – AP reporter Dave Philipps writes an article (that reads like a propoganda piece for the BLM), titled “Success Spoils a U.S. Program to Round Up Wild Horses.”  This article, filled with misinformation, contained a video of wild horses at Teterville, a quote from BLM’s National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board member, Ben Masters (who voted to kill all the wild horses in holding), and a quote from Dean Bolstad, the Wild Horse & Burro Division Chief, stating that “We’re in a real pickle…”  (No, Dean, the BLM isn’t “in a real pickle,” the wild horses and burros are “in a real pickle.”)  There was no mention in Philipps’ article about what happened to the wild horses from Teterville at Scott City.

There were necropsy reports for 24 horses sent in response to our FOIA request for all necropsy reports.  One of the necropsy reports did not have a date or time on it, and a couple of them didn’t identify the freezemark numbers of the horses.

Excerpts from necropsy reports of wild horses at Scott City:

8/6/14, 5 p.m. – #4805 – atrophy of fat around heart.  Natural causes/old age.  Collected blood prior to euthanasia.

8/6/14, 5 p.m. – #2687 – old age.  Liver failure.

8/6/14, 5 p.m. – #6404 – natural causes/old age.

8/12/14, 5 p.m. – #020937 – small intestine hemorrhage.  Cecum torsion.  Colon enlarged and full of feed.  Died of colic.

8/12/14, 5 p.m. – #945088 – natural causes.  Old age.

8/16/14, 5 p.m. – #6940.  Natural causes.  Collected blood prior to euthanasia.

8/27/14, 6 p.m. – #8737 – cecum enlarged, displaced.  Colic.

9/6/14, 12 p.m. – #05180369 – inflammation around pericardial sac.  Died of heart disease/failure.

9/6/14, 12 p.m. – very large, infected coronary arteries.  Heart failure.

9/12/14, 6 a.m. – #3675 – small intestine inflamed.  Cecum inflamed.  Feed material in abdomen.  Colic.  Ruptured gut.

9/18/14, 5 a.m. – #0041 – colic.

10/20/14, 4:30 p.m. – #7435 – cecum enlarged & hemorrhage (sand).  Colic.  Twisted gut.

10/21/14, 4:30 p.m. – #1062 – cecum enlarged/hemorrhagic/full of sand.  Sand colic.

10/21/14, 4:30 p.m. – #9240 – cecum enlarged/hemorrhagic/full offals.  Colic.  Impaction.

11/12/14, 5 a.m. – #6761 – bloated.  Cecum ½ full of sand.  Died of sand colic.

12/15/14, 6 p.m. – #97175205 – bloated, cecum & colon full of feed.  Colic.  Impaction.

1/13/15, 6 p.m. – “mustang mare” (no ID) – bloated.  Colic.

3/11/15, 6 p.m. – #19964528 – ulcers.  Bleeding ulcer.

4/17/15, 9:30 a.m. – “grey mare” – bloated.  Cecum hemorrhage & inflammation, colon hemorrhage & inflammation – sand.  Died of colic.  Sand in large intestine.

5/11/15, 12:30 p.m. – #2074 – bcs<3.  Unable to maintain weight due to age.

5/18/15, 6 p.m. – #8724 – ulcerations & hemorrhage, bleeding ulcer

5/20/15, 5:20 a.m. – #8513 –  Bloated and cecum full of sand.  Died of sand colic.

5/20/??, 6 p.m. – #6532 – bcs<3.  Unable to maintain condition.

No date or time listed for this necropsy – #3756 – heart enlarged and infarcts.  Heart failure.

By not issuing a report regarding Scott City to the public as promised, or in a timely manner, the BLM seems to just want to sweep what happened at the Scott City feedlot under the rug.  Wild Horse Freedom Federation will not ever forget even one wild horse or wild burro that has suffered at the hands of the BLM’s mismanagement.

WILD HORSE FREEDOM FEDERATION HAS POSTED FOIA DOCUMENTATION ON SCOTT CITY ON OUR WHFF WEBSITE DOCUMENTS PAGE – CLICK HERE.

SOURCES:

BLM news release (8/15/14) :  https://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2014/august/NR_08_15_2014.html

KMUV news article:  http://kmuw.org/post/80-mustangs-die-after-move-scott-city

No Budweiser Clydesdales in the 2017 Super Bowl Commercials

By Leslie Potter as published on The Horse Channel

The iconic horses have been relegated to a cameo, but viewers are likely to see horses in other ad spots…”

A few years ago, Budweiser’s parent company, AB InBev, suggested that they would move away from the Clydesdale-centered ads that had been a popular part of the Super Bowl for many years. Their explanation was reasonable: While the ads were beloved by many, there was no evidence that they helped sell beer. Fan outcry helped keep the Clydesdales around for a while, but in 2016, the company took a sharp turn away from the storytelling format their ads had previously taken, and the Clydesdales (and their canine companions) went with it. The iconic draft hitch had only a few seconds of screen time in that year’s ad.

Based on the commercials that have been released so far, the trend of phasing the Clydesdales out of advertising continues with Budweiser’s 2017 Super Bowl ad. However, the company is moving back to its storytelling format by showing its own history. Titled, “Born the Hard Way,” the spot follows the journey of company co-founder Adolphus Busch through his struggles as a German immigrant coming to the United States in 1857 to chase his own American dream. You’ll catch the briefest glimpse of a couple of Clydesdales in the background of the shot when Busch arrives in St. Louis.

This doesn’t mean that there won’t be any equine distractions during the many breaks in the action between the Patriots and the Falcons. Snickers is trying out a new gimmick with its ad spot, airing a commercial live. The ad will star Adam Driver (Kylo Ren from Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and, apparently, a horse.

Many advertisers release their Super Bowl ads online ahead of game day, but not all, so there are some yet-to-be-seen spots that will debut during the game on Sunday, February 5.

In the meantime, click here to watch classic Budweiser Clydesdale Super Bowl ads.

Wild Horses Deserve a Better Film than ‘Unbranded’

by Libby Blanchard as published on High Country News

“I found the documentary disturbing. Scenes of negligence towards the mustangs abound…”

Unbranded CrueltyA few nights ago, I downloaded the acclaimed 2015 film Unbranded. This crowd-funded film, made by Fin and Fur Productions from Bozeman, Montana, depicts the journey of four young men who ride mustangs from the Mexican border up to Canada, traveling through some of the most beautiful public lands in the American West.

Unbranded is marketed as a celebration of the American mustang, both wild and under saddle. It was featured at the Banff Mountain Film and Telluride Mountainfilm festivals, and continues to be promoted widely. Last year, it was a top download on iTunes and gained over 150,000 likes on Facebook. Outside Magazine and the Los Angeles Times gave it glowing reviews.

But I found the documentary disturbing. Scenes of negligence towards the mustangs abound. A dog drives a horse to jump a barbed wire fence. The horse’s hind leg gets ensnarled in the wire, and the animal struggles to pull free while the boys watch.

Another scene shows a horse limping from a torn muscle in its hindquarters, the after-effect of setting him loose to graze with his halter on. Any real horseman knows that a horse can easily catch its hoof in the webbing of a halter negligently left on, resulting in severe and potentially permanent injuries.

But the most egregious scene is when the boys force their horses up dangerous terrain. Someone notes that the route is a bad idea, but no one has the maturity or leadership to turn back. After struggling up the steep mountain face, one horse — unable to gain purchase in the loose, unstable footing — kneels down in exhaustion. When the boys provoke it back onto its feet, the mustang struggles for a foothold. Unable to find purchase, it tumbles off the mountainside, rolling through the air down a significant drop before crashing onto flatter ground.

At this point, I turned off the film, disgusted. When I finished it later, I discovered — unsurprisingly, given the negligence and ignorance throughout — that one of the horses dies. This fatal injury, likely a cervical spine fracture, is never explained. Instead, the death is romanticized by these self-identified cowboys, who say it is “satisfying to know that he died in the wild where he belonged, not in a holding pen.” Yet there’s little moral high ground for the cowboys to stand on: A horse was fatally injured under their care, a circumstance that is neither common nor acceptable on a horse-packing trip.

The film’s storyline is also troubling. A veterinarian and various Bureau of Land Management officials talk about how hard it is to protect public lands from overgrazing while still conserving the mustang as an American icon. The solution: moving “surplus” mustangs from the range to federally run holding pens to prevent further degradation of the land and starvation of the horses. Yet the filmmakers make only a slight attempt to explore the contentious political context of too many mustangs roaming the public land. The title, Unbranded, by the way, makes little sense as the BLM freeze-brands every horse that it rounds up for adoption or life in a holding pen.

The only comprehensive thread woven through the documentary is the account of four fame-seeking boys who disregard the welfare of their horses to inflate their own egos. Instead of being exalted, the American mustang is treated as a cheap, easily replaceable commodity available for irresponsible use.

While some reviewers have criticized the choices of the protagonists, virtually all conclude that the film is redeemable because of its cinematography. Unbranded does depict sweeping vistas, but this doesn’t excuse the behavior of the people we’re watching. As Aristotle observed, when storytelling goes bad, spectacle is substituted for substance. Richly painted sunsets and the drama of needlessly frightened, panicking horses become ends in themselves.

As wrong as it was for these young men to treat their mustangs neglectfully, it is also unfortunate for the public to accept this behavior. To celebrate this documentary at film festivals, to mount no outcry about it in over a year, is to condone behavior that is neither common nor acceptable. Those of us who love the West and its mustangs should stay away from this documentary.

Welfare Ranching Grazing Fee Drops in 2017, Further Undervaluing Public Lands

Source: The Wildlife News

“This has got to be the cheapest all-you-can-eat buffet deal in the country,”

Welfare Cows eat more of your wallet and Wild Horse & Burro Habitat

Welfare Cows eat more of your wallet and Wild Horse & Burro Habitat

LARAMIE, Wyo. – The public lands management agencies announced the grazing fee for federal allotments today, which the federal government has decreased to a mere $1.87 per cow and her calf (or 5 sheep) per month, known as an Animal Unit Month, or AUM.

“This has got to be the cheapest all-you-can-eat buffet deal in the country,” said Erik Molvar, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project. “Our public lands are a national treasure that should be protected for future generations with responsible stewardship. It makes no sense to rent them to ranchers for below-market prices to prop up a dying industry that degrades soil productivity, water, wildlife habitat, and the health of the land.”

Two hundred and twenty million acres of public lands in the West are used for private livestock industry profits through the management of approximately 22,000 grazing permits. The low fee leaves the federal program at an overwhelming deficit. This year’s fee is a a decrease of 11 percent from last year’s fee of $2.11 per AUM far less than the average cost for private lands grazing leases.  The fee is calculated using a decades-old formula that takes into account the price of fuel and the price of beef, and this year’s fee falls far below the level of $2.31 per AUM that was charged in 1980. Additionally, the fee doesn’t cover the cost to taxpayers of range infrastructure, erosion control, vegetation manipulation, and government predator killing – all indirect subsidies that expand the program’s total deficit.

“The subsidy to public lands livestock grazers just got bigger,” Molvar said. “It’s a totally unjustified handout that persists for purely political reasons, with little or no benefit to Americans.”

South Dakota Reaches Settlement Transferring Control of 520 ISPMB at-risk Horses to Fleet of Angels; Public’s Help Needed in Massive Rescue Operation

Source: Fleet of Angels

“The settlement sets the stage for one of the largest known equine rescue and adoption efforts in U.S. history…”

SD Horses South Dakota state’s attorneys have reached a settlement agreement with the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros that will transfer full control of 520 horses to Fleet of Angels, an equine welfare-related not for profit organization. After 810 horses were originally impounded on Oct. 11, 2016 by the court in Ziebach and Dewey Counties, a Fleet of Angels emergency event team- in a heroic effort headed by Palomino Armstrong facilitated the adoptions of over 270 horses that were transported from the ISPMB location in SD to new homes by Christmas, in spite of multiple challenging circumstances including blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, and logistical limitations.

The settlement sets the stage for one of the largest known equine rescue and adoption efforts in U.S. history by allowing the wild horses to be placed in safe homes rather than sold at auction, where they could have fallen into the hands of kill buyers who would transport them to Canada or Mexico for slaughter.

State’s attorneys in Ziebach and Dewey Counties on Jan. 5 filed a motion requesting that the management and placement of the horses be turned over to a suitable caretaker. Fleet of Angels, an organization that provides emergency assistance and transportation to at-risk equines in the United States and Canada, was asked by SD state’s attorneys to assume that role. Fleet of Angels has received a large number of applications for the 520 horses included in the settlement agreement.  The horses will be placed in approved homes, sanctuaries and rescues as soon as transportation can be arranged.  The organization’s goal is to have every horse in its new home within 60 days, after most of them are moved to a facility in Colorado that will offer a better climate, safer and better loading options, and more suitable conditions for the effort.

Fleet of Angels’ executive director Elaine Nash, who is spearheading the effort said, “After almost four months of working nearly around the clock to get these horses out of an extremely cold and inhospitable environment, it’s nice to now have the freedom to relocate them to a much more suitable adoption hub. We are preparing to relocate the horses to a facility where each horse can be properly vetted and readied for their adopters. or one of the participating Fleet of Angels transporters to pick them up and take them to safe, new homes.  When we say ‘Teamwork works’, we mean it!  Without the efforts of the many concerned people who are helping with this mission in a variety of ways, a massive emergency rescue like this could never be possible.”

Return to Freedom, an organization known nationally for its work with wild horses, has also played a vital role in providing solutions that averted an auction scheduled for Dec. 20, when where many of the horses likely would have been lost to the slaughter pipeline.

“RTF will continue to partner with Fleet of Angels and other Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance members and partners to do what we can to facilitate the responsible placement of stallions, bonded horses and whole herds when possible,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom.

The Humane Society of the United States, the Griffin-Soffel Equine Rescue Foundation, and another national equine welfare organization generously contributed toward a fund to cover what the counties expended in feeding and caring of the horses since October, when state and local authorities impounded the 810 ISPMB wild horses following a finding of neglect. Their contributions made it possible to prevent the horses from going to auction.

The health of the wild horses varies. While some are in good condition, many are underweight.  Some also suffer from blindness or vision impairment.

Fleet of Angels and its partners, Return to Freedom and the Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance members need the public’s support to pay for veterinary and farrier care, feed and transportation. Feed costs alone are $40,000 per month. That and other expenses will continue to mount — making donations absolutely critical to successfully getting these horses adopted to new homes.

The Fleet of Angels team has nicknamed the 520 horses that will be heading to new homes, ‘The Hallelujah Horses’.

For more background information, please click here [link to previous press release]

How the public can help

Feed and Care Fund: The public can support the wild horses while adoptions continue by donating to a fund created to for feed, veterinary care, and all other costs related the lifesaving mission for the ISPMP horses by donating to the Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance.

Adopt:  Over 200 people have applied to adopt two or more of these special horses. However, Fleet of Angels and partners are hoping to get more of the horses adopted in family bands, larger groups and herds.  Anyone who is interested in adopting some of these horses in larger bonded groups please contact: Fleet of Angels at HoldYourHorses@aol.com or on the ISPMB Horses / Emergency Adoption Mission page on Facebook.

Transport:  (Update: 1-28-2017) To reduce travel distances for some of the horses and to reduce costs for adopters, all previously approved adopters who live in northern states, and transporters who cover that part of the country are encouraged to connect ASAP to make arrangements to have horses picked up from their current SD location before all the herds are moved to the new adoption hub in Colorado.  All other adopters are welcome to start working toward having their horses transported from western Colorado soon.  The exact location of the new adoption hub will be provided within a few days.

All approved adopters seeking discount transportation through Fleet of Angels can submit a Request for Transport Quotes at http://www.FleetOfAngels.org,  so transporters in their areas can reach out to them.  Adopters are also encouraged to use FOA’s Map of Angels and Directory, as well as the org’s networking page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FleetOfAngels/  to make their transport needs known to FOA transporters.

http://www.fleetofangels.org/